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Posted by on Jan 30, 2018 in Dairy, Foodie Facts, Gluten, Health Awareness, Sugar, Toxic Foods | 0 comments

Are Processed Foods Toxic?

Are Processed Foods Toxic?

The sharp increase of sugar in the American diet over the last few decades is a result of our dependence on processed foods. Sugar is found in so many hidden forms, and especially in overly-processed foods. It not only comes as white, brown, or powdered sugar, but as high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, honey, molasses, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, and all kinds of syrups. The next time you’re at the grocery store take a look at all the “maple syrups.”  You’ll likely find only one or two brands that are actually pure maple syrup. The rest will have added ingredients such as corn syrup or maple “flavorings” that are high in caloric content and low in nutrients.

High fructose corn syrup

Perhaps one of the most harmful types of sugar is high fructose corn syrup. Not so long ago, most of our sugar came from sugar cane or sugar beets. These sources of sugars provided excellent sources of the B vitamins, magnesium, and chromium, but when processed, all these nutrients are removed.  In the last 30 years, high fructose corn syrup has become a very popular substitute for sugar by manufacturers because it lengthens shelf life, is less expensive, and is very sweet. It’s also currently being blamed for the alarming rise of obesity in America. Start scanning labels and you’ll find corn syrup in sodas, protein bars, cakes, cookies, syrups, luncheon meats, condiments, and salad dressings.

Grains:  unrefined and refined

Before processed foods, people ate grains in their whole state or, in other words, the grain was unrefined. Unrefined grains are heavy in texture and still contain the bran and germ. Therefore, they are higher in fiber, contain more vitamins and minerals, and keep your stomach “fuller” which decreases your appetite. Today we now eat those same foods, but they are overly-processed or have been refined by machinery. The refining process strips grains of essential nutrients, especially the B vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fiber. The B vitamins are necessary for carbohydrate metabolism and, if missing, the conversion of carbohydrate to energy is blocked. Most refined carbohydrates are digested quicker, raise the blood sugar, and leave you hungry.

White bread, white sugar, and white pasta are examples of refined grains. If it’s white, it’s probably not good for you. These products have all been stripped and are missing the vital nutrients.  My thought process is just avoid the grains.

Check the label

Processed foods are popular because they are quick and easy. But don’t be fooled, processed foods have a lot of extra ingredients like bad fats, sugars, food colorings, artificial flavorings, and preservatives. The next time you purchase ketchup, read the label.

Store bought salad dressing is a perfect example of a product that typically has many hidden ingredients that aren’t good for you.  Take a look at fat-free ranch dressing the next time you’re shopping. To prove that salad dressing can be simple and good, I’m including a healthy salad recipe with no processed ingredients.

 

 

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Posted by on Jan 25, 2018 in Featured Posts, Foodie Facts, Health Awareness, Toxic Foods | 0 comments

The Sugar Overdose

The Sugar Overdose

Our worst enemy is sugar.  For years we have been told to cut back, but as hard as we try, it’s still a major part of our daily diet, it’s addictive. The average American consumes 46 teaspoons of sugar a day.

What’s the problem of eating too much sugar?

Studies have shown that excess sugar consumption:

  • increases your risk for cancer, heart disease, and obesity,
  • depresses the immune system,
  • depletes your body of essential vitamins and minerals,
  • leads to diabetes or Metabolic Syndrome,
  • raises your lipids, especially triglycerides.

What’s a carbohydrate got to do with sugar?

Our body needs carbohydrates to live. This macronutrient provides energy for our brain, muscles, nervous system and all cells. During the process of digestion, carbohydrates from food break down to form glucose or blood sugar. When the body senses an over-abundance of blood sugar, it automatically produces insulin to balance the sugar. But this over-production of insulin stresses the body’s organs and leads to disease. That’s why it’s important to distinguish between good carbs and bad.

The good and the bad…

SIMPLE carbs are bad because they break down quickly into the blood stream causing blood sugar to spike. This stresses the liver, pancreas, kidneys, circulatory system and heart, all of which can lead to the health risks listed over the long term. Simple carbs include table sugar, jams, candy, jellies, processed foods, cakes, pies, and soft drinks. For the most part, simple carbs contain no valuable nutrients, just empty calories, so after you eat these foods, you feel lethargic, get hungry quicker, and gain weight.

COMPLEX carbs are good because they break down slower in the body, so there is not a quick spike in the blood sugar. Most complex carbs provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are found in vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, lentils) and seeds. Legumes are not included in my recipes because of their inflammatory response. Complex carbs provide a general stream of energy throughout the day, and are not converted to fat as easily as simple carbs.

