Magnesium: What You Didn’t Know You Needed

Posted on September 25, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Nutrition | Tags: , , , |

Magnesium is an important mineral involved in over 300 of the 4,000 enzymatic processes in the body, which means that not having the right amount of it can lead to many different kinds of symptoms.  You may remember from high school chemistry class that enzymatic processes are the chemical inter-conversions that sustain life like digestion of food and synthesis of DNA.

The following is a video of Dr. Mark Hyman discussing the importance of magnesium especially for the majority of Americans who do not have enough magnesium to carry out the work their body needs to do to stay healthy.

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Need a Reason to Eat Kale?

Posted on September 5, 2013. Filed under: Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , |

kale

I am a huge fan of kale.  I’ve been meaning to write a post about it’s nutritional value, but this article-Crouching Garnish, Hidden SuperFood: The Secret Life of Kale-by Sayer Ji is so comprehensive that I couldn’t dream of doing better.

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Plant-based Diets: A New Way to Think About Health

Posted on July 20, 2013. Filed under: against the current, Alzheiner's, Autoimmune disease, Cancer, Diet, Neurodegenerative disease | Tags: , , , , |

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Avocado: The World’s Healthiest Food

Posted on June 18, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , |

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have just one food with you, what would you choose. I would choose an avocado. The avocado page on the Whole Foods website offers an amazingly comprehensive explanation of the seemingly endless nutritional value of the avocado, but here is why I try to eat one every day. Avocados are:

  • full of antioxidants
  • enhance the absorption of other antioxidants
  • anti-inflammatory
  • full of good fats
  • blood sugar regulators

avocadoeggbake

Add an egg to it, like I did for breakfast this morning and you get:

  • a complete range of amino acids
  • all the B vitamins
  • rich source of selenium and iodine, minerals difficult to obtain from other foods
  • omega-3 fats

Recipe

  1. cut 1 avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out a little extra if needed
  2. drop one egg in each avocado half
  3. sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
  4. bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (don’t overcook!)
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How Colorful Is Your Plate?

Posted on June 17, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Dr. Terry Wahls, Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , |

When I first made major changes to my diet I learned from Dr. Terry Wahls to eat, among other things, 3 cups of color per day.  She suggested the 3 cups be made up mostly of reds and blues like blueberries and raspberries.  She clearly was promoting the consumption of antioxidants to stop the internal “rusting” associated with oxidative damage.

I eat those 3 cups of color most days, but I have to admit that is far easier to accomplish during the bountiful summers here in the Pacific Northwest.  Below is a chart that reminds us of the importance of all the colors foods have to offer.

eattherainbow

 

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Leaky: Bone Broth for Leaky Gut and Leaky Brain

Posted on June 13, 2013. Filed under: Cancer, Diet, Dr. Terry Wahls, Eat these!, GMO, Gut health, Neurodegenerative disease, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

There are many ways to react to a diagnosis as big as ALS. Having a decent sense of self-efficacy, I chose to find ways to intervene in the disease process. Re-watching a TED Talk by Dr. Terry Wahls reminded me how important diet can be to health and healing so this is where I began.

bonebroth

I started by eating the Wahl’s Way as described in her book Minding My Mitochondria, which, at it’s simplest, involves 3 cups of greens, 3 cups of colorful fruits/veggies and 3 cups of sulphur veggies daily. Then, not satisfied that I was doing all that my body might need, I moved to the Gerson Method, which is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients, and extremely low in sodium, fats, and proteins. In essence, it involves 13 fruit/veggie juices per day, soup and baked potatoes, but it is cancer focused so I eventually decided there were limits to it’s value to my neurodegenerative-self.

Along the way I learned about leaky gut and leaky brain. As described by Dr. Andrew Weil,

Leaky gut syndrome (also called increased intestinal permeability), is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream.

