10 awesome probiotic foods and Why to eat them!

The human body contains more foreign microbes than human cells. In fact there are trillions of microbes in your gut alone. However, you also have a healthy microbiome in your mouth, in your eyes and on your skin. That begs the question(s): Are you feeding your little friends properly? Are you eating enough probiotic (microbe) rich food?

You may ask why you need to feed them and, if you have so many, why eat more? These are all good questions. The chances are that you are indeed feeding them, but, if fed the wrong thing, certain microbes can become overgrown and take over, causing negative symptoms including: fatigue, brain fog, digestive distress, sinus infections, and more.

By feeding them the proper, healthy kinds of probiotic foods, you cancel out the overgrowth in favor of a healthy gut population. When this microbiome is in balance, wonderful things can happen.

10 reasons to eat probiotic rich foods

  1. Provide enzymes to aid in digestion– These enzymes are especially helpful for the middle-age diet. Probiotics boost enzyme levels, which decline with age. They also contribute to anti-aging and longevity.
  2. Build a protective barrier along the digestive tract. This barrier prevents leaky gut, which allows larger molecules than normal to pass through, leading to food sensitivities or allergies and even autoimmune disorders.
  3. Produce anti-biotic and anti-viral substances to protect the gut and the body. These substances provide immune protection for the gut and the entire body.
  4. Help lower the pH in the digestive tract. These helpful little bugs produce the short chain fatty acids butyric acid and proprionic acid. “these organic acids lower the ph in the GI tract, making it more acidic which reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria.”
  5. Nourish and energize the cell lining of the GI Tract – “It is estimated that the gut cells receive 60-70% of their energy from bacterial activity.”
  6. Produce vitamins – This further enhances the nutrition value of the probiotic food.
  7. Eliminates toxins and waste from the colon.
  8. Positively improve mood and aid in depression.
  9. Improved weight loss through reduced balanced microbiome and reduced sugar cravings.
  10. Manage GI disorders – many disorders of the GI tract could be due to an imbalance in the microbiome. Probiotic rich food can help balance the microbiome and bring stability to the GI tract.

10 awesome probiotic rich foods

Now that we know why to eat them, we need to know which foods are best. While you can buy some at the store, it’s always best to make your own, which is easy and inexpensive. I’ll be posting a greek yogurt recipe this Thursday on my KITCHEN BLOG. Also look for a DIY Sauerkraut recipe there next week.

  1. Kefir – This can be either water/coconut water kefir or dairy kefir. Water kefir is a bubbly drink that is often flavored with small amounts of fruit juice. Dairy kefir is simlar to yogurt but with a buttermilk texture. I favor this over yogurt due to the diversity of the microbes in the kefir, which can be anywhere from 10 strains to more than 30. Yogurt typically has only a few.
  2. Sauerkraut – As most of you know, this is fermented cabbage. I highly recommend making your own. Store bought sauerkraut is often pasteurized and contains no microbes. Proper sauerkraut is high in vitamin C, as well as digestive enzymes.
  3. Kombucha – This is a fermented and effervescent black tea. It helps support energy, digestion and liver detoxification.
  4. Yogurt – Most of you will buy this in the store. If you do, I recommend organic yogurt. Make sure the package says “active cultures”
  5. Kvass – I must admit, this one is unfamiliar to me. “Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage having a similar taste to beer. Much like kombucha because of its fermentation process and probiotic benefits, it is commonly made from stale, sourdough rye bread.”
  6. Apple cider vinegar – We’re talking about the raw-unrefined apple cider vinegar, which will often say “with the mother” on the label. ACV is known to help reduce cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and weight loss.
  7. fermented pickles and veggies – Once again, we are talking about proper fermented pickles, not the canned, vinegar pickles in the store. Fermented veggies are packed with healthy probiotics
  8. Traditional buttermilk – or cultured buttermilk. Once again, if you buy buttermilk in the store and it says “cultured buttermilk”, make sure it says “active cultures” on the label.
  9. Miso – Miso is “created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji. Koji is a fungus, and the fermentation process takes anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete.” Some of the world’s centenarians eat fermented soy and miso!
  10. Brine-cured olives – Once again, olives are eaten throughout the Mediterranean, home of some of the world’s oldest people! Make sure to choose organic olives from a small company.

Closing thoughts

As I venture into the world of food fermenting, I have discovered how easy and inexpensive it is to make some of the world’s healthiest foods. Remember, food fermenting has been around for 1000’s of years as a way of food preservation. Take time to experiment and find the foods you like best. Your little buggy friends will thank you, and so will your body!