The bottom line…all carbohydrates break down to blood sugar or glucose, whether it’s a piece of candy or a slice of whole grain bread. The slower this process happens in the body, the better.

Make New Choices

I know it is difficult to give up sugar because it has a tendency to be addictive, so take small steps to eliminate sugar where you can.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on Jan 18, 2018 in Featured Posts, Good Living, Health Awareness, Nourishing Foods | 0 comments

Fighting Breast Cancer with Nutrition

Fighting Breast Cancer with Nutrition

Women take heed: the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Your chance of developing breast cancer is 1 out of 233 in your twenties, but by age 85 the chances increase dramatically to 1 out of 8.  Research shows there are ways to improve these chances. Implementing healthy eating habits and understanding the consequences of not following good nutrition become even more important for women over 20.  Most experts on breast cancer recommend having a clinical breast exam and a mammogram regularly, but drinking less alcohol, addressing any weight issues, eliminating sugar, and eating a healthy diet are equally significant.

Sugar and Cancer

Much research shows that’s sugar’s relationship to higher insulins and related growth factors may influence cancer cell growth.  “A lot of patients are told it doesn’t matter what you eat after you are diagnosed with cancer. This preliminary animal research suggests that it does matter.” said Lorenzo Cohen of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer study who worked on the study. The findings of the study showed that at least two thirds of all cases of cancer come down to lifestyle choices-tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise.  They found that refined sugar is one of the culprits.  Particularly, fructose helps cells metastasize or spread. In this study, mice were fed four different diets either heavy in starch or heavy in different types of sugar. Results showed sucrose/fructose/glucose but not starch are associated with increased breast cancer. Tumors grew bigger and faster with diets higher in sugar. There are other reasons other than cancer to minimize sugar.  Sugar heavy diets  can fuel heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Drink less alcohol

Alcohol increases your risk for liver, esophageal, larynx, colon, and breast cancer. If you have a family history, your best bet is to avoid alcohol consumption.  The studies are clear that regular intake of alcohol is linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer in women.  Drinking alcohol is a controllable risk factor.  Too little folate in the body increases your cancer risk.

Daily dose of cruciferous vegetables

Every day eat one serving of the crunchy  cruciferous vegetables. Some examples are: kale, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and kohlrabi, all of which help build your immune system. I like to mix up my favorite salad or soup, and always include one of these.  But remember all vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, and show promise for reducing cancer risk.  Kale chips are a great snack, one of my favorites is Chipotle Kale Chips.

Extra weight …increases cancer risk

If you are overweight, lose weight.  Easily said, I know, but eat less of the sugary drinks, cakes, cookies, candy, and highly processed foods like chips and crackers because of the high calories. Diets high in fat, are loaded with calories and contribute to obesity, which increases the odds for cancer. In March 2008, a study done at University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center showed that obese and overweight women had lower breast cancer survival rates.

Cancer fighting tips

  • Add 200 mcg of Selenium or two Brazil nuts daily
  • Daily eat 1-2 tablespoons of golden ground flax seed, as the seeds are rich in lignans which have been shown to reduce tumor size
  • Exercise 30-40 minutes daily to lose weight
  • Avoid soy, because of the estrogenic effect on the body
  • Drink at least 8 cups water daily, water dilutes  the exposure to the cancer and limits the amount of time the body is exposed to the toxins
  • Avoid foods loaded with preservatives or artificial substances
  • Avoid sugar in all forms, and limit fruit intake

Taking care of your health is more important than ever.  By making the dietary and health changes you can reduce your risk of breast cancer.

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Posted by on Jan 13, 2018 in Nourishing Foods, Nutritional Tips & Tricks, Sugar | 0 comments

What To Drink

What To Drink

glass-of-waterWhy do we drink what we drink? Are we hooked by the manufacturer’s promise that the latest and greatest drink will help us perform or concentrate better? The fact of the matter is that manufacturers of sports drinks, juices, and energy drinks are trying to trick us into consuming their product. They try to make us believe that the ingredients they’re putting into their drinks are superior to normal water.

According to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine in August of 2004, it has been shown that a higher consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is associated with obesity, and an increased risk of Type II diabetes. These beverages have extra calories and large amounts of rapidly absorbable sugars. These sugar sweetened beverages include soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sports drinks.

It’s time to rethink your drink

Numerous sports beverages are available for kids. Which beverage should you buy? The one with vitamins, low calories, or how about electrolytes? There are so many choices, but in reality, they’re just sugar water.

Before you can make changes in what you drink, reading the label with accuracy is very important. Most of these beverages are far from being healthy. Many are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, believed to be one of the leading causes of the obesity epidemic.

