Tag Archives: antioxidants

Phytic Acid-The Mineral Reducer

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You may have heard of phytic acid as a “mineral reducer,” and this is very true. Eating raw nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes can prevent your body from absorbing some of the minerals from your food. 

But phytic acid has another side too.  It has some health benefits.

Do you soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains and legumes?

Is it to help improve their digestibility? To help increase their nutrition?

Perhaps, it’s to reduce phytic acid?

Phytic acid is naturally present in most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes; it is the plant’s storage form of the mineral phosphorus and is used as energy when the plant starts to grow.

The highest levels of phytic acid are found in rice bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, and walnuts.

Phytic acid and minerals

You may have heard of phytic acid being referred to as an “anti-nutrient”.

Phytic acid binds to the minerals iron, zinc, and calcium preventing them from being fully absorbed when eaten; this is why phytic acid is known as a “mineral reducer.”

FUN FACT: Phytic acid’s effects only apply to mineral-containing foods in the current meal. Once digested, there is no mineral reduction on any future meals and there is no impact to the minerals your body has already absorbed.

Phytic acid’s health benefits

Phytic acid isn’t all bad – it has some health benefits too.

It can act as an antioxidant. It can also help reduce your risk of kidney stones, heart disease, and even some cancers.

Because it loves minerals (which are metals), phytic acid in your gut can also bind to any heavy metals (the metals we don’t want too much of) that may have hitched a ride with your food.

How to reduce phytic acid

As you can see, phytic acid shouldn’t be a huge concern, unless your main foods at most meals are nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Because many of these are nutritious foods, you probably don’t want to cut all of them completely out of your diet.

Considering both the good and bad properties of phytic acid, you may still want to reduce how much you consume. Maybe you want to increase your mineral intake. If so, here are two popular methods to naturally reduce phytic acid:

  • Soaking – Place nuts, seeds, grains or legumes in a bowl, cover with water and leave overnight. Then drain the water and rinse before eating or preparing.
  • Sprouting – After soaking, draining, and rinsing, place damp nuts, seeds, grains or legumes into a container that’s exposed to the air (like a mason jar with a mesh lid). Every 8 hours or so, re-rinse them and drain the water. Continue doing this for a few days until you see sprouts peeking out.

Tip on soaking beans. As a bean (legume) lover I prefer to make my bean dishes from “scratch”. Meaning, I purchase dry beans and soak them overnight in a bowl with plenty of water. This is key. In my experience, if the beans are above the water line when you check them in the morning the chances are they won’t soften during the cooking process. The beans have to be well covered with plenty of fresh water during the overnight soak which also speeds up the cooking process. I also believe everyone could benefit from eating more beans!!

Why do soaking and sprouting help reduce phytic acid in certain foods? It is because being wet is a “sign” to leave their dormant (dry) state and start a new life.  Enzymes activated during soaking and sprouting deactivate phytic acid to use its energy and stored minerals for the plant as it begins to grow.

Conclusion

Phytic acid has a bad rap as a mineral reducer. It’s found in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Yes, it most definitely prevents absorption of critical minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, if they’re in your gut at the same time. Phytic acid in food can become a health concern if you are deficient in these minerals, or if your diet is largely based on nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.

But, if you eat a varied diet, then phytic acid shouldn’t be as much of a concern. In fact, phytic acid does have some health benefits.

If you want to reduce it in your food, you can soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes.

Recipe (soaked almonds): Almond Vanilla Latte Smoothie

Serves 1

¼ cup almonds, soaked overnight & rinsed

½ cup coconut milk

½ cup strong coffee, cold (or chai tea if you prefer)

½ banana, frozen

1 tsp vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until almonds are smooth.

Add ice, if desired

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: By using soaked almonds, they tend to blend up smoother than hard and crunchy dry almonds do.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/phytic-acid-101/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-to-reduce-antinutrients/

Disclaimer

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Eight tips for choosing supplements wisely

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We all know the vast array of supplements on the market today. It seems that new ones are launched every day and there is more and more marketing lingo that promises to save your health.

And  remember the supplement business is a multi billion dollar industry!

But you are a savvy health-conscious consumer. You eat well, and you want to make sure you’re making wise choices with your health (and money).

There are a lot of choices out there, so I hope that the tips for choosing wisely are helpful.  After reading this post, should you decide you want guidance deciding which supplements are right for you contact me at 778-363-0779 or drop me a line at tessanp@shaw.ca

I’d love to get to know you better.  Meanwhile, read on……

Here are eight expert tips for you when choosing supplements:

Tip #1: If you’re in a country that licenses or pre-approves supplements (like I am in Canada), then make sure you’re getting the real thing, and not some illegally imported bootleg of a product.

Why?

This is your health, and it’s important enough to make sure you’re getting a product that at least meets the minimum requirements in your country. There are always recalls and safety alerts issued for contaminated supplements, or products that don’t even contain what they say they do.