Nutrition 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Anti-Aging Okinawa Diet

This week, I’ve been discussing longevity and places around the world with the most centenarians (100 year olds). Okinawa, Japan is one of those places, as discovered by bluezones.com. Just how much healthier were the people of Okinawa than those of use here in the good old USA?

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17986602

As you can see in the chart above, made with data from 1995, the people of Okinawa were much healthier than individuals here in the USA or even their counterparts in mainland Japan. If you’ll notice I did say “were” healthier. Sadly, as our western culture has infiltrated this beautiful island, the younger generations have forgotten the ancient and healthy food culture of the Okinawan people. But just what is that culture and it’s benefits beyond that of longevity?

What is the Okinawa Diet?

The Okinawan Diet is an ancient way of eating for the people of Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is located in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

The life expectancy in Japan is 84 versus the USA life expectancy of 78.8. With that said, Okinawa has more than 5 times as many centenarians as the rest of Japan. So, what is the secret? What is so different about the Okinawan way of life? How do Okinawans differ from the rest of Japan or the world for that matter? It all boils down to the Okinawan diet and lifestyle.

The Okinawa Diet: Living to 100

Nutritionfacts.org

What do Okinawans eat?

The Okinawa Diet is a whole food, plant based diet, rich in leafy greens, as well as yellow and orange vegetables. While they do eat rice, their main source of starch is purple sweet potatoes. They eat only small amounts of meat, mainly pork, and dairy. Legumes and soy are also emphasized in this anti-aging diet. The Okinawa diet contains relatively little processed food.

Health Benefits of the Okinawa Diet

  • Large amounts of anti-oxidants
  • naturally calorie restricted
  • low fat and low sugar
  • improved immunity
  • ant-aging
  • improved brain health – not only are Okinawan people among the longest living, they also have some of the lowest rates of dementia in the world!
  • lowers risk of heart disease
  • lowers risk of cancer
  • improved bone health

How you can eat the Okinawa Way

  • Practice Hara Hachi Bu – this translates to “eat until you are eight parts out of ten full.” This is a practice from Confucius that reminds us to stop eating when we are 80% full
  • Eat mindfully – In the west, we scarf down our food as if we haven’t eaten in weeks. It’s not uncommon to gobble up our food on the run or while driving. This is opposite of the Okinawa philosophy. Take your time and think about what and how you are eating. Think about your “satiety ” or fullness level.
  • 1200 calories per day – I highly doubt the ancient Okinawa people actually counted calories. However, when you base your diet on plants, you will naturally eat fewer calories. The main concept here is our 2000 calorie diet here in the west is far too much. There is more and more research showing the longevity and anti-aging benefits of a calorie restricted diet. For more information on calorie restriction, see my article on the CRON DIET.
  • Eat the rainbow – Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, of all colors. The colors of plants is what gives them specific nutrients not found in other foods. The more varied your diet, the more colorful your diet, the healthier it is.
  • Start eating sweet potatoes – they don’t have to be purple. Okinawan people eat all colors of sweet potatoes. These tasty gems are filled with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin E and potassium.
  • Limited amounts of HIGH QUALITY protein – stay away from CAFO and mass produced forms of protein. Since you will be limiting the amount of protein, you’ll want to go for quality over quantity. Aim for wild caught seafood, grass fed beef, pastured chickens/eggs, and organic pork.
  • Limit grains and dairy – While the Okinawa diet does include dairy and limited amounts of rice, these foods are greatly limited. In fact, if not for the legumes, the Okinawa diet could be considered largely paleo in nature.

Closing thoughts

You don’t have to jump in with both feet, as we often try to do when changing our diet. Start gradually by implementing mindful eating. Add a few vegan meals to your week. Slowly begin to cut back on processed foods. You don’t have to go from eating the Standard American Diet 100% of the time to eating the Okinawa diet 100% of the time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Use the 85/15 rule. Gradually work up to eating the Okinawa diet 85% of the, and allow yourself some fun foods 15% of the time.

Until next time, Namaste my friends.

Tamara

Sources

  1. https://draxe.com/nutrition/okinawa-diet/
  2. https://nutrineat.com/health-benefits-of-okinawa-diet
  3. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/okinawa-diet.html
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/sweet-potatoes#vitamins-and-minerals

Nutrition 101: The Upside Down Pyramid

Presently, a full two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.” Do these statistics surprise you? This quote is from a wonderful article written by Dr. Joseph Mercola.  In it, Dr. Mercola discusses the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) which is filled with highly processed and refined “food”, and  how these foods are making us fat. He also discusses the  faulty science behind the USDA’s food guide pyramid, which was replaced with My Plate in 2011.

