Health and Nutrition

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of Your Day

Gregg Carroll - Thursday, March 28, 2013

Morning rush hour rush calls for so much activity that it's easy to skip breakfast. While missing breakfast is unhealthy, grabbing processed,  pre-packaged foods on the run isn't a good choice either. Here are some quick ideas for healthy breakfast. No numbers, no counting calories, just plenty of nutrients and a stable blood glucose level to help keep the brain active and alert.

 

Must Include Components in Your Breakfast

Unrefined, Whole Grain Carbohydrates — Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for our bodies. Consuming natural carbohydrates that contain simple and complex sugars help give you the quick boost your body desperately requires in the morning, while complex sugars release glucose at a slower rate to get you going ahead of mid-morning. Great options for whole grain carbohydrates include buckwheat, oats, and whole grain toast. Have it as a cereal or a porridge prepared with soy or nut milk.

Omega-3 Fats – There are so many health benefits attached to the omega-3 fats; lowering high cholesterol, protecting the heart, essential for optimal brain function and better mood levels. Including omega-3 rich foods in your breakfast is lot simpler than you think. Sprinkle your smoothie with ground flax seeds, or top your oats with walnuts and pine nuts for a super nut/seed breakfast. Nuts and seeds have plenty of minerals and neuroprotectors that aid in optimal brain function.

 

Healthy Grab and Go Options

There are some mornings that are so hectic we are sometimes forced into a grab-and-go breakfast. Don't let this situation lead to an unhealthy food choice! Healthy choices include granola bars, smoothies (which you can make the previous night and refrigerate), yogurt cups, and of course fruits!

Quick Breakfast : Greek yogurt parfait (serves 1)

½ cup low fat greek yogurt

¼ cup granola or toasted dried oats

Fruits of choice (blueberries, strawberries, bananas)

walnuts

Layer a ¼ cup of yogurt in the bottom of a glass. Add 2 tablespoon of oats on top, layer again with a ¼ cup of yogurt, followed by fruits, layer again with rest of oats or granola and top it off with a layer of yogurt again. Finish off with nuts and fruits.

Low Magnesium: The Most Under-Diagnosed Deficiency

Gregg Carroll - Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unexplained fatigue, muscle aches, migraine headaches, premenstrual stress and sleeplessness are some common complaints we might experience, but did you know that individuals suffering from the aforementioned conditions could in part be the result of poor magnesium levels in the body? It might be hard to believe, but magnesium deficiency is one of the most under diagnosed and misdiagnosed deficiencies around the world. It is estimated that nearly 70% of the U.S. population alone suffers from magnesium deficiency.

 

What Does Magnesium Do for Us?

Magnesium participates in numerous biochemical reactions in our bodies -- nearly 300 of them -- including glucose absorption, energy release, the maintenence of nerve health and of a regular heart rhythm, and many others. Here is a quick look at the role of magnesium in our bodies:

Energy release: The presence of magnesium is crucial in the metabolism of glucose in our bodies. It is a part of the enzyme and catalyst biochemistry that activates carbohydrate metabolism, aiding in the release of glucose from food to supply energy to cells.

Electrolyte transport: Magnesium maintains the balance of the electrolytes potassium and sodium, and efficiently manages their transport into and out of cells. This influences bodily functions such as muscle contraction, the conduction of nerve impulses, and heart rhythm. A deficient state of magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, chronic pain, irritability and headaches due to improperly conducted nerve impulses.

Calcium status: Magnesium is vital for maintaining bone health, teeth formation, and the prevention of osteoporosis, as it has a significant role in the skeletal frame work. One study reported that magnesium deficient osteoporotic patients had brittle bones and larger bone crystals than non-osteoporotic women with normal magnesium levels. Magnesium triggers the secretion of parathyroid hormones and indirectly influences blood calcium levels. Parathyroid hormones are responsible for moving calcium from bones into the bloodstream and also signal kidneys to prevent calcium from being excreted in the urine.

Facilitates wound healing: Magnesium helps in the process of cell migration, cell signaling, and protein turn over which are vital steps in the healing of wounds.

