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Archive for the ‘Micronutrients’ Category


Plants are friggin’ sexy. They have refined themselves through countless and fast life cycles to maximize their attractiveness to humans. Edible plants keep us sexy by helping us stay healthy, lean, youthful, energetic and glowy. Let me tell you a bit more.

Most of us don’t realize this, but plants that are exposed to more bugs (via fewer pesticides) actually have a stronger plant immunity. So yes, organic is usually better (there are some exceptions, and that’s another blog post, Darlin’.) Much like in the animal kingdom where the predator preys on the young and the weak, bugs prefer to eat weaker plants. They usually leave the stronger plants alone because strong plants produce their own pesticides & insecticides that repel creepy crawly pests. Essentially, the more bug exposure plants experience, the stronger the plants become because they are defending themselves by creating more of these endogenous* bug repellants. Gee, doesn’t that sound like a handy skill to have in during mosquito season?

The stress from pest exposure helps the strong plants become “super-duper” plants because they develop more endogenous phytochemicals**, while the creepy crawlies munch out on wimpier plants. This strong plant immunity results in tough anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-disease compounds within the plant that are just waiting to join you and help you in defending your body against modern diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other unappealing diseases. *THANK YOU, PLANTS!* This all promotes a sexier, stronger you!

Get your sexy on! First, start with colors. Eating a rainbow of colors will supply you with a better variety of nutrients. Try a new plant or fruit each week. Edible plants provide you with the hot-ticket phytonutrients that people pay a wallop of cash to buy in the form of supplements. You might already be familiar with a few of them: lycopene, zeaxanthin, lutein, carotenes, and so on. FYI: Supplements can never replace real food. You get waaaay more from whole foods than from the sum of its manufactured parts!

Do us both a favor: save the money you would spend on supplements by purchasing and eating more plants. At the end of the day, you will still have money left over, and have me over for dinner for telling you this money-saving, health-saving tip! Plants are pretty sexy, don’t you think?

What are your favorite plants to eat? Which ones are repulsive to you? Please post your answer in the comments below. I want to hear from YOU, oh sexy plant eater!

Do you think this post is helpful? Please rate it, “like” it, and share it with others! And thanks for reading. Love ya!

Hugs and plant kisses,

Frances

Definitions:

* Endogenous: produced from within

**Phytochemical:  These are protective, disease-preventing, non-nutritive plant substances that are vital for preventing diseases.

Phyto = plant

+ Phytonutrients: essential nutrients that protect and promote life, found in plants.

 

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Eat foods that closely resemble their form and color when plucked from the dirt, tree, or vine. Think: how did my body evolve to eat food? (this is not a subtle plug for raw food diets, so don’t get excited!) The more processing your  food has undergone, the fewer nutrients are left to help keep your immunity strong. What’s more? Processing often introduces novel proteins & other foods (those that are new and unusual and therefore not known to your body), which increases your exposure to harmful substances. These chemicals are linked to modern chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, obesity, malabsorption, food intolerances, digestive disturbances and more. Bleh! That is definitely not sexy!

For all y’all vegetarians out there, take a look at your fake meats, fake cheeses, fake milks, protein supplements. The ingredients are usually NO BUENO, friends. (Full disclosure: I was a vegetarian for 13 years and developed severe food intolerances largely in thanks to those highly processed fake vegetarian foods.)

 

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Most of us know someone who is a cancer survivor or is currently fighting this ravaging disease. I’ve taken a strong interest in cancer prevention and survival largely because I’m shocked over and over at how confused many healthcare providers and consumers appear when it comes to cancer and nutrition. I’ve met several people who tell me that their doctors believe there isn’t a connection between nutrition and cancer. Yet some nutrition professionals and researchers argue that the cancer-nutrition connection is almost 100%! When I talk with patients or families, they are often confused about what the connection is, and often consume foods that I think no cancer patient should consume (and these foods are provided by the hospital!). What further confuses patients is that the education around the connection is inconsistent, or even influenced by profit. For example, formulary companies have helped set industry standards to promote weight maintenance among cancer patients. This is achieved with high calorie, high protein supplements – also sold by these companies – and are vigorously promoted in many hospitals.

Interestingly, I’ve heard oncology dietitians emphasize normalizing weight as quickly as possible, which is definitely a different message. Many dietitians promote reducing inflammation, and our diets and body weights are two very effective ways to achieve this.

Often, the advice dietitians might give for anti-cancer nutrition is opposing that which hospitals are promoting. What’s up with that?