While I did not think of myself as someone with a lot of stomach complaints, I was realizing that I had issues with milk, which I had been consuming my entire life. Could this constant exposure to an irritant have disrupted my stomach lining homeostasis? I had also spent many years as a junk food junky with a penchant for sweets. Did I have an imbalance of sugar loving yeasts in my gut that was contributing to leakiness? There is also a growing body of evidence pointing to the harmfulness of GMOs to our bodies and gut with this one on pig stomach lining disruption by a GMO diet being the most recent. And if I did have a leaky gut, what nutrients weren’t being absorbed or metabolized and what molecules were crossing into my wider system that should have been kept out?

Leaky brain syndrome essentially is the caboose end of the leaky gut syndrome train. Scott Forsgren writes,

Food sensitivities and Leaky Gut Syndrome lead to systemic inflammation. Once the entire body reacts and enters a state of inflammatory response, a multitude of additional symptoms may be observed…

and

…inflammation due to pro-inflammatory cytokines attracts molecules which have receptors on the blood-brain barrier. Slowly, these molecules end up in the brain compartment and cause destruction of nerve cells. This entire process starts in the gut and results in a neuroimmune disorder including autoimmunity to the brain.

I certainly have a history of inflammatory issues spanning the entirety of my life. I had stomach issues as a baby, eczema during childhood that resolved and returned in adulthood, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and more. Could I have been challenging my gut and brain barriers my whole life? Could healing those barriers stem the tide of inflammation and give my body a chance to heal? I was willing to do the work to find out.

Enter bone broth.

Bone broth is so full of minerals and nutrients as to support a number health issues including healing the gut. The nourished kitchen website writes:

Bone broths are a good source of amino acids – particularly arginine, glycine and proline. Glycine supports the bodies detoxification process and is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin, bile salts and other naturally-occurring chemicals within the body. Glycine also supports digestion and the secretion of gastric acids. Proline, especially when paired with vitamin C, supports good skin health. Bone broths are also rich in gelatin which improves collagen status, thus supporting skin health. Gelatin also support digestive health which is why it plays a critical role in the GAPS diet. And, lastly, if you’ve ever wondering why chicken soup is good for a cold, there’s science behind that, too. Chicken stock inhibits neutrophil migration; that is, it helps mitigate the side effects of colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.

So, if you have issues with inflammation, leaky gut and leaky brain, consider learning to make and drink bone broth on a regular basis.

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Diminishing Nutrition

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Diet, Eat these!, Nutrition | Tags: , , , |

According to this NYT article-Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food

We’ve reduced the nutrients and increased the sugar and starch content of hundreds of…fruits and vegetables.

While I don’t think this article captures the larger issue as strongly as the title does, it is an important topic. I do like how they point to fresh herbs as a way to compensate for the nutritional losses in our food.

greens

 

Carrots

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Salt vs. Mineral Salt: It Matters

Posted on May 28, 2013. Filed under: Autoimmune disease, Eat these! | Tags: , , , |

We’ve all heard that we ought to be mindful of how much sodium we ingest, but recent research suggests that it may be what kind of salt-not how much-that matters. Yale University and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg researchers found that the sharp increase in autoimmune diseases may be the related to the nutrient-less refined, processed and bleached salt that pervades our tabletops.

Mineral-rich Himalayan salt

Mineral-rich Himalayan salt

Mineral salts, like pinkish Himalayan rock salt or grey Celtic salt, dissolve into mineral ions.  Researcher Dr Hendel says,

These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions. They’re also needed to balance PH levels in the body.

Mineral salts sound like food to me, while the typical table salt just sounds edible.

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What Is Food?

Posted on May 27, 2013. Filed under: Diet | Tags: , , , , , |

Do you eat food?  Are you sure?

I said we would spend a lot of time talking about food on this blog and I think it makes sense to start with the basics.

What is food?

When you really contemplate that question, what do you come up with?  Last night’s chicken dinner, was that food?  Was this morning’s Cheerios food?  We really need to define food to decide if these can be considered food.  A quick Google search gives us this definition:

Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth (emphasis added).