Comparing the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The USDA food guide pyramid (pictured above) encourages individuals to eat between 6 to 11 servings of breads and cereal per day.  Most carbohydrates, whether complex or simple, are essentially chains of sugar, bonded together. When these chains are digested, the body breaks them down into individual molecules of sugar. So, basically, your body doesn’t know the difference between a can of soda and a piece of whole wheat bread.

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The only difference between the soda and the bread, is the length of time it takes for those sugars to be processed by the body.  Because the bread contains fiber, the process of breaking down the molecules of sugar takes longer. But, in the end, the bread will break down into the same sugar molecules that are contained in the soda. For more information on just how carbohydrates are processed, see this article from New Health Advisor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not demonizing all carbohydrates by any means. Carbohydrates are ESSENTIAL to any healthy diet.

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While My Plate (pictured above), has slightly lowered the amount of grains, it eliminated fat from the picture. Fat is very important for our body. Deficiency in essential fats can cause serious health problems. For more information on the importance of fat in the diet, check out this in depth look at fat at the Weston A Price Foundation.

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So, just how do we eat healthy, if the food guides provided by the government are faulty? It’s not rocket science, in fact, the secret to eating healthy is fairly simple. Are you ready? Just eat REAL FOOD. You’re probably saying “Well if I’m not eating real food everyday, what am I eating?” When I say “real food”, I mean whole food,  not the packaged, refined and chemically laden food most of us eat every day. At my house we call refined food “food like substances.” They look, smell and taste like food, but they’re  not.

Whole vs Processed vs Refined:

Why Whole Foods are The Best Foods - Natural Health

What is a “whole food”?

Whole food is defined as food, as close to its natural state as possible, which is supportive of health, and does not contribute to disease . Whole food is generally intact, and sold with little or no packaging. This is food the way mother nature intended it, such as apples, broccoli, beef, chicken, fish, or eggs. Whole food does not necessarily need to be a whole plant, but part of a plant, such as rice, nuts, seeds or legumes. Since these foods are picked directly from the plant, in the natural state, the essential nutrients remain intact.

What is a “processed food”?

These foods, which start as whole foods, are altered through cooking, refining or juicing. For example, a potato would become processed as it is cooked and mashed prior to eating. Other examples include grinding wheat berries into whole wheat flour or cooking brown rice to make it edible.

If it came from a plant… EAT IT!!!! | KarmaFree Cooking

What is a “refined food”?

A refined food is a barely recognizable, minimized version of a whole food. These foods have been chemically, or mechanically processed, resulting in the elimination of some or all essential nutrients . Typically, additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers have been added to increase shelf life . Some examples include lunch meat, potato chips and bleached white flour.

#MondaMantra If your food can go bad, it’s Good for you ...

Whole foods are nature’s foods. Whole foods are the animals and eggs fresh from the farm, or fruit plucked from the tree or vegetables pulled from the earth. You can walk into a wheat field and pick handfuls of wheat berries, but, you can’t walk into a wheat field and pick a bag of flour or loaf of bread. That is the difference between whole foods, processed foods and refined foods.

Health Benefits of Whole foods

Phytonutrients and antioxidants: Whole fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients or plant nutrients. These nutrients, which give plants their bright color, contain antioxidants, helping to reduce inflammation, sugar cravings and fight chronic, degenerative diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

More good-fat: Whole foods, such as fish, grass-fed beef and plants increase the amounts of healthy omega-3 fats in the diet .

Lots of fiber: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain lots of fiber. While fiber cleans the digestive tract, feeds our good bacteria and keeps us full, it also helps lower risk of disease such as stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease and obesity.

Nutrient-dense: Whole foods are very nutrient-dense. This means they are low in calories, but very high in essential nutrients, so you get more “bang for your buck”

Reasons to Avoid Refined Foods

Refined flour, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup: Refined sweeteners and carbohydrates are empty calories, and considered “negative nutrients.”  This means the body needs to use its own reserves of essential nutrients to digest the food. These sweeteners also cause chronic diseases such as, fatty liver disease, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Artificial ingredients: These ingredients are chemicals and not actually food, such as coloring, preservatives, flavor enhancers and texture agents . Studies show that these chemicals can lead to cancer, allergies, hyperactivity, brain disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease

Trans fats and processed oil: Refined foods are high in “bad fats” such as trans fats and processed vegetable oils, including soy, and corn oil. These fats can cause inflammation in the body, leading to many different chronic diseases, as well as heart disease.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s): Refined food contains GMO’s, which are genetically engineered to either resist pests or herbicides. Studies show these foods lead to tumors, allergies, liver and kidney damage, or organ failure.

