Au Naturel

cinnamon

I want to share with you a few of the foods and spices I consume on a regular basis, as I truly believe in their potential and proven health effects. I believe in natural medicine and avoid using over the counter drugs. Below are some of my favourites with information regarding how they may help the human body.

Garlic – Can be used as a natural antibiotic and antibacterial agent. It has also been suggested that it may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels; but the results are not conclusive. It may be due to the fact garlic is also an antioxidant; this property may prevent cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

When buying garlic, make sure the heads are dry and have plenty of white papers covering it. If there are green shoots growing from the garlic, it is likely old. However if you have some at home with shoots beginning to grow you can still use it – just cut them off and remove it from the middle of the bulb.

Onion – Very similar to garlic, as they are both part of the Allium vegetable family. This family of vegetables are rich in sulfur-containing compounds which give them their distinct odors. They are a packed full of polyphenols (anti-oxidants), including flavonoid polyphenols. This is important to human health as they have been reported to have antiviral, anti-allergic, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant activities.

When picking out onions, choose ones that are clean and well-shaped with no openings around the neck. Avoid ones with mold, soft spots, moisture around the neck, and dark patches. Onions should be stored in a well-ventilated space and do not need to be refrigerated.

Tumeric – Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong antioxidant. It may also help boost brain power though the increase of a type of growth hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain. Other claims include: prevention of cancers, lowers risk of heart disease, and possible benefits against depression.

The curcumin levels in turmeric are unfortunately low. It may be a better idea to supplement with a curcumin extract to experience its full effects. Taking it with a fatty meal is also a good idea, since curcumin is fat soluble. Keep using turmeric though!

Cinnamon – It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree and can be bought ground or in “quill” form. Cinnamon can help control blood sugar levels, reducing the rise of blood sugar after eating. In humans with type II diabetes, consuming as little as 1 gram of cinnamon per day was found to reduce blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol, in a study published in the December 2003 issue of Diabetes Care. It may also improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has anti-clotting actions due to the cinnaldehyde found in cinnamon which helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. It is also considered anti-microbial since it has the ability to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Cinnamon powder has a stronger flavor while the sticks can be stored for longer. Cinnamon should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a dark, cool and dry place. Ground cinnamon will keep for about six months, while cinnamon sticks will stay fresh for about one year stored this way. You can extend their shelf life by storing them in the refrigerator.

ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER BEFORE SUPPLEMENTING WITH ANYTHING NEW. SUPPLEMENTING WITH ANY OF THE ABOVE FOODS MAY HAVE ADVERSE EFFECTS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY TAKING MEDICATION(S).

Advertisements

Protein

Protein-Foods

Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids and are present in and vital to every living cell. They help make up hair, skin, nails, tendons, ligaments, and muscles; as they hold together, protect, and provide structure to the body. As enzymes, proteins function in metabolism. As antibodies, proteins are integral to a healthy immune system. Although our bodies prefer to use fats and carbohydrates for energy, proteins do provide energy in certain circumstances.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules and there are 20 different types. These can be categorized into two groups – essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids must be consumed through food as our bodies cannot create them through our own metabolism. Non-essential amino acids are those can be produced through other amino acids and substances in the diet and metabolism. These amino acids can be arranged in millions of different ways to create different proteins, each with their own specific function.

Proteins along with carbohydrates and fats are considered macronutrients. Protein and carbs have 4 calories/gram, while fat has 9 calories/gram.

How much protein one needs is dependent on several factors: age, sex, weight, muscle mass, activity level, and health should all be taken into consideration when determining protein requirements. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for each macronutrient is:

Protein: 10-35%

Carbohydrate: 45-65%

Fat: 20-35%

For example, someone who consumes 2000 cals/day should aim to get 10-35% (200-700cals) of those calories from protein sources.

More specifically, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for sedentary people is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Children, adolescents, and pregnant or lactating women require more protein because it is especially needed during times of growth and development.

