Health Tip #37

health-tip-37

Chronic Inflammation is a precursor to degenerative diseases and to us meeting an earlier end.  Chronic inflammation can often be silent, or go unnoticed until symptoms of degenerative disease begin to show themselves.  The best way to offset this tendency toward degeneration is to add in anti-inflammatory foods.  As it turns out, anti-inflammatory foods are the real, whole foods we have been discussing thus far.

Vegetables and Fruits

As we have discussed before, brightly colored fruits and vegetables should cover the majority of your plate at any meal.  We should try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.  Some of the best anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables include berries like blueberries, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale).  When considering brightly colored produce, don’t forget about the anti-inflammatory herbs we discussed in the last post such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon.  Fermented vegetables such as kimchee, pickles and sauerkraut should also be considered.  Shiitake mushrooms are also an anti-inflammatory addition as they help to mitigate oxidative stress.

Grains and Legumes

If including grains and legumes in the diet, make sure they are whole, soaked or fermented and properly prepared for proper digestion.  Flour based, processed grains should be avoided.  As we’ve discussed in a previous posts, rather or not gluten is included in the diet should be carefully considered.  If it is included, proper preparation is crucial.  Organic, fermented soybean products such as natto, miso and tempeh can also be added.

Fats

Adding in healthy fats (coconut, avocados, raw nuts, olives, coconut oil, and cold-pressed olive oil) and the elimination of bad fats (highly processed vegetable oils like canola oil, soybean oil, margarine and hydrogenated oils/trans fats) is crucial in the anti-inflammatory diet.

Omega 3 foods such as  cold water, fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies and herrings should also be included in an anti-inflammatory diet.

Protein

In general, in our western diets, we tend to eat too much animal protein. A vegetable based diet is best and a little good quality animal protein goes a long way.   If you can, choose wild local seafood, local grass-fed meats and dairy products.

Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Other anti-inflammatory foods to consider in your diet are green tea, tulsi tea, matcha and dark chocolate for their antioxidant content.

Avoid Processed Foods and Sugar

One of the most important things to remember when eating an anti-inflammatory diet is to avoid processed foods, especially those containing processed sugars and bad fats.  Regular consumption of flour based foods and refined sugars should be avoided as insulin resistance leads to chronic inflammation and degenerative disease.

 

 

 

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Health Tip #33

health-tip-33

Only crazy people buy organic, right?

When I first saw a person filling their cart with overpriced, organic produce at the health food store, I thought they were crazy.  Years later, that crazy person and I became friends and I became the crazy person filling my cart with organic produce.  So what changed in my understanding between then and now that made me want to spend my hard earned money on organics?

Reasons to choose organic

Why, when studies have shown that organic and conventional foods have similar levels of of nutrients, would I be willing to dish out the extra dough?  The reasons are many.  Below is a brief look at some of the reasons to choose organic over conventionally produced foods:

  • studies have shown that organic produce contains considerably more antioxidants
  • organically grown foods better maintain the integrity of the soil and the diversity of microorganisms.  These microorganism maintain the soils healthy ecosystem and make nutrients in the soil bio-available to the plants, making healthy more diseases resistant plants.  The plants then pass the nutrients on to us when we eat them.  Conventional practices destroy this ecosystem.
  • Pesticides are used in the production of conventional fruit, vegetables, wheat, corn, grain products and livestock feed.
  • Pesticides bio-accumulate up the food chain in animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish.
  • Pesticides have toxic effects on the body linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues and damage to unborn children.
  • Pesticides are antibiotic in nature and disrupt our gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and physical and mental ailments.
  • Conventional agricultural practices can cause toxic run off from fields, contaminating  water ways and wildlife.
  • According to the Environmental Working Group, conventional produce most heavily laden with pesticides include: strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, celery, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.  But it is the potato that boasts most pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • Illegal pesticide residues are three times as likely to be found in imported produce.  Notice where your produce is coming from.

Do we always need to choose organic?

Other options are available to us other than just having to buy everything certified organic.  Some of these options include:

  • harvest wild edibles
  • grow your own garden
  • buy from a local farmers’ market where produce may not be officially organic but comes from a local “pesticide free” or “no spray” farm.
  • wash all your produce thoroughly in a sink of water and hydrogen peroxide to pull pesticides and pathogens off the surface.  (Note this is only a surface treatment.)
  • Peel produce to reduce surface contamination (although much of a fruit or vegetables nutrients and antioxidants are in the peel).
  • Vary your intake of different produce and sources.
  • When buying conventionally produced fruits an vegetables, stick to the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen including: avocados, [non-GMO] sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, [non-GMO papayas], kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. Of these, avocados were the cleanest.

 

 

 

Health Tip #15

health-tip-15

I don’t necessarily mean you have to go raw vegan like I was a couple of years ago.  Just add a few more raw foods into your diet. Some experts say that at least half of your diet should be eaten raw.   Some favorite raw foods  you will already be quite familiar with include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh salads, fresh salsa, guacamole, raw nuts and seeds,  fresh juices, smoothies, kale chips and energy bites.  By increasing  the amount of raw foods in your diet you are increasing the amount of nutrients you get from these foods as many nutrients are destroyed by cooking.  Not only nutrients are destroyed by cooking but also vital enzymes that are needed for certain reactions in your body.  And finally by eating fresh raw foods you are getting the benefit of their bio-photons or energy units of light which are emitted by all living things. One theory holds that these bio-photons can be assimilated into our cells and the more bio-photons a cell has, the healthier the cell.

If you have a sweet tooth and you want to give raw foods a try, check out the gorgeous recipes by Victoria BC based chef, Heather Pace on her website Sweetly Raw.