Beverages 101

YOU must understand what you’re consuming.

  • Sugar Sources: You’d think it would be easy to identify the sugar sources.  But it’s not always that simple: fruit and juice concentrates, evaporated sucrose syrup, high fructose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated cane juice, fructose, sugar, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, sucrose, maltodextrin (glucose polymers) and glucose are all hidden sources. Let’s not forget the artificial sugar sources like sucralose and aspartame.
  • Oils: Many times oils such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, brominated vegetable oil, trans fat, and partially hydrogenated oils may be added to some of these drinks and are used as emulsifiers and stabilizers.
  • Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs: There is lots of misleading information when it comes to enhancing beverages with extra nutrients. Become familiar with the  nutrients found on the labels: Sodium citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Grape Seed Extract, Ginkgo Biloba, Nicoinamide (B3), Vitamin E Acetate, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Bicarbonate, D-Calcium Pantothenate (B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6), Vitamin A Palmitate, Cyancobalamin (B12), Folic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Lactate Gluconate, Okinawa deep sea minerals, Zinc Chelate,  Niacin, Manganese Gluconate, Magnesium Lactate Gluconate, Taurine, l-Carnitine, Inositol, and Glycine. These names are confusing and sound important, but ultimately the amounts of vitamins and minerals in these beverages are typically too low to matter much.
  • Additives and Artificial Ingredients: Many of these ingredients spell trouble.  Look for ingredients like glycerol esther of wood rosin, gum acacia, ester gum, xanthum gum, caramel color, pectin, gum Arabic, modified food starch, lemon balm extract, green tea extract, chamomile extract, food dyes, cochineal, titanium dioxide and numerous food dyes. A good rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce the word, question it. Some are flavoring agents, dyes, and stabilizers for the drinks.
  • Water: In the sugar sweetened beverages, water is always included unless the drink is 100% fruit juice. Waters may be listed as reverse osmosis, purified, deionized,  carbonated, and filtered.  In the end, this makes little difference in the final product.

Bottom Line… Read The Label!

Simple is better, less ingredients. Water is the preferred beverage. If you are going for a healthier, cheaper beverage and want flavor, add a couple pieces of organic fruit or fruit juice.  Add 1-2 T. fresh organic lemon juice to your water to help your body be more alkaline.

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Posted by on Jan 11, 2018 in Books, Cooking Techniques, Foodie Facts, Health Awareness, Nourishing Foods | 0 comments

Foods To Boost Your Eye Health

Foods To Boost Your Eye Health

Millions of people have some degree of vision problems, with cataracts being the leading cause of impaired vision and blindness.  A cataract will cloud or cause the crystalline lens of the eye to become opaque.  Macular degeneration, another eye disease equally affects people. This disease causes the macula, the part of the retina where images are focused to impair eye vision.

An eye healthy diet has been shown to lower the risk of both diseases. Deficiencies of antioxidants are implicated in the early stages of eye disease. Foods are loaded with antioxidants so let’s learn where you can get the most eye power.

More than just a carrot a day

While eating carrots is helpful, a more varied diet of vegetables will help protect against eye disease, as well as many other types of disease. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain high levels of phyto chemicals that help fight against cancer, protect the retina against oxidative damage, and boost the body’s immune system by helping the body to fight free radicals.

Cruciferous Vegetables…the biggest winners

  • Broccoli is loaded with beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthinbeta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Eat all parts of broccoli, flower and stalk included.
  • Broccoli Rabe is related to the turnip and has a bitter taste but sautéed and added to other vegetables or salad is a great way to add it to the diet.
  • Brussels Sprouts are part of the cabbage family. The nutritional benefits far outweigh the strong smell of sprouts.  Bake or broil them with a little olive oil and seasoning, enjoy.
  • Cabbage, red or green, a delicious vegetable can be eaten raw in coleslaws and salads or soups and meat dishes. It’s benefits fight free radicals, are anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, and help protect the eyes.
  • Collard Greens can be added to soups or eaten with butter and salt, are fast becoming acknowledged as being very important for eye health.  Very high in calcium, and fiber, it is loaded with.
  • Kale is a nutrition powerhouse and is actually a form of cabbage.  This super green leafy vegetable is a great addition to salads or soups.   Its powerful ingredients fight macular degeneration and reduce cataracts.
  • Kohlrabi is a low calorie vegetable, similar to a turnip, but is a member of the cabbage family.  Eat it raw or cooked and enjoy the benefits of high fiber, minerals, and vitamins that it offers.

Becoming more pro-active in improving your eye health begins with you. Daily, add one of these vegetables to your diet to improve your eye health along with salmon, red peppers, and oranges.

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