Strength and endurance athletes also require more protein. Regular exercise increases the transport of oxygen to body tissues. To carry more oxygen, we need to produce more hemoglobin – the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. A range of 1.2g – 1.7g per kg of body weight is advised for athletes.

https://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12354500/Data/SR25/nutrlist/sr25a203.pdf

Check out that link for an alphabetical list of foods and their protein content.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the combination of grains and legumes, or lugumes paired with nuts and seeds will create complete proteins. So yes, vegetarians get their fill.

10 Mistakes Woman Make with Diets

10 Mistakes Woman Make with Diets

Very informative, well written, and true!

Diet programs that are adverstised on TV are crap; they do not teach you how to sustain heathy eating. Sure, you’ll loose weight at first – restricting calories to stupid low levels will do that – but most gain it all back, plus some. These programs can wreak havoc on your metabolism and cause you to loose muscle mass – and all the money in your bank account.

Don’t get fooled by “pretend health foods”. Their earthy packaging and “organic ingredients” doesn’t make them a good choice.

Do you want your body to become a fat burning machine? Than pack on some muscle and eat to build, not to loose.

Eat well balanced meals that include heatlhy fats, carbs, and protein. Restricting any macronutrient will leave the body starved of certain nurtients that it needs in order to function properly.

Not eating breakfast, barely eating at lunch, then overeating at night is a great way to stress your body and gain even more fat.

He Says, She Says

Buying a new car would be considerably easier if your choices were limited. Instead you have to choose the type of vehicle; used or new; the cost; the horsepower; 2 door or 4; to lease, finance, or buy; to upgrade the interior or keep it basic; mileage; insurance; colour; and god knows what else.

To make things easier you decide to ask around and get the opinions of others. The problem is everyone offers you different suggestions – the soccer mom opts for the minivan, the environmentalists pushes the hybrid, and the construction guy wouldn’t think of buying anything but a truck. Doesn’t help you much does it? These people have the intention of helping you but instead leave you more confused than when you started.

The same thing happens when embarking on the journey to become more fit and to eat healthy – Jessica says carbs will make you fat, Billy says you have to lift weights 5 days a week to gain muscle, and Sarah swears by intermittent fasting while doing endless bouts of cardio. Considering the hundreds of different ways to train, along with all the fad diets and opinions of others, how the hell do you know what to choose?!

Back to the car metaphor – besides wanting to help, these people have something else in common; they ended up going with what would suit their needs best and stuck with that. The same thing must be done when it comes to your health.

Seeking information from others can be helpful but often times ends up adding to the confusion. You bounce around trying techniques that may have worked for others but leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Here are some tips that have taken me years to learn and apply to my current life:

Determine your goals, ones that do not oppose each other: You can’t be a power lifter and run a marathon while expecting to be great at both. Choose your focus and stick with that. You can be good at lots of things, but great? I doubt Sid the kid can play basketball as well as he does hockey, and I can imagine he has been perfecting his hockey skills his entire life; even if he wasn’t the best at first.

Seek advice from a FEW KNOWLEDGABLE people: Most people like to talk and act like they know it all even after minor success. If you need information regarding losing weight and/or choosing the right exercises; speak with a reputable dietician and personal trainer. Considering the advice of others has its place, so long as it doesn’t leave you feeling more confused.

Too much of a good thing is still too much: It has taken me years to come to terms with this fact. Doing endless bouts of cardio or excessive weight training sessions will leave you flat and weak. More isn’t always better, and finding a healthy balance is tough. Seek advice from a trainer who can help you program your training is a good option. If you’re new to exercise, my advice is to start with 2-3 full body weight training sessions/week and 3-4 moderate intensity cardio activities for 20-30 minutes/week.

You cannot out train a bad diet:  You may have heard this saying before. Unfortunately it’s a fact and there is no way around it. Sure, you’ll see improvements in your body composition and likely even drop a couple pounds just from the addition of exercise to your life. However, it isn’t until you change your poor eating habits will you see significant changes in how you look and feel. Exercising does not give you a free pass to eat more crap.

Have a plan, stick to it, and document your progress: Walking into a weight room without a plan is pointless. You need structure, consistency, and dedication for anything to work. Changing things up too often does not allow your body and mind the time it needs to become bigger, faster, and stronger. Have a plan ready, document the weights you use, stay consistent, and strive for improvement.

