Busting the (Whole) Grain Myth – UC Davis Integrative Medicine

With the back and forth of grains, no grains, things can get a bit confusing. Many people are sensitive to grains, and should remove them from the diet. But, does that mean that everyone should stay away from grains?

Personally, I do avoid grains, because of a food sensitivity. I did an elimination diet about one year ago, to discover which foods aggravate my sinus migraines. Unfortunately, grains are on that list. But, I believe most people can safely eat grains, as long as they are prepared properly. Our ancestors who ate grain, typically soaked and fermented them, prior to eating. This helps the body digest them more easily.

Overall, what is the consensus on grains? Should you be eating grains? Are grains bad? Can humans digest grains? All this and more can be found in this interesting article from UC Davis – Integrative medicine. Here, they dispel some of the myths surrounding grains.

Have a look:


Exploring the nutritional controversies surrounding whole grain: does it make you fat, should you include it in your diet, and more.

Source: Busting the (Whole) Grain Myth – UC Davis Integrative Medicine

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Fats – A short review

Hello everyone… I’m in the midst of a big assignment for school, so instead of moving on to the next topic in our series on fats, I decided to repost the three previous posts in the series. This will be a good review, since the last article on saturated fats, was posted almost 3 months ago! Sheesh, doesn’t time go so fast?!

Since the 1970’s, fat has been demonized as the primary cause of heart disease. There are so many questions about fat. Is it good? Is it bad? Does it cause heart disease? Does it clog arteries? Is it the cause of our obesity epidemic? These are questions, which were all researched in the 1970’s, and are still being researched by scientists today.

This series includes all of these questions and more, covering all types of fats.  (✅ = already covered)

  1.  Fat-the basics ✅
  2. Trans Fatty Acids ✅
  3. Saturated fat ✅
  4. Unsaturated fat
  5. Omega fat
  6. Fats to avoid
  7. Cholesterol

Below, I have provided links to the first 3 articles in the series. The following articles touch on fat basics, trans-fats and saturated fats, along with a bonus “Have you seen this?” article answering the question: “Is saturated fat good for you”

FAT: THE BASICS

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Understanding Trans-fats

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Saturated Fat

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Saturated Fat is good for you!

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So, next month, we will get back on track, beginning with unsaturated fats, followed by omega fats in March, fats to avoid in April, and ending with Cholesterol in May. Since working through all of the macronutrients took quiet a bit of time, I’ll finish of with a review article, similar to this one, in June. After that, we will finally be finished with the Macronutrients. In July, we will begin working through the vitamins and minerals one by one, beginning with the water soluble vitamin Thiamine (B1).

I apologize for having to do this “review” article. However, despite my best planning, sometimes my school work gets the better of me and I just get behind.

If you have any questions, or have a nutrition topic you’d like covered, submit a comment through the contact form below, or email me at: purplealmondnutrition@gmail.com

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Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Saturated Fats

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Saturated Fatty Acids have been demonized since the 1970’s and as far back as the 1950’s, when Ancel Keys published his famous “7 Country Study“. However, many studies are now beginning to show that saturated fat isn’t the bad guy we’ve been led to believe. For example, tropical oils are one of the items deemed “unsafe”, by the federal government, due to the high amounts of saturated fat in the oils. However, one study proved that coconut oil prevented cell death due to the high amounts of medium chain saturated fats, as well as polyphenolic antioxidants. (3) Other studies suggests coconut oil has anti-oxidant and anti-stress qualities, along, anti-cancer properties as well as the ability to lower serum LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) (5), (6). (7)

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What is saturated fat?

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Remember from my first fat article, there are 3 main classes of fatty acids. Mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated and saturated fats. Unsaturated fatty acids have either one or more double bonds, as seen below:

Saturated Fatty Acids – SFA – have all single bonds between the carbon. Because there are no double bonds in the chain, SFA’s are rigid and inflexible, and completely surrounded or SATURATED with hydrogen. This rigid nature makes them quite dense, and, therefore solid at room temperature. (as seen in the image below)

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IMAGE SOURCE: (1)

Why we need saturated fat…

When you begin to worry about too much saturated fat intake, keep this in mind. EVERY CELL MEMBRANE IN YOUR BODY IS 50% SATURATED FAT! One article I read describes the cell wall as the “consistency of olive oil studded with proteins“. These proteins are anchored by saturated fats; without which the proteins would literally float away. (1) Our bodies do have the capability to produce saturated fatty acids from carbohydrates, however, this is in relatively small amounts, from 1 to 5 grams a day, depending on diet.  So intake of healthy forms of saturated fats, such as coconut oil, is essential.

Benefits of saturated fats:  (2)

  1. Strengthen bones by helping calcium fully incorporate into the skeleton. 
  2. Lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease. 
  3. Protect the liver from  toxins.
  4. Enhance the immune system.
  5. Needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3
  6. Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. 

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Types of food that contain saturated fats:

When you think of saturated fats, you typically think of animal foods, such as beef and whole fat dairy. However, the foods with the highest percentages of saturated fat are actually plants. See table 1 below from www.westonaprice.org:

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Good saturated fats vs bad saturated fats.

AVOID THIS!