The upside down pyramid:

Now that you know the difference between whole, processed and refined food, you may be wondering what type of whole foods you should eat and how much. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words as they say. Dr. Mercola has developed a pyramid as a guide for how to eat healthy. The base of the pyramid is healthy fat and vegetables. The next level of the pyramid is healthy, organic, grass-fed or free-range protein. The next layer is fruit, which should be eaten in moderation due to the sugar content. And, finally, the tip of the pyramid is grains, cereals and pasta.

mercola-food-pyramid-v2

Whole food alternatives to popular refined food:

The following chart is from website Weed em and Reap. It contains healthy, whole food alternatives to standard American food.

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Cooking whole food can be easy:

Now, you may be thinking that whole foods aren’t very convenient and take a long time to cook.  As I showed in my blog: “5 whole food breakfasts in 5 minutes or less”, it can be very easy.

Check out this recipe from Primavera Kitchen. It’s a simple and delicious whole food dinner. The Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Chicken Skillet can be prepared in under 30 minutes.  ENJOY!

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Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Chicken Skillet

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

fiber-3

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

let-us-stop-for-a-moment-to-pray-and-meditate2

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)

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 11.07.24 AM.png
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:

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 12.25.14 PM.png

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: Understanding Trans Fats

At the beginning of August, I wrote the first in a series of articles on FAT. In that article, I explained that I was breaking this topic down into a series of six articles:

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

The first article covered the basics on Fat, including defining fat, fatty acids, and types of fat. The next topic I’d like to cover is “Fats to avoid”. I decided to break this topic down into two separate articles, because quite frankly, trans fatty acids needs an article on it’s own. So my six article series has become seven !

What are Trans Fats?

In my first article, I explained that fats are divided into groups based on the types of bonds. Here is a quote from that article:

“Fatty acids are broken down further into 2 other groups, based on the chemical bonds between the carbon atoms in the chain. These bonds can either be single or double bonds. These bonds affect the properties and characteristics of the fatty acid.:

  1. Saturated Fatty Acid – 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.
  2. Unsaturated Fatty Acid – UFA – have one or more double bonds. The existence of double bonds, makes the UFA’s flexible or bendable. It also means there are fewer hydrogen atoms, so the UFA are not surrounded or saturated by hydrogen, therefore, they are UNSATURATED. The flexibility of these acids make them highly unorganized, preventing them from coming together, making them liquid in most cases.
    • MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acid – MUFA – have one double bond
    • PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acid – PUFA – have two or more double bonds.

This information is important for understanding trans fats. All fats, are made of mainly hydrogen and carbon, with oxygen molecules at the end. The double bonds in NATURAL UFA’s contain hydrogen molecules on the same side of a double bond. This allows the fatty acid to be flexible and, therefore, liquid at room temperature:

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.01.38 AM.png
SOURCE: (1)

HOWEVER, a trans fatty acid is CHEMICALLY ALTERED, so that the two hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides of the double bond:

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SOURCE: (1)

This makes the trans fatty acid straight and rigid and SOLID at room temperature, similar to saturated fatty acids:

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.06.21 AM.png
SOURCE: (1)

 

How are Trans Fats made?

While some trans fats occur naturally, in animal products, the VAST majority of trans fats are commercially produced, by chemically turning PUFA’s from their natural liquid state, into a solid (AKA: margarine/shortening).

Here’s the process (2):

  1. It begins with cheap oils, such as soy, corn, canola or cottonseed-which have become rancid from processing (and genetically modified)
  2. Mixed with tiny metals such as nickel oxide, which acts as a catalyst for the next step.
  3. The oil mixture is  exposed to hydrogen gas in a high pressure/temperature reactor
  4. Emulsifiers and starch, similar to soap are added to the mix to improve consistency.
  5. Steam cleaned at high temperature, removing the unpleasant odor.
  6. Bleached to remove the “unappetizing gray” color
  7. Dyed to make it resemble butter
  8. Compressed into blocks or tubs.

This process creates

partially-hydrogenated oil,

which are trans fatty acids.

