Your Nerve Receptor Indexer

Potassium Guru: Bananas

I used to be a competitive swimmer and woke up with frequent rotten leg and toe cramps that resulted in lots of tossing and turning late into the evening.  My mom and coaches used to tell me to eat more bananas.

It’s true, Banana’s are full of potassium but how does potassium relieve cramps?  Muscle cramps are actually most often caused by dehydration which depletes the required level of potassium in the body.  Usually the source of dehydration is intense physical activity or drinking too much alcohol (come on, who hasn’t woken up with a hard-core Charlie Horse after a  night out on the town?).

Potassium is key in maintaining water balance within the cell, stabilizing blood pressure, keeps the heart pumping, aides in nerve transmission, and enables certain enzyme activity.

It’s good for you and both men and women should be consuming at least 4700 mg’s a day.  See below for a list of some fruits and vegetables high in potassium (amount in mg’s is listed in brackets).  Keep your legs happy and try eating a banana after an all night bender to relieve your next morning hangover.

One papaya (781).

One cup of prune juice (707).

One cup of cubed cantaloupe (494) or diced honeydew melon (461).

One small banana (467).

One-third cup of raisins (363).

One medium mango (323) or kiwi (252).

One small orange (237) or one-half cup of orange juice (236).

One medium pear (208)

One cup of tomato juice (535) or chopped or sliced tomato (400).

One baked sweet potato, with skin (508).

One-half of a medium avocado (450).

One-half of a medium potato, with skin (422).

One cup of fresh or cooked asparagus (288).

One-half cup of cooked pumpkin (282).

One-half cup of cooked mushrooms (277).

One-half cup of fresh Brussels sprouts (247).

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NuTIPtion: Fiber 911

Colon Rescue 911

William Shatner brought fiber to the forefront with his recent All Bran Challenge campaign that touts the fact that this little miracle grain can make you feel like a million bucks.  Most people know that fiber makes your “number 2” its number one priority, but little is known about how it works.  Let’s get started!

Unlike most food that is broken down into extremely small molecules that are then absorbed by the intestinal wall, fiber is not able be digested by the body regardless of whether it is soluble or insoluble.  Insoluble fiber helps moved broken down food through the intestines and aides in digestion by controlling and balancing the pH of both the large and small intestine.  It’s important to consume insoluble fiber because it helps alleviate constipation, moves waste and toxins in a timely manner, and helps prevent colon cancer because of its pH balancing properties.

On the flip side, soluble fiber requires water to help it move through the system and actually forms a gel like substance when mixed with H2O.  It functions by binding with fatty acids and slows the time the stomach takes to empty into the large intestines – meaning, it helps you feel full for a longer period of time.  Ensuring that you are consuming a healthy amount of soluble fiber will positively impact your health by lowering unhealthy levels of cholesterol (LDL) which in turn prevents heart disease.  Soluble fiber is also great for diabetics who need to stabilize blood-glucose levels (this is achieved by the longer than average time the stomach takes to empty contents into the large intestine).

The picture below summarizes the many health benefits of fiber:

Fiber is your Bowel Buddy

 
So, where can you find both soluble and insoluble fiber?  Here are some common dietary sources:
 
Insoluble: dark leafy vegetables, fruit skins, root vegetables, whole wheat, wheat bran, corn, nuts, and seeds.
 
Soluble: oats, oat bran, beans, peas, nuts, barley, flax seeds (make sure they are milled and not whole), apples, oranges, carrots, and psyllium.
 
Though you will want to eventually want to eat at least 30 grams/day, start small if you don’t currently consume a lot of fiber or there may be some undesired “outcomes” if you know what I mean. 
 

Let's finish with some Far Side!