So, did that chicken dinner help to maintain your life and growth?  If the chicken involved was pasture raised then it very likely contains some of the nutrients necessary to maintain your life.  Pasture raised birds eat their natural diet rich in seeds, green plants, insects and worms, which fills the chicken with all the nutrients it needs for a healthy life.  Compare this to a diet of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meals flush with additives of conventionally raised birds and what do you get?  National Geographic reported on a comparison of pasture raised to conventionally raised chickens.  The pasture raised birds were found to have:

  • significantly less fat and less saturated fat
  • 50% more vitamin A
  • significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids

Vitamin A contributes to vision, immune function, bone development, cellular differentiation, growth and reproduction so that extra vitamin A will likely be put to very good use.  Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in reducing inflammation, proper cell membrane function, cell signaling, gene expression and disease protection.  It sounds like a pasture raised chicken is nutritious and meets the definition of food.  A conventionally raised chicken, while less nutritious, is probably still food.  But where is the line between food and not food?

Let’s take a look at Cheerios, considered so wholesome as to be a common first finger food for babies.   The fact that it lists whole grain oats as an ingredient means that the grain they use includes all three parts of the kernel-bran, germ and endosperm- which is good because this is where the nutrition lies in whole grains.  Fiber, iron and B vitamins are the main nutrients associated with whole grain foods so it is funny that the Cheerios website goes on to list fiber, iron and B vitamins as Cheerios ingredients-things they purposely added to the product.  (When I compare the Nutrition Facts of

Cheerios Ingredients

Cheerios Ingredients

Cheerios to that of another whole grain oat product-Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Oats Flour-I see that the cereal has less fiber and protein than the flour, which is a one ingredient food).  I don’t know what kind of whole grain oats Cheerios is using, but if it has to add the very nutrients whole grains are known to have naturally I can’t help but be curious about the quality of the whole grain they are using.

As for the rest of the ingredients in Cheerios, some are items I use in my own cooking-sugar, water-and others are chemicals for thickening, stabilizing and preserving and I can’t say that I’ve ever put those items on my shopping list.  And, what about the added vitamins?  The Handbook of Cereal Science and Technology reveals that cereal manufacturers have added vitamins and minerals to cereals to compensate for the losses that occur during processing (this may explain the discrepancy between the whole grain oat cereal vs flour mentioned earlier). I have too many questions and concerns about this addition of vitamins to address here, but I’ll mention a few.  Which form of each vitamin do they use?

  • For B12, do they use premethylated methylcobalamin or synthetic and cheaper cyanocobalamin?
  • For vitamin E do they use the preferred alpha and gamma tocotrienols or the lower anti-oxidative tocopherols?
  • Are the vitamins they use synthetic or naturally derived?

While I am not opposed to supplementation, I do ascribe to the thinking that the best way to get our nutrients is from food sources as they contain all the cofactors necessary to activate the nutrients.  It seems to me that Cheerios starts with a known food-whole grain oats- and then processes out some of what make it food and then tries to put some of it back in and then some.  I’m having a hard time calling this food.

I’m sure I am not putting as fine a point on this food vs not-food point as I mean to, but that’s because it is still forming for me.  The food industry seems to think that anything that is edible is food and they’ve led us to believe they are the same thing. Only, the simple Google definition of edible helps us to see the difference:

Fit to be eaten (often used to contrast with unpalatable or poisonous examples).

Food and edible are not really synonymous.  Food is about nutrition and edible is about being tasty or not poisonous.  I think it would be a HUGE step in the right direction if we simply refused call things food based on the item’s edibility.  Velveeta cheese may be edible, but it is not food.  At best, combining Velveeta’s ingredients gets us a cheese-like product, not cheese.  If we could gain agreement on this one simple thing then maybe we could gain some traction on a number of social/political issues regarding food.  I will now be making a point to outwardly recognize the difference between food and non-food items.  Will you join me?

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