Why you need to avoid Trans Fats…

You mean, aside from the fact that they are HIGHLY PROCESSED fats, made from chemicals and rancid, genetically modified oil?

Here are some other reasons, in case that’s not enough..

  1. Trans fats are toxic to your body. Unfortunately, your body recognizes them as regular fatty acids and makes them part of your cell wall. This causes tremendous problems, because the hydrogen molecules are in the wrong place. Cell metabolism can only occur when all of the electrons are in the proper arrangement. (2)
  2. Increased risk for cancer (2)
  3. Increased risk for many serious diseases including: (2)
    1. Heart disease
    2. Diabetes
    3. Obesity
    4. Immune system dysfunction
    5. low birth weight babies
    6. birth defects
    7. impaired vision
    8. sterility
    9. bone/tendon problems

If Trans Fats are bad, then saturated fats must be bad too, right? WRONG!

We will be covering saturated fats in a future article in this series, but, suffice it to say, they have been unfairly vilified. To compare trans fats to saturated fats is like comparing apples to oranges. There is no comparison.  Let me ask you this…Would you eat an apple, that had been chemically altered to look and taste like an orange, or would you just eat the real orange?

EVERY cell membrane in your body is made up of 50% saturated fat. (3)  Saturated fats, in the proper amounts, have many benefits, including (3):

  • Enhanced immune system function
  • Improved bone health
  • Needed for the body to properly utilize certain Omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • Anti-microbial properties
  • Preferred food for the heart! (YES, does that surprise you?) The heart draws on the saturated fat around the heart for energy during times of stress

On the other hand, as stated above, trans fats are TOXIC, serve no purpose, and reek havoc on our bodies.

But, Trans Fats were outlawed and are no longer used…right? Um…Not exactly

In 2015, the Obama administration and the FDA issued a ban on PARTIALLY-HYDROGENATED OIL, giving the food industry 3 years to “phase them out”, so they are still a part of the food system. (4) Partially-hydrogenated oils have been banned, NOT fully hydrogenated oil. If you fully hydrogenate an oil, you COMPLETELY turn it into a saturated fat. In other words, you add the missing hydrogen molecules, and remove the double bonds. (6)

Hydrogenation.jpg

So, fully-hydrogenated oils are seen as “safer” because they do not technically contain trans-fats, however, keep in mind the HIGHLY PROCESSED nature of these fats, in combination with the rancid, genetically modified oil.  Skip these chemically manufactured saturated fats, and eat the REAL thing!

The loop hole

So, you go to the store and pick up a pre-packaged dinner which says “ZERO TRANS FATS” on the label. Do you trust the label and does zero really mean zero?

NO! According to the FDA guidelines:

A product LABELED ZERO can contain up to .5 gram of trans fat per serving. 

ALWAYS read the ingredient label! ALWAYS! If there is ANY partially-hydrogenated oil in the ingredients, the product absolutely contains trans fats, even if it says “ZERO TRANS FAT” on the label (4)

Foods to avoid:

I go to my standard advice… eat a WHOLE FOOD DIET, and stay away from processed food. Here’s a chart showing the products highest in trans fats.

71b50bfc1cc5f9ff725b970149ca5c7d--trans-fat-foods-trans-fats

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. McGuire, Michelle; Beerman, Kathy A.. Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food (Page 223). Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.
  2. https://draxe.com/the-truth-about-saturated-fat/
  3. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/know-your-fats/the-skinny-on-fats/#benefits
  4. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102351941
  5. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/obama-bans-trans-fat-119050
  6. https://www.thespruce.com/do-hydrogenated-oils-contain-trans-fats-2246050

 

 

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Fat-The Basics

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.

The subject of fat is a complex subject. (Sorry, this too will have a bit of science, but, it’s necessary to explain them. 🙂 ) So, over the next couple of months, we will be talking about the different aspects of fat. I have broken this topic down into a series of six articles:

  1. Fat-the basics
  2. Saturated fat
  3. Unsaturated fat
  4. Omega fat
  5. Fats to avoid
  6. Cholesterol

What is fat?

Fats and oils fall into a class of nutrient known as “lipids”. By definition, lipids are:

relatively water-insoluble, organic molecules consisting mostly of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. In other words, lipids are hydrophobic (“water fearing”).

Lipids are typically one of the following

  • Oils – These substances are liquid at room temperature – such as olive oil.
  • Fats – These substances are solid at room temperature – like butter.

The major categories of lipids include:

  • fatty acids – we will be focusing on these types of lipids
  • triglycerides
  • phospholipids
  • sterols
  • fat soluble vitamins – these vitamins will be discussed later on in the series.