Promotes insulin sensitivity: Many clinical studies indicate that the presence of magnesium positively influences insulin sensitivity, and efficient glucose uptake by cells. Low magnesium levels were directly associated with poor insulin response among subjects. Researchers of a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled study concluded that optimal magnesium levels prevent insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

 

How Do We Identify a Magnesium Deficiency?

Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is hard to detect through routine blood examination. Blood serum magnesium levels -- whether in a healthy or deficient individual -- remain the same at 1%. An average adult human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium with 60% concentrated in the skeleton, about 25% in muscles, 7% in other cells, and less than 1% in the blood. Hence, serum magnesium levels are not a good indicator of an individual's overall magnesium levels. Since physician miss detecting a deficient state of this crucial mineral in routine analysis, they often ask patients to recall previous medical history including pain and other symptoms.

 

What should you look for?

• Sudden, throbbing headaches, migraines.

• Sensitivity to light and sound.

• Twitching and frequent muscle spasms.

• Chronic muscle pain.

• Unexplained fatigue.

• Irregular heart rhythm.

• Depression.

• Poor attention to details, irritability, hyperactive state.

• Chronic muscle pain progressing to frequent numbness, pins and needles in feet, head, and hands.

• Nervousness, muscle weakness.

• Lack of sleep, anorexia.

 

Epidemiological data underscores that in the last two decades magnesium intake from standard western diet has decreased by 30-40%. This is largely due to high intake of refined and processed foods, poor fruit and vegetable consumption, and decreasing levels of magnesium in our soil. A 2005 study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition revealed worrying data that nearly 19% of the US population do not consume even half of the government’s recommendation for daily magnesium.

 

Magnesium facts:

• “Hard” water contains more magnesium than “soft' water.

• Processed and refined foods are low in magnesium.

• Conventional cooking lowers dietary magnesium.

• Whole grains, spinach, seeds and nuts are a great way to increase dietary magnesium intake.

• Magnesium is an “anti-stress” mineral.

• Protects against diabetes, stroke, heart problems and high blood presure.

 

Magnesium rich foods:

• Nuts

• Seeds

• Spinach

• Legumes, lentils

• Whole grains

• Avocado

• Cocoa

• Soy

• Algae, sea weed

 

Causes of deficiency:

• Chronic stress

• Poor intake from natural sources

• High intake of processed food

• Over consumption of alcohol, caffeine

• 80% loss in cooking and processing

 

Magnesium is also called the “master mineral” due to its diverse and varied role in human health. Humans have evolved around this important mineral, obtaining it directly from natural resources such as rivers, streams, lakes and plants grown from mineral-rich soil. Fortunately, there is an emerging interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders like hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

If corrective measures are taken to prevent magnesium deficiency, it can help to prevent many ailments and decrease the need for prescription drug treatment. Consuming foods that are naturally rich in magnesium is the first step towards preventing a deficiency. Nature has provided us with an abundant, natural magnesium in the form of plant foods, which also come with additional beneficial additives such as antioxidants and phytonutrients that help to prevent ailments and decrease the risk of disease.

It has been observed that in a number of economically poor countries where greens, nuts, seeds, lentils and legume consumption is high, there is an absence of magnesium deficiency. On the other hand, affluent nations that rely more heavily on processed foods report a prevalence of magnesium deficiency. Nature is our incredible healer, we are connected to the therapeutics of plants, and when we return to this connection we can liberate ourselves from ailments, disorders and diseases.

Fiber: An Essential Part of Your Diet

Gregg Carroll - Thursday, March 07, 2013

Have you heard a lot about fiber, but don't understand what it is and why it's important? Or wonder which type of fiber is best for you? If you think you are confused by fiber, you are not alone.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is exclusive to the plant kingdom. Dietary fiber cannot be digested by our body's digestion system, possesses no nutritive value, and provides no calories, yet it is necessary for maintaining our digestive and general health. There are two main types of dietary fiber that are of significance to human health. Soluble fiber that dissolves in water and insoluble fiber that does not dissolve or absorb water. Most plants are rich sources of both types of fibers which vary in benefit to human health.

