Is food giving you a migraine?

For those of us who have had migraines, we know it’s not just a really bad headache.

migraine-headache

It’s mind numbingly painful and can completely destroy your day or even week depending on how long lasts.  I first started getting migraines in elementary school – my mum often received calls from the office asking her to come pick me up.

migraine infographic

She tells me I described seeing “stars” before the headache set in and was able to piece together the visual problems, headaches, and nausea as a probable migraine.  Having a migraine isn’t really about the pain as much as it is a total disruption of life.  Often, during bouts of frequent migraines, I’m afraid to make plans and fear that one will strike me at work.  I remember worrying on my wedding day that I would get one…thankfully, I didn’t!

Migraine Aura:  partial loss of vision

Migraine Aura: partial loss of vision

The way a migraine starts is pretty interesting.  Something triggers our prostaglandins (a type of hormone) to initiate platelets to cluster together which in turn signals our body in increase the levels of serotonin in the blood stream.  This increase in serotonin then causes our blood vessels to constrict meaning less blood flows to the brain.  The decrease in blood to the brain creates a sort of acidic environment which then results in the vessels dilating which causes pain.  The aura I mentioned previously (vision problems) is caused by the changes in nerve cells and blood flow.  Aside from visual auras, other warnings that a migraine may be on the way include numbness, weakening, dizziness, vertigo, speech and hearing problems, and issues with memory.

mechnismmigraine

Migraines are a very complex neurological disorder with many contributing factors (genetics, environment, etc) but we do know that they are instigated by triggers such as:

  • skipping meals
  • stress
  • hormonal changes
  • caffeine or withdrawal from caffeine
  • over sleeping or not getting enough sleep
  • exercise
  • travel
  • weather changes
  • menstrual cycle
  • certain medications
  • constipation (see this post and this one as well for ways of reducing this problem)
  • food

The thing with migraines is that they can almost be a response to too many things going on at once.  If you’re tired, stressed, and the barometric pressure is low and then you eat food that is aggravating to your system, it can be that last thing to send you over the edge.

migraine

On my lifetime journey to healing myself or at least reducing the frequency of migraines I know that it’s crucial for me to eat regular meals, keep my stress levels under control, get enough sleep, an also to avoid food triggers.  Here are some common dietary contributors:

  • diary (especially cheese) – contains histamine
  • wheat
  • corn
  • soy
  • sugar
  • coffee
  • chocolate – contains histamine
  • citrus fruit
  • nuts
  • strawberries
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • shellfish
  • MSG
  • food colouring – contains histamine
  • Alcohol (red wine and beer especially which contains histamine)

When we eat something that we’re allergic to, our immune system releases histamines which trigger an inflammatory response (migraines!) so if you suffer from migraines it may help to take Vitamin C everyday since it helps breakdown histamine.  Other natural sources that help the body to break down histamine include Vitamin B and Quercetin.

Vit CVit B6Quercetin

Other natural remedies worth trying out include Magnesium (minimum of 300 mg/day) and Feverfew which comes from Feverfew leaves and is helpful as a preventative mechanism (50-100 mg/day).

For more information on migraines and nutrition, contact thehealthjunction@mail.com.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“A migraine is like a tornado.  It attacks fast, usually without warning, and wreaks havoc regardless of what’s going on in your life at that moment.”

–  Stephen Silverstein, M.D., Director of the Jefferson Headache Clinic in Philadelphia

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Get your probiotic on with DIY sauerkraut!

One of my favourite times of the week is visiting the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings with my friend Emily S.  It’s so fun, I can’t handle it!  We move from vendor to vendor picking up most of our weekly fresh produce and sampling the goodies on display.  This past week, I walked past the Pyramid Farm & Ferments table and sampled some dill and garlic sauerkraut.

Pyramid

Woah.  It was mind-blowing.  Delicious.

Mind Blowing

The only sauerkraut I had ever had up to this weekend was from a jar of Bicks and the taste doesn’t even come close to Pyramid Farms & Ferments.  Sauerkraut is made when shredded cabbage is massaged so that some of the juices come out of the shreds.  The shredded cabbage bits and the water that is pulled out via massaging is then stored in a container where it’s left to ferment.  The benefit of fermentation is that it makes nutrients more bioavailable.  Cabbage is high in Vitamin K, C, and Folate which become even more available to us once fermented.