Fatty acids

Fatty acids are the most common type of lipid, and found all over your body and in the foods you eat. There are quite literally hundreds of different types of fatty acids, which are normally bound to cholesterol and not found in a “free” form. (1)

Fatty acids are made up of chains of carbon atoms, which comprise the “backbone” of the fatty acid. The length of the chain determines the type, properties and function of the fatty acid.  There are 3 chain “lengths” of fatty acids:

  1. Short chain fatty acids– are made up of less than 8 carbon atoms. These fatty acids have a low melting point and will typically be oils or maybe even gases.  These types are formed in the intestine by friendly bacteria, then absorbed through the intestines. (2)
  2. Medium chain fatty acids – contain between 8 and 12 carbon atoms. An example of this type is coconut oil, which is solid to 76 degrees, then melts.  Medium chain acids are sent straight to the liver and used for energy. (2)
  3. Long chain fatty acids – are comprised of more than 12 carbon atoms. These fatty acids have a high melting point and will normally be solid at room temperature. These types are turned into triglycerides and either used for energy or stored. (2)

 

Saturated vs Unsaturated Fatty Acids (1)

Fatty acids are broken down further into 2 other groups, based on the chemical bonds between the carbon atoms in the chain. These bonds can either be single or double bonds. These bonds affect the properties and characteristics of the fatty acid.:

  1. Saturated Fatty Acid – 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.
  2. Unsaturated Fatty Acid – UFA – have one or more double bonds. The existence of double bonds, makes the UFA’s flexible or bendable. It also means there are fewer hydrogen atoms, so the UFA are not surrounded or saturated by hydrogen, therefore, they are UNSATURATED. The flexibility of these acids make them highly unorganized, preventing them from coming together, making them liquid in most cases.
    • MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acid – MUFA – have one double bond
    • PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acid – PUFA – have two or more double bonds.

Well, I think that’s enough science for one day. In the next issue we will be getting into these fats in more detail, what they do for your body, as well as healthy, whole food sources of each one. In edition, we will talk about which fats are ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFA), and explaining TRANS FATTY ACIDS.

I’m happy to see the current trend of people embracing fat. But I also see a dangerous trend, in people demonizing carbs, in much the same way that fat was once demonized. People need to understand that the human body needs all 3 of the macronutrients, protein, carbs and fat. You can’t take one of them out completely, and expect to remain healthy. Eating has to be about more than just losing weight. In my experience, if you focus on health, not weight, the pounds will come off when health improves.

let-us-stop-for-a-moment-to-pray-and-meditate4.png

Sources:

  1. McGuire, Michelle; Beerman, Kathy A.. Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food. Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.
  2. https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/ppt/Coconut_Oil.pptx

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Protein

Now, I know this is coming out VERY late today, but remember, from my food journal earlier today, I’m playing catch up this week, from my time off, changing my schedule and all that. In fact, that food journal should have been posted yesterday! Ugh! 😩 Well, it’ll all work out in the end, right? 👍

Can you believe we FINALLY finished up with carbohydrates? I wrote the very first carbohydrate post on February 12, 2017, just a short 6 months ago. Yikes! Well, now it’s time to move on to the next macronutrient, PROTEIN!

What is protein?

By definition, protein, also known as peptide, is: “a nitrogen-containing macronutrient made from amino acids. ” (1)

We know from my first carbohydrate article, that carbs are made up of smaller units known as monosaccharides. Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids.

What is an amino acid?

An amino acid, by definition is:  “A nutrient composed of a central carbon bonded to an amino group, carboxylic acid group, and a side-chain group (R-group).” (1)

If that sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook, don’t worry. It’s not important for you to remember that. What you need to remember is that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. It’s these small particles that differentiate one protein from another. Different proteins contain different types of amino acids.

Types of amino acids (1)

The body needs 20 unique amino acids to make the required bodily proteins and function properly. These 20 amino acids are broken down into 3 groups, essential and non-essential and conditionally essential.

There are 9 amino acids that are considered ESSENTIAL. This means they must be acquired from food, because the body cannot make them.

These 9 are as follows:

  1. histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. leucine
  4. lysine
  5. methionine
  6. phenylalanine
  7. threonine
  8. tryptophan
  9. valine

The remaining 11 amino acids are considered non-essential because the body can produce them. However, under certain circumstances, such as genetics or disease, the body is unable to produce certain amino acids. In these cases, those amino acids become “conditionally essential”, meaning they must be consumed.