Soup it Up

I am constantly looking for quick, easy, and healthy meals to whip up and have on hand throughout my week – variations of soup have been one of the results of my search.

It simple; buy some broth (chicken, vegetable, beef) and add a ton of healthy ingredients. Personally, I chop up a bunch of veggies (bell peppers, onion, broccoli, spinach) and let them simmer in the broth for 5-10 minutes. While that is happening I cook up some ground turkey or chicken breasts, along with some quinoa or red rice.

After the meat and grains are cooked I pack them up individually and put it all in the fridge. This way I can control how much of each ingredient are in my serving of soup. Of course you can always just add it together once it’s cooked, but I like the ability to control my macronutrients (less rice on low carb days, more protein on heavy training days, etc.).

Little time is needed to put this together, it tastes great, and is healthy to boot. Since it was made yourself you’ll know exactly what’s in it – soups from the can or restaurants are often way too high in sodium.

Try different broths and vegetables in your soup and do not forget a source of protein. If you are not a meat eater try incorporating lentils, split peas, or beans; along with a grain (quinoa, rice) to create complete proteins. Sprinkling some sesame seeds on top is a great addition and will provide a source of healthy fats, and tossing in some spices like cumin or cayenne can give it a kick.

Cooking of vegetable soup

Whats for Breakfast?

Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet many people skip this meal to save time in the morning as they rush out the door. I hope this post will motivate you to start eating breakfast if you don’t already, or perhaps cause you to re-evaluate what you’re eating if you do.

There are many reasons why breakfast is of great importance, here are a few:
– overnight fasting means muscle breakdown is at its greatest in the morning; you gotta eat to take care of those muscles!
– eating after you wake up will kick start your metabolism.
– eating regular meals, including breakfast can help you maintain/loose weight.
– those who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight. These people often overeat at lunch and dinner or snack on unhealthy foods during the day.
– skipping breakfast makes it harder for you meet your nutritional needs.
– Eating breakfast will clear your head and get you going in the morning; your brain needs energy just as much as your body.

That takes care of why you should eat breakfast, now what should you eat?

Coffee and a doughnut, or high sugar cereals just wont suffice. It is important that you incorporate all of the macronutrients for a filling, well rounded meal that won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry and tired an hour later.

Incorporating a healthy source of fat, carbs, and protein is the way to go! So put away your white bread and jam and reach for the eggs, oats, and nuts instead.

Making breakfast doesn’t have to take long, and just because it is healthy doesn’t mean it will taste bad. Here are some meals I love to eat for breakfast:

1. A slice of Rudolphs bavarian multigrain bread, 1 whole egg, 3 egg whites, handful of chopped spinach, onion, and bell pepper.

2. 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt with some mixed berries.

3. 2 slices of turkey bacon, 1/3 cup of oats mixed with a tablespoon of chia seeds and cinnamon.

4. Chocolate protein shake with a handful of nuts and an apple.

5. Kamut puffs with a handful of sliced almonds using a protein shake as milk – my new favourite!

Besides the foods listed above, you’ll also catch me eating last nights left-overs (chicken, fish, salads, sweet potatos…) for breakfast. Who said I can’t eat dinner for breakfast? Changing it up will keep your body guessing and prevent your taste buds from going stale.

I will have to take pictures of these awesome meals and post them for you to see. Until then, if you have any questions or suggestions for making breakfast healthy and delicious, feel free to leave a post!

Side note: Drink a tall glass of ice water upon waking, and eat breakfast within an hour of getting out of bed.

Ginger Powder Helps Type II Diabetes

Ginger Powder Helps Type II Diabetes

Holistic (or natural) nutrition has been an interest of mine for quit some time now. I am currently getting more information on a natural nutrition course which I will likely enroll in come the spring. Here is a brief article regarding a study which used ginger powder as a means to improve fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity in people with type II diabetes.

To help you better understand, or get further information on the contents of this article, here are a three more links:

What is insulin sensitivity – http://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin/insulin-sensitivity.html

HbA1c – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003640.htm

Ginger – http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72