While most of us now know that there is a wealth of evidence-based research exposing the links of cancer to nutrition, it is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, preventing cancer through good nutrition holds more promise than curing cancer through good nutrition.  While I don’t expect MDs and surgeons to provide substantial nutrition education to their oncology patients, I do believe they are practicing responsible medicine by referring their cancer patients to a Registered Dietitian. It is a red flag if your oncologist does not believe that nutrition and cancer are related, as it is a sign that he or she likely lives under a rock in the bottom of the sea. To be fair to yourself and your provider, carefully clarify your MD’s position on nutrition and cancer to ensure you are understanding his or her philosophy. And ask for a dietitian referral if your MD doesn’t offer it initially.

 
So, what are the best answers for preventing and surviving cancer through nutrition? What does your body weight have to do with cancer? How do we chart the mucky and mischevious rivers, known as “nutrition guidelines”?

 

Join me as I interview Gretchen Gruender, an expert oncology dietitian at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She works closely with cutting edge oncologists and medical teams, guiding her patients with solid diet and lifeststyle advice. She will guide us along this river, giving us the tour of latest progressive insights behind nutrition and cancer. She will help us to identify the information we really need to know in cancer prevention and survivorship.

Are you interested in this topic? You have an opportunity to involve yourself in the audience. What questions do you have for Gretchen? Please write them in the comment box below, or post them on my Facebook page. I will select some of the questions to ask her on the show, and I will post this interview on my webpage for your review.

Love and Health,

Frances

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You wouldn’t knowingly put a nasty chemical onto your tongue because you don’t want your body to absorb it, right? Then why are you putting it onto your skin? At least if you swallow a poison, it has the benefits of your digestive track to help filter it out before it enters your blood stream. But when you put something onto your skin – your body’s largest organ – it absorbs into your blood stream very quickly. Unlike when you eat a toxin, when you put it onto your skin, you don’t get to pass the toxins out through your urine or bowels. Sure, some of the toxins you can sweat out, but when you are generously lathering lotions over your entire body every day, you’re building up quite the supply of chemicals, many of which your body doesn’t recognize as good. In fact, many commonly used ingredients, including organic products, in our beauty products are considered hazardous (read these myths about beauty products). If you want to know how your products rate, you can look them up at Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website.

Using vegetable oils on our skin is a simple, effective, affordable solution. The first benefit is that it’s less expensive. For an 8-oz bottle of high-quality, low-toxin lotion, I have to shell out anywhere from $10-$20 (maybe more). For a 17-oz bottle of grapeseed oil from the cooking oil aisle atTrader Joe’s, it’s around 5 bucks. For a large, 32-oz bottle of organic canola oil from my local co-op, it’s around $8. What’s more? I can cook with it, moisturize my body, use it for removing my eye makeup, and even get kinky with it. Interested? Keep reading.

Compelling reasons to use your kitchen oils as your body lotion:

  1. It’s healthier. Much, much healthier. Over the years, we’ve all heard the frightening warnings about chemicals found in our soaps, shampoos, makeup and lotion. The solution, we’re told, is to avoid the bad stuff by buying more expensive less-bad products. But even the top-end lotions cannot make the perfect product – inevitably, something odd ends up in there, like beeswax, cellulose, methylglucose sidtearate, glucosides, alcohols, and parfums. Okay, for the record, a beekeeper with beautiful skin did once tell me that come harvest-time, she anoints all of her skin with honey because it is the secret to a lovely complexion. But beeswax is not the same as honey. Plus, conventional beekeepers spray their hives with antibiotics and anti-microbials that are found in nearly every conventional bee honey available on the market. Gross. I’ll pass on conventional bee products, for now, in my skin products.
  2. Can’t stop thinking of it as a salad dressing? Using cooking oil is the same stuff you use in your food, obviously, but don’t let your imagination limit you! You can use it any way your heart desires. Pour it into an old lotion container and perfume it with your favorite essential oils. In the winter time, I use citrusy fragrances to make me feel bright and perky. In the summertime, I like lavender, rose, and vanilla. Sometimes I make blends, like bergamot, ginger, ylang ylang and vanilla. Make it a fragrance playground!
  3. Use it after the shower over you body, just as you would your lotion. I like to massage it into my skin and over my muscles – it feels like a nourishing act of kindness and compassion. You can also apply it as is recommended in Ayurveda: apply it 30 minutes or so before showering, and then wash it off. The heat from the shower opens your pores, allowing the oil to penetrate your skin more deeply. You won’t need to reapply after showering, and you can enjoy feeling deeply moisturized without feeling greasy.  If you want to learn more about choosing the right oil for your body type and using Ayurvedic massage, check out this video.
  4. You can also keep a bottle by the bed for intimate moments with your mate – it also makes as a sexy lube for both him and her.
  5. Another added bonus is that you absorb fatty acids from your oil, which contributes to your overall health. By using canola or safflower oil, you’re absorbing omega-3’s without having to actually eat additional fat. I’ve used almond, grapeseed, sesame, organic canola, and organic coconut oil (only when it’s really hot in the summertime because it is cooling). I only choose food grade cooking oils. I never buy them anymore from the beauty supply section, as they are usually manipulated with additives and preservatives. I don’t want preservatives on my body any more than I want them in my body.