There are 6 conditionally essential amino acids:

  1. arginine
  2. cysteine
  3. glutamine
  4. glycine
  5. proline
  6. tyrosine

There are 5 non-essential amino acids:

  1. alanine
  2. asparagine
  3. aspartic acid
  4. glutamic acid
  5. serine

Complete protein vs incomplete protein (1)

Proteins are broken down into 2 groups based on the content of amino acids. A protein is considered COMPLETE if it contains proper amounts of all 9 essential amino acids. On the other hand, if a protein contains low amounts of one or more amino acids, it is considered INCOMPLETE.

Generally, animal proteins are considered COMPLETE, and also called HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN, where as plant proteins are considered INCOMPLETE and called LOW QUALITY PROTEIN. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Which we will discuss in a minute.

Complimentary Proteins (1)

Anyone who doesn’t consume animal protein can combine incomplete proteins together to make a complete protein. This practice is known as protein complementation, and is practiced all over the world. Essentially what this means is that certain plant foods “compliment” other plant foods.

Beans and rice is a common example of this practice. But why do they make a complete protein? This is because beans and other legumes lack proper amounts of methionine, but have lots of lysine. On the other hand, rice lacks lysine, but has lots of methionine. So, together, they combine to make a complete protein. It is indicated by many people in the vegan/vegetarian community that these foods do not need to be eaten at the same time. Eating a wide variety of plant foods high in protein is key. (6)

Here is a chart to give you a few examples of complimentary proteins:

slide_8.jpg
chart source: http://slideplayer.com/slide/8016541/

How much protein do you need? (2,3,4)

Obviously, this question varies from person to person. Some people need quite a bit, while others can get by on just a little. It really comes down to metabolism and how well your body digests and absorbs protein.

However, the current Institute of Medicine recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This comes out to approximately 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.  The current US government RDA for protein is 46 grams per day for women over 19 and 56 grams per day for men over 19.

This may sound like a lot, but compared to what most Americans eat, it’s relatively little. A 3 ounce serving of chicken breast contains approximately 25 grams of protein.

 

57968c66e114a2cad559e34fa719a3b4--protein-chart-meat.jpg
Chart source: http://www.readersdigest.com.au/

Sources of complete vegetable protein (5)

These 8 plant foods contain all 9 essential amino acids and are considered a complete protein.

  1. Quinoa – 8.14 grams per cup
  2. Amaranth – 9.35 grams per cup
  3. Soybeans – 22 grams per cup
  4. Buckwheat – 23 grams per cup
  5. Hempseed – 31.56 grams per 100 g
  6. Chia seeds – 16.54 grams per 100 g
  7. Blue-green algae – 4 grams per tablespoon
  8. Spirulina – 4 grams per tablespoon

That’s all I have for you tonight regarding proteins.

Let me know if you have any questions. 

God Bless!Namaste!

Sources

  1. McGuire, Michelle; Beerman, Kathy A.. Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food  Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.
  2. https://www.nutrition.gov/whats-food/carbohydrates-proteins-fats-fiber/proteins
  3. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2008/March/docs/01features_01.htm
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
  5. http://www.revmodo.com/organic-food/8-plant-foods-that-contain-complete-proteins-for-vegans/
  6. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/vegan-sources-of-protein/

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Complex Carbohydrates

In the past few articles in this series, we’ve discussed carbohydrates, covering the basics as well as simple sugars and the dangers of artificial sweeteners. In this edition of Ultimate Guide to Nutrients, we’ll cover complex carbohydrates: what they are and why you need them.

As a refresher, carbohydrates are broken down into simple and complex.

See the chart below for the break down.

carbohydrates-4

A few weeks ago, we covered the simple sugars: monosaccharides and disaccharides. Today, we will cover complex carbohydrates, which include oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

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.

Are carbohydrates bad?

Carbohydrates have become the new “bad guy” in the nutrition world. For decades, fat was the “bad guy”. Food companies quickly picked up on this trend, producing “low-fat” and “non-fat” products. What was the result of this removing fat from the daily diet? Here are some statistics. (1)

  • In the 1950’s, approximately 10% of the United States was classified as “obese”.
  • In 2012, the current obesity rate in the United States is 35%.
  • As a result of the “low-fat” or “no-fat” trend, the obesity rate has tripled in 6 decades.