Don’t get me wrong! This health authority approval is not a perfect gauge of quality, but it does have some benefits worth considering.

How?

In Canada, you would check its approval by making sure it has an 8-digit “NPN” number on the front label. This number means that the company meets the required standards (including quality standards and truthfulness of their labeling). And, if something does go wrong, there is someone who you can complain to (the company or Health Canada’s MedEffect program) and who is responsible (the company).

If you’re not in a country that pre-approves supplements, make sure what you buy meets the regulations of your country. If you have to look up the company or product online or call them, please do it – don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions before you use any health products. If the only address or phone number is not in your country, then steer clear, because if something goes wrong it’s possible that nothing can be done about it.

Tip #2: Read (and heed) the warnings, cautions and contraindications.

Why?

You don’t want a reaction, right?

How?

Check the label for things like:

  • To consult a healthcare practitioner if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or
  • If you have certain medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, auto-immune disease, diabetes, ulcers, etc.), or
  • If you are taking certain medications (e.g. like blood thinners or immune suppressants, etc.) or
  • If you are taking other supplements, or
  • If you shouldn’t take it for more than a certain length of time (e.g. 6 or 8 weeks).

Tip #3: Look at the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients for things you might be allergic to, or have reacted to in the past.

Why?

Just as you would do this with foods and medicines, do this with supplements. Again, you don’t want a reaction, right?

And even if you’ve used a product before, check it each time you buy it. Manufacturers may make changes to ingredients from time to time.

How?

Any credible supplement company will list every active ingredient, as well as the inactive ingredients. The print may be small, but worthwhile.

Info not there? Give them a call. Most reputable companies have a toll-free number on the bottle, or at the very least their website address.

PRO TIP: You can look up any Canadian NPN number on Health Canada’s database here:

https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/index-eng.jsp

Tip #4: Read the labelled “Indications” or “Uses” (a.k.a. How can this product help me?).

Why?

Be skeptical of health claims. What is the company claiming that their product can help you with? Beware of people  who tell you that this product can help you beyond what’s on the label. If they heard about it, or found it in a book, that may or may not be reliable information.

How?

Don’t be fooled by “sciencey” sounding words.  Ask for scientific studies, or look it up on credible websites that don’t make money from selling supplements (such as Examine, or the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements).

Tip #5: What “dose forms” can you get (i.e. tablets, capsules, powder, liquid, etc.)?

Why?

I personally prefer capsules. This is because tablets and caplets are not very easy to absorb because they’re compacted into a hard rock-like form that sometimes doesn’t break down in your digestive system.

You may prefer powders and liquids as they are easier to swallow and to absorb.  They can go “off” quicker because every time you open the bottle, you’re exposing all of the contents to the oxygen, moisture and microbes in the air. They can also be difficult to get accurate dosing (especially if they need to be shaken well).

Capsules (my preferred form) are powders placed into tiny dissolvable…capsules. You can get vegan capsules or gelatin capsules. They’re not compressed, so they’re more easily absorbed (they’re still loose powder), and the capsule itself provides an extra layer of protection from oxidation and contamination from the air.

How?

The front label should mention this loud and clear. Along with how many are in each bottle.

Tip #6: How much/many do you need for a recommended dose?

Why?

This is important to keep in mind because you may not want to take several capsules per day in order to get the recommended dose. Plus, many (but not all) bottles contain a 30 day supply. This helps you see how much you need to take, as well as the real cost per serving/dose.

How?

Read carefully.

Is the label information based on one capsule, two…maybe six? The amounts of each nutrient listed on the label may be based on each dose, or the entire daily dose.

For example, if a label recommends you take 2 capsules per day, the active ingredient amounts listed may be the total amount in those 2 capsules, unless it says “per 1 capsule”.

Yes, for this one you do need to read carefully.

Tip #7: Check the storage requirements and expiry date.

Why?

These two go hand-in-hand because the expiry date is based on how that supplement degrades over time at certain temperatures, humidity and light exposure.

How?

If the bottle says that it should be refrigerated, make sure it’s in the fridge at the store, or shipped in a refrigerated truck.

If it says to refrigerate after opening, then make sure once that seal is broken, you keep it in your fridge.

If it says to keep out of sunlight, make sure the store/shipping company is doing that, and that you do that too. This is sometimes why supplements are in dark or opaque bottles – to prevent sunlight from degrading it before the expiry date.

And, of course, I wouldn’t recommend taking supplements past their expiry date. After this date the manufacturer does not guarantee the quality or dose of the product.

Tip #8: If you’re trying a new supplement for the first time, start slow.

Why?

Keep an eye out for both positive and negative reactions, and act accordingly.

How?

You don’t have to dive right into a full daily dose on day 1. Try starting with half-doses, or skipping days for a week or two before ramping up to the recommended dose.