Establish a code for yourself that if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Some exceptions exist, like for shampoo, makeup, face lotions, and sunscreens. But you don’t need to make this exception when it comes to your skin moisturizer. You will not only preserve your health’s integrity, you will also save yourself some pretty pennies.

I’d love to see your comments and suggestions. And if you like this post, please email this article to friends and share it on your social media sites. Thanks for your support, amigos!

Love,

Frances

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I’ve felt a bit taxed the last few days, as though a cold is reaching its long, nasty tentacles for me. I made a super-immune booster drink in less than five minutes, and I’ve felt great ever since I consumed it this morning. It contains fresh carrots and orange juice, both which boast large amounts of immune-powering vitamin C and flavanones, which are specialty flavonoids that protect you from many diseases.

Ginger hosts potent antioxidants as well, and holds its own for biting back at cancer tumors. It’s known for its immune-enhancing properties in Ayurvedic medicine, and the story goes like this: ginger is hot, which opens pores and allows you to sweat out toxins. The toxins that don’t make it out through your pores can become neutralized by ginger because it is an anti-pyretic for the common cold. (Read more about Ayurveda and medicinal uses for ginger here.) Aromatically, ginger gives this drink an exciting and pungent kick, so start off with small amounts if you aren’t used to it.

Use ORGANIC. Organic supplies you with better nourishment than conventional, plus it will save your body from the burden of processing synthetic pesticides in your food.

Don’t be a weeny – drink the damn pulp! Unless you have a medical condition that forbids you consume fiber (and you probably don’t), you need your fiber. If you use a juicer for this recipe, add the pulp back into your juice.  The fiber is a *brilliant* gift of life, and your DNA evolved consuming A LOT of roughage. Most Americans are missing out on the valuable benefits fiber. The average American barely meets one-third to one-half of their recommended fiber intake. What a loss! Fiber improves your overall weight, too. It fills you for longer, which encourages you to eat less! If you weren’t filling up on fiber, chances are that you’d fill up on fat and carbs instead. It also slows the rate of sugar entering your blood, so your blood sugar is more stable. Real Americans eat fiber!

So there.  Drink and be merry for this glass of juice and all its fibery goodness. It’s a lovely smoothie. Give thanks you have tasty, life-giving foods. Be happy you aren’t drinking Sunny Delight or Hawaiian Punch.

Have another wonderful juice recipe? Please share it with us in the comments section below!

If you like this post, please share with your friends on email, twitter, facebook, or wherever you like.

Bottoms up,

Frances

Vitamix Blender

Makes 2 servings

Equipment needed: A mighty, mighty blender that is tough enough to puree carrots (I use a VitaMix). You can use a juicer, if you have one.

Assemble:

4 carrots, washed and chopped into chunks (sized appropriately for your blender) – avoid skinning them to retain nutrients.

2-4 Tbsp RAW ginger – peel ginger skin (don’t fuss over getting it all off, or you will ruin a pleasant evening). Chop coarsely. *If using powdered ginger, sprinkle it into juice lightly because it tastes about 6X stronger when powdered.

Optional: apple slices (leave skin on)

Orange or apple juice.

WAAAIT! Add a little water to this blender, shake and drink it down (or give it to your compost bucket).You can also scrape with a spatula. Don't let it go to waste -we're in a depression and resources are precious.

Combine carrots and ginger in your mighty, mighty blender. Fill with enough juice so that it just passes the top of the vegetable line. Puree. Add more juice if needed. Taste and adjust the ginger or any other flavors, if needed.

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Rainier Cherries

Pretty. Sweet. Juicy.  Healthful. Extremely healthful, actually. Doesn’t it seem like Nature makes extra efforts to ensure that her many Earthly species are delivered nourishment beyond what many of us ever imagined? When it comes to pleasure, cherries are winners for packing taste and powerful nutrients into a tiny package. As if you (or anyone) needed another reason to fall in love with succulent cherries, this blog post makes the case for reasons why cherries should top your summertime food charts.