What are the reasons for this weight problem? Well, entire books have been written about this very topic. Suffice it to say there are a few basic reasons: (1)

  • Restaurant portion sizes increased 23%
  • Increased screen time on televisions and computers
  • The main reason-sugar-added to everything. In order to add flavor to the low-fat/no-fat products, manufacturers added sugar to the products. As a result, you are hard pressed to find a pre-packaged food product with out added sugar.

You may be asking what these fat facts have to do with the current low carb trend. Well, after decades of eating a low fat/high carb diet, it has been discovered that fructose destroys the liver, causing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (AKA: non-alcohol cirrhosis). (2) This is because fructose serves no purpose and is not used anywhere in the body. As a result, it must be processed and filtered by the liver, which causes damage.

It has also been found that fructose contributes to the following conditions: (3)

  • elevates triglycerides
  • increases harmful LDL (so-called bad cholesterol)
  • promotes the buildup of fat around organs (visceral fat)
  • increases blood pressure
  • makes tissues insulin-resistant, a precursor to diabetes
  • increases the production of free radicals, energetic compounds that can damage DNA and cells.

So, as a society, we have decided not to just demonize simple sugars, but all carbohydrates. This has resulted in a complete flip from low-fat/high-carbohydrate to high-fat/low-carbohydrate diets, which can be just as dangerous, for different reasons.

While it is true that all carbohydrates inevitably breakdown to simple sugars within the body, at the end of the day, your body still needs carbohydrates. As long as you stay away from simple sugars and eat complex carbohydrates, from whole food sources, you will be fine.

So, what exactly do complex carbohydrates do for the body? (4)

  • The main source of energy-This is immediate energy-after filtering out the fiber, which is built in to complex carbohydrates. Eating complex carbs early in the day will provide energy to fuel your activity
  • Aid digestion– The fiber in the carbohydrates helps with digestion and keeps you “regular”. We’ll talk more about fiber in the next article, but, without carbs, it’s difficult to get enough fiber.
  • Boost metabolism– Because they provide energy, carbohydrates are important to improve metabolism.
  • Aid in sleep– Some complex carbs, such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes, contain large amounts of Trytophan, which relaxes the body and aids in sleep. Oatmeal also helps the body produce melatonin, which regulates sleep.
  • Filled with Fiber– Fiber regulates your digestion and keeps you full for extended periods of time. All whole food complex carbohydrates are great sources of fiber.
  • Improved nervous system– It’s why we call it “comfort food”! Complex carbohydrates help the body to relax and feel less nervous. These complex carbs help the body produce enzymes which bring balance to the body.
  • Optimal brain function–  Your brain needs carbs. Complex carbs can aid in mental focus, as well as relieve problems such as depression, and brain fog.

How many carbohydrates should you eat?

Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it. Remember-I advocate biochemical individuality. Some people can get by with 50 or 75 grams per day, while others need significantly more. However, Dr. Catherine Shanahan, in her book Deep Nutrition recommends 100 grams per day, for anyone trying to lose weight. (6)

So is there such a thing as good carbs and bad carbs….ABSOLUTELY YES! Stay away from processed forms of carbohydrates. Eat whole food, complex carbohydrates.

The ten best sources of complex carbohydrates: (5)

  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Quinoa
  3. Lentils/legumes
  4. Squash
  5. whole fruit
  6. Ancient grains-such as millet, amaranth and buckwheat
  7. Oats
  8. Rice-Yes, brown rice, but venture out into the realm of other colors such as red and the SUPER HEALTHY black rice (forbidden rice)
  9. Leafy greens-the darker the better
  10. Colorful veggies such as beets, peppers and eggplant

Take a look at the charts below:

e19fb54eea3e9824966a71f1b4811f15good-vs-bad-carbs

So, don’t be afraid of carbs. Just eat the right kind, in the right amounts. What is dangerous and counter productive is extreme dieting, on either end of the scale. Experiment with macronutrient percentages and find out what’s good for you.  Remember, there isn’t one right diet for all humans, but there is one right diet for you. You just need to find it.

Bio-individuality recognizes that there is no one size fits all diet. Each person is a unique individual, with highly individualized nutritional requirements, based on factors including personal tastes, natural shape.png

SOURCES:

  1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/384722-how-much-have-obesity-rates-risen-since-1950/
  2. http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-toxic-truth/#.WRsQi1PyuRs
  3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/abundance-of-fructose-not-good-for-the-liver-heart
  4. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/benefits-of-complex-carbs-and-the-best-ones-to-eat/
  5. http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1495/Ten_Best_Complex_Carbs_For_Optimal_Body_Compositio.aspx
  6. Shanahan, C. and L. Shanahan. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food