Soluble fiber, also called pectin, dissolves partially in water and forms a gel which traps food components inside the stomach and delays the process of digestion. This process aids in slowing down the release of sugar in food into the blood stream and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Most fruits, vegetables and other plant foods such as nuts, seeds and grains are good sources of soluble fiber. The soluble fiber in oats is responsible for the thickening of oatmeal as it cools. Some of the best sources for soluble fiber include chia seeds, legumes, lentils, quinoa, barley and oats.

 

How Does Soluble Fiber Help?

• Soluble fibers can bind with fats and hinder their absorption. It has been shown that soluble fiber plays a significant role in decreasing high cholesterol levels.

• They help stabilize blood sugar levels by delaying the process of food digestion and the release of sugars into the bloodstream.

 

Insoluble fiber, otherwise known as cellulose, does not dissolve in water, but instead soaks up water and becomes bulky, like a puffed up sponge. This "puffing" nature of insoluble fiber adds bulk to the food was eat and imparts a feeling of fullness in the stomach. As with soluble fiber, you can find insoluble fiber in most fruits and vegetables. Good sources include oats, whole grains, lentils, most nuts like chestnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and seeds such as flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Other sources of insoluble fiber include the transparent layer over beans, and the string-like layers in a celery stalk.

 

How Does Insoluble Fiber Help?

• Promotes regular bowel movements by increasing food bulk.

• Helps maintain body weight by promoting the feeling of fullness.

• Maintains optimal pH levels in the intestines and decreases the risk of colon cancer.

• Aids in removal of waste in the lower intestine.

 

Major Benefits Associated with Fiber Consumption

• Lowers high blood cholesterol.

• Stabilizes blood sugar levels.

• Aids in weight loss and healthy weight management.

• Protects heart health.

• Promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

• Lowers the risk of many degenerative health conditions including cancer.

• Promotes regular bowel movements.

• Binds with harmful toxins and removes them from the body.

 

Fiber as Part of Our Daily Meal

While trying into increase your fiber intake it is not necessary to choose between soluble and insoluble fiber. Most plant foods naturally contain a good combination of both. Soluble and insoluble fibers are typically present in the same foods, although they may be in different parts of a whole food. For instance, apple peels are a good source of insoluble fiber, while the fleshy part is rich in soluble fiber.

According to the Institute of Medicine, adults and children should consume 14 grams per day of fiber for every 1000 calories consumed. You can obtain a good amount of dietary fiber if you include a similar menu below into your day's meal:

Breakfast: 11 grams

Oats topped with blueberries = 6 grams

(½ cup of LRF oats – 3 grams fiber, ½ cup blueberries – 3 grams)

 

Mid-morning:

Apple (small) = 5 grams

 

Lunch: 7.5 grams

Black bean salad = 7.5 grams

(½ cup cooked LRF black bean)

 

Dinner: 8 grams

Lentil and brown rice soup with vegetables = 8 grams (approximate)

(¼ cup Love Raw Foods™ Red Lentils = 4 grams, ¼ cup brown rice = 0.5 grams, vegetables (carrot, beans, peas etc = 3 to 4 grams)

 

Total Dietary Fiber: 11 + 7.5 + 8 grams = 26.5 grams

Food Quantity Fiber Content
Almonds 1 ounce 3.5 grams
Amaranth 100 g (cooked) 2.1 grams
Barley 100 g (cooked) 3.8 grams
Brazil nuts 1 ounce 2.1 grams
Buckwheat 100 g 10 grams
Coconut 1 cup shredded 7.2 grams
Flax seed 1 tablespoon 2.8 grams
Macadamia 1 ounce 2.4 grams
Oats 100 g 10.6 grams
Quinoa 100 g (cooked) 2.8 grams
Sesame seeds 1 tablespoon 1.1 grams
Spelt 100 g (cooked) 3.9 grams
Walnuts 1 ounce 1.9 milligrams

Source: USDA Food and Nutrition Center


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