  1. Bing cherries are associated with reduced markers for heart disease in both women and men.
  2. Tart cherries contain anthocyanins that can increase insulin  production in animal models. Cyanidins, also found in cherries, have been linked to reduced weight and blood glucose.
  3. Montmorency cherries may promote sleep because they are abundant in melatonin.
  4. Black and Bing cherries contain cyanidin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. This translates into protection from gout, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. It also may protect your skin from ultra-violet rays and reduce artherosclerosis.
  5. Research at Michigan State University revealed that about 20 cherries per day may help ward off headaches. Another study found that tart cherry juice drunk post-weight training workout reduced muscle pain and loss of strength.
  6. Numerous studies have helped identify compounds that prevent the formation of carcinogenic substances. Most notably, tart cherries have been identified as helpful in preventing colon cancer.

Beyond including these darling fruits in your diet, the only other thing I could recommend is  to buy them fresh from your local Farmer’s Market. They will be freshly picked and rushed straight to the market, meaning that the nutrients are fresher, more potent, and more delicious. Not only that, but you will be supporting your local farmer and local economy. With nature and your local farmers taking care of you, and you taking care of your local farmer and your health, you will surely feel the satisfaction that leads one to say, “Life really is a bowl of cherries.”

Please share your cherry-riffic thoughts in the comments section below.

To Health, Happiness, & Love,

Frances

www.NamasteNutritionist.com 

Additional Resources:

Michigan State University Cherry resources

Selecting, storing, and preparing cherries

Ten ways to enjoy cherries (includes recipes)

More on Cherry Varieties from Leslie Beck, RD

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Grind flax seeds shortly before adding to food.

So you’ve heard the buzz about the importance of Omega 3s, and you’ve heard the emphasis about its proportions to Omega 6s being important. But why do they really matter?

It boils down to this: omega are essential fatty acids (EFAs), meaning that humans must acquire them from the diet because our bodies do not produce them. Omega 6s work by increasing inflammation in the body. Despite the buzz about the perilous nature of inflammation, it is actually a critical function in healthy immunity, blood clotting, and cellular reproduction. You need some level of inflammation. But we get into trouble because our modern diets promote ridiculous amounts of inflammation, which can lead to insulting conditions on our bodies. The goal is to achieve balance.

This is where our friend Omega-3 enters the center stage. This EFA downplays everything Omega-6 does. In a natural environment, we would probably enjoy a near-perfect balance among these EFAs, and might take it for granted that they matter or even exist. But thanks to government food subsidies of corn and soy, and cheap food manufacturing, our EFA intake has a serious tip in its scales. Soybean oil is so common in processed foods that the average American is estimated to receive a whopping 10-20% of its calories from soy oil alone. Think you don’t eat processed foods? Think again. Every food item you eat that was prepared outside of your kitchen, including restaurant foods and snack foods, are processed and likely contain corn, soy, and/or canola oils.

So, why should you care? This EFA imbalance may be a major contributor to asthma, heart disease, many types of cancer, obesity, arthritis, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, dyslexia, dementia, depression, post-partum depression, and violence.  Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institutes of Health, advocates bringing these fats into balance to reduce these conditions. He cited a study showing that after omega-3 fish oils and vitamins were added to British prisoners’ diets, the violence in the prison dropped by 37 percent. Here’s another view point: Japan is arguably the happiest and most peaceful developed country, and the average Japanese consumes 145 pounds of seafood yearly. In contrast, the average American consumes about 40 pounds of fish, and while we are more prosperous and enjoy more open land than Japanese, we are more depressed and unsatisfied with our lives.

While supplementing may seem like the obvious answer, examine your options before running out for the next bottle of fish oil that you can find. Not only is supplementing with fish oil taxing on the environment, fish oil supplements are not FDA regulated and may end up costing you a lot of money without giving you the benefits you are seeking. It is possible that these supplements may even contain more omega 6 fats than omega 3s, as explained in my last post. Plus, if you are watching the oils you consume, eat fewer processed foods, and consume more of the omega-3 food items, you should have no problem improving your omega 3:omega 6 ratio.

Consider options that are more environmentally friendly, such as vegetarian sources of omega 3s, outlined here. If you eat meat, eat more grass-fed animals, such as beef, lamb, and chicken. Even the milk from grass-fed dairy cows or goats will contain more omega-3s than when fed from corn, soy, and other food items. Purchasing grass-fed meats from a local rancher or butcher may give you more confidence in the source of this food, support your local food producers, and will likely support more humane animal husbandry.

If you do opt for supplementing your diet, seek oils with a five-star rating from the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) at www.nutrasource.ca. This Canadian organization monitors the purity of fish oil supplements to help ensure you are getting just what you are paying for.

Finally, we can all improve our EFA ratios by reducing the amount of omega-6 fats we consume. Omega 6s are abundant in processed and cheap foods, so cook at home more to avoid them. Again, check out this post to see the list of omega-6 EFAs.

Stay Happy & Healthy!

Frances

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