I hope these eight tips serve you well!

And remember there is no substitute for a healthy diet.

Still want more information?  I can help. Contact me at tessanp@shaw.ca

 

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Coffee-Should I or Shouldn’t I?

 

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If you want to know whether you should drink coffee or avoid it, today’s post is for you. Coffee affects different people differently. It has some health benefits, but there are people who should avoid it.

Is this you? What should you consider before your next cuppa joe?

Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).

Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.

NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.

Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

 Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance
  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  • Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

 Coffee and health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
  • Increased sleep disruption
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of certain liver diseases
  • Lower risk of death (“all-cause mortality”)
  • Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.

Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
  • People who often feel anxious
  • People who have trouble sleeping
  • People who are pregnant
  • Children
  • Teens

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

  • Give you the jitters?
  • Increase anxious feelings?
  • Affect your sleep?
  • Give you heart palpitations?
  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/coffee-good-or-bad/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/a-wake-up-call-on-coffee

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-your-coffee-habit-help-you-live-longer-201601068938

 

 

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Saving my sister’s life with food

The food abuse had been going on for years, leading to obesity, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  This  was managed with a myriad of medications. I think at one point she told me she was on nine different medications!  Some 20 years later, it all came to a head with a medical crisis (though there were many warning signs prior to this), one that to this day leave some serious physical, mental and emotional scars.

It sounds dramatic but I can assure you it’s no  exaggeration because I was there and I’m still there today helping my sister negotiate her way back to health through nutrition.

But let me back up a bit to the day I flew to Alberta with no idea if I would be heading straight to the hospital or my sister’s home.  Because for the past year or so, her life consisted of one medical crisis after the next that no medical professional could figure out.

She was plagued with chronic, acute diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, near fainting spells, severe pain in her shoulders, neck and head that seemed to be progressively getting worse.  The irony was that she was losing weight, something that had alluded her for years even though I was right there, with all the knowledge and expertise in nutrition and weight loss, for whatever reason, she didn’t want to know.  As time went on and her symptoms were not improving, the realization hit home; her disease could no longer be chemically managed through traditional medicine.

During our many telephone conversations I had suggested the possibility that the medications could be causing these issues.  However, she felt that the doctors, either her own or the many that had treated her in the ER would have caught that. Eventually, one of them did.  It turned out that she had developed a severe reaction to Metformin, the drug prescribed to control the type 2 diabetes.

It was shortly after I arrived, following another doctor visit, that she was given this information about the Metformin.  She was immediately taken off the drug and within 24 hours there was an improvement in her symptoms. She also decided, along with her family doctor that she wanted to come off  many of the other medications she was being prescribed.

Of course she was depleted and exhausted but now she could focus on recovery and building back her strength.  She became increasingly interested in nutrition and the type of foods that would support her recovery and those foods in particular that could also help manage her blood sugar. So I got to work, I finally had an opportunity to help her gain control of her health and trust me, I had her undivided attention this time!

It was not easy I was dealing with food restrictions, likes, dislikes and sensitivities.  But she was a willing participant, highly motivated and desperately wanting to feel better.  So I started to cook, using  real whole foods, plant foods, anti-inflammatory foods, supportive herbs and spices all prepared in a method for easy digestion and maximum nutrient uptake.  I filled the fridge and freezer and left a menu of easy to follow recipes.

There were also some supplement requirements due to vitamin and mineral depletion, in particular, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.  I started slow and kept it simple.  I didn’t know how her body would react. There has been some trial and error and set backs, but the good news to date is that her blood sugar is stable, she has kept the weight off  and  now, she is in control of her health.

 

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

Celery, an overlooked vegetable

You probably haven’t given much thought to celery, an often overlooked vegetable.  But think again, this inexpensive vegetable is chock full of nutrients that pack a punch when it comes to our health.  Let me tell you about a few of those health benefits, some that may surprise you:

  • Low calorie, no surprise here and well, we can all use that
  • High fibre, exercise for our digestive tract
  • Excellent source of a wide range of antioxidants including Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Manganese-we need that to keep that nasty oxidative stress at bay so our cells stay healthy
  • Antioxidant phytonutrients-these babies protect against inflammation, a well known marker for a number of disease states
  • Phytochemicals that are thought to help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels
  • High in Vitamin K-important for blood clotting and bone health
  • Low on the Glycemic index/load factor meaning no spikes in blood sugar

We mostly think of celery as cut up and eaten raw with dips, peanut butter or cheese (no cheese whiz please!), but did you know that celery lends itself well to being cooked just like the one from my favourite cooking mag fine cooking.  I hope you will give it a try and if Beluga lentils seem a little exotic or hard to find any brown lentil will do.  I personally love puy lentils (also known as French lentils) they hold their shape beautifully and taste great. Enjoy.

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/caramelized-celery-lentils.aspx

Important small print you must read:
Disclaimer
The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.