Any form of processed food from either plants or animals

  • bacon
  • sausage
  • lunch/deli meat
  • Factory farm raised meat – including beef, chicken and turkey
  • Any form of farm raised fish
  • non-organic forms of dairy (especially ultra-pasteurized)
  • hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oil

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Anything from a whole food source, either plant or animal

  • Coconut products including – Whole coconuts, coconut flakes, Extra virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut butter 
  • Organic, 100% grass-fed butter – (if you can find “raw” butter, all the better)
  • Organic, 100% grass-fed whole fat yogurt (again – raw is best, but difficult to find)
  • Organic Pasture raised eggs
  • Organic 100% grass-fed beef
  • Organic Pasture raised chicken and turkey
  • Raw Cacao butter
  • MCT oil (Medium Chain Triglyceride)
  • wild caught fish/salmon
  • Raw cheese

Sources:

  1. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/saturated-fat-body-good/
  2. http://www.health-report.co.uk/saturated_fats_health_benefits.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28412883
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25452773
  5. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009912004001201
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25452773
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28924490

Ultimate guide to nutrients: Carbohydrates-The Basics

Carbohydrates are a bit of a complex topic, so we’ll be breaking it down, in order to cover it properly. The challenge will be to cover the topic, help you understand what they are and why we need them, without boring you to tears. Future articles will cover:

  • Simple sugars
  • artificial sugars
  • oligosaccharides
  • starch
  • dietary fiber

This article will cover the basics, and yes, there needs to be a bit of science involved…sorry! 🙂  Carbohydrates are basically chains of sugar.  One thing to remember about ALL carbohydrates: THEY ALL, YES ALL, break down into SIMPLE SUGARS in the body, whether it’s a piece of candy or a whole grain bran muffin. To your body, both items, when broken down, are identical. The only difference between the two is the length of time it takes the body to break down the sugar. Because of the fiber and complex sugars in the muffin, it takes longer to digest, and has less of an impact on your body. In other words, the fiber in the muffin will cause less of a “sugar spike” and keep you full longer.

A carbohydrate, by definition, is an organic compound made up of varying numbers of monosaccharides. A monosaccharide is 1 single molecule of sugar.  ALL carbohydrates, when broken down in the body, are broken down into one of the basic monosaccharides.(Yes even that bowl of brown rice 🙂 )

Carbohydrates are broken down into 2 categories: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES-consist of monosaccharides and disaccharides.This category includes glucose. The function of glucose in the body is to provide the cells of the body energy. Other energy sources can be used, but it is the preferred fuel for the nervous system/brain and the sole energy source red blood cells. In other words, carbohydrates are a very important part of any healthy diet. Here’s a breakdown of simple carbohydrates.

  • Monosaccharides-1 sugar molecule
    • glucose
    • fructose
    • galactose
  • Disaccharides-2 sugar molecules
    • lactose-made up of galactose and glucose…found in milk and dairy products
    • sucrose-made up of fructose and glucose…simple table sugar
    • maltose-made up of 2 glucose molecules…not found in many food items, but instead made from the breakdown of starch, such as the production of beer.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES-consist of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. This is the group of foods from which we should be eating. Here is the complex carbohydrate breakdown:

  • Oligosaccharides-3 – 10 sugar molecules. Oligosaccharides are found in many foods, such as lentils, beans, and peas. The human body lacks the enzyme necessary to digest oligosaccharides. Instead, they are broken down by the friendly bacteria in our large intestine, and therefore VERY important, because these little friends help keep our digestive system and the rest of our body, healthy and happy. One side effect of this process is bloating, cramps and gas. (Like when you eat a bowl of chili or beans…this is why!) the two most common oligosaccharides are:
    • raffinose
    • stachyose
  • Polysaccharides– more than 10 sugar molecules.
    • Glycogen-this is the storage form of sugar in the body, primarily found in the liver and muscles.
    • Starch- found in wheat, corn, squash, oats, grains, potatoes, yams, etc.
    • Dietary fiber- found in plants, not digested or absorbed by the body. Instead it is partially broken down by friendly gut bacteria and helps to “clean” the digestive tract.

 

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Table 1: categories of carbohydrates

What type of carbohydrates should you eat?

Don’t be afraid of carbs! You’re body needs them! It’s important to include healthy sources of carbohydrates in your diet. If you eliminate simple sugars, processed sugar and refined food, and focus on whole food carbohydrates you’ll be fine.

Another tip, adding a healthy fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or organic cultured butter will slow the digestion down even more.

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Next week we’ll continue on with our discussion on carbohydrates with an article on sugars, what to use and what to avoid. Let me know if you have any questions on the above information. I hope it came across clear for you. Stay tuned throughout the week as I introduce you to some ancient grains and healthy carbohydrates!

SOURCE: McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013). Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food.  (3rd edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

 

7 Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Butter Nutrition – Dr. Axe

Butter?…healthy?…what? Yes! At least if you use the right kind. I’m not talking about just any old butter, but proper grass-fed, preferably cultured, butter. It is an amazing source of healthy medium chain triglycerides, (MCT), the same type as in coconut oil. Did you also know it’s okay to add butter to your steamed green beans or broccoli? In fact I encourage it. Why? Because the fat-soluble vitamins in vegetables cannot be absorbed into your body without fat that is consumed at the same time. So, yes, all those years you were trying to be “good”, and used “fat-free” dressing on your salad, or ate veggies without fat, you were robbing your body of valuable fat soluble vitamins: vitamin A, D, E and K.

I found a wonderful article about the benefits of proper, grass-fed butter, by Dr. Axe. The link is below the infographics.

Source: 7 Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Butter Nutrition – Dr. Axe