Cabbage

Fermentation works when naturally occurring lactobacilli bacteria digest the sugar in cabbage which creates lactic acid.  The presence of the lactic acid makes the environment (ie: shredded cabbage sitting in a mason jar) too acidic so that it’s impossible for “bad” bacteria to overgrow and therefore the food doesn’t rot.  So you end up getting a lot of “good” lactobacilli bacteria without dealing with the pathogens that often result from spoiled food.

sauerkraut fermentation

What makes Pyramid Farms’ sauerkraut different is that not only is it fermented (like all store-bought versions) but it’s also unpasteurized which means that the lactobacilli bacteria, a strain of probiotic, are able to survive.  Having a gut that is populated with a healthy amount of probiotics  supports the health of our intestines and GI tract, improve digestion, and boosts the immune system.  Eating unpasteurized sauerkraut means that you’ll be getting a truckload of Vitamin C, K, Folate as well as a LOT of probiotics (30 x what you would get in a serving of yogurt!), fiber, and next to zero calories.

word_amazing

You can actually make sauerkraut at home, and yesterday, that’s exactly what Emily S and I did.  Check out this site by Fermentation Fanatic Mr. Sandor Katz and become a sauerkraut makin’ yahoo with a strong immune system, vitamin infused body, and enviable digestive system.

Toronto-20131022-00659

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Fermentation is the exhalation of a substance through the admixture of a ferment which, by virtue of its spirit, penetrates the mass and transforms it into its own nature.”

– Andreas Libavius

When you just don’t feel like it…

There are times where, if you’re like me, you just really don’t feel like it.  What is ‘it’?  ANYTHING!

sorry-i-m-not-in-the-mood

Working, socializing, cleaning, cooking, and all the stuff in between.

For me, it happens when I’m either really stressed out or when I’m not being challenged (mind and body).  These days, it’s more a stress related response as I busily prepare to complete and test for my designation to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

study-stress

Stress and anxiety have such a profound impact on the digestive system and in case it hasn’t been emphasised in prior posts, I wanted to touch upon this again.  When we are stressed, our body shuts down systems that are not vital for survival.  The two systems of the body that are commonly impacted by stress and emotional distress are the reproductive and digestive systems.

Stressed

Our digestion becomes compromised and leads to malabsorption of nutrients which cascades into a ripple effect because we need the right nutrients, in the right proportions to thrive.  For example, not absorbing enough Vitamin B12 will have a negative impact on our entire nervous system which is already likely weakened due to feeling stressed in the first place.  Aside from digestion and reproduction, stress and anxiety negatively impact the endocrine, cardiovascular, nervous, immune, and respiratory systems so you can see how your entire balance can be thrown off.

Stress and Body Systems

Once of my teachers likened feeling anxious, stressed, or even depressed to having a blockage that simply needs to be released.  She said that the stagnating energy needs to be moved and actually suggested simply jumping up and down on the bed.  By the way, if you just google “Jumping on Bed” you’ll get a good laugh which should cheer you up!

Jumping on bed

I’m not into jumping up and down on a bed (what would my cats think!?) but it’s helpful to simply move when you feel emotional distress.  Do some yoga (click here for my favourite FREE online yoga resource), go for a walk, move around your kitchen (cook!), or dance (I just found this gem…you can thank me later because I’m busy getting my moves on), cycle, swim…whatever it takes.  While petting cats is the number one stress relieving mechanism (so says The Health Junction) moving is a close second in stress reduction.  So close this post down and get moving!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” 
– Tina Fey

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Easy Health Fix 101 in 100 Words: Why only H20 counts as Water

water_for_health

The simplest thing we can do to improve health is to drink more water.

Why?

Because your body cannot digest and absorb nutrients in an effective manner without ensuring that food is moving through the gastrointestinal track from top to bottom in about 18-24 hours.  If you want to know how to test for transit time, check this prior post out for the section on Oral-Fecal Transit Time (OFTT).  When food moves too quickly, it doesn’t get broken down properly and can’t be absorbed well – check your stool for undigested bits of food if you think this might be the case for you.  More commonly, however, is that the transit time is very long which is what we call constipation.

health-benefits-of-drinking-water

Constipation causes food to sit and stagnate in your intestines where toxic waste that should be long gone has a chance to mess up your bacterial balance, irritate the intestinal cells, and cause inflammation.  This is how chronic disease starts.

The easiest way to avoid constipation is to, for real, just drink more water.  8-10 cups a day.  Between meals rather than during.  Why?  When you drink during your meal, the water will dilute your gastric juices and decrease the effectiveness of both mechanical and chemical digestion.

Obama

You may find it annoying to drink so much water because visiting the washroom becomes more frequent, but as a wise man pointed out (El Branno) such a complaint is truly a modern-day problem.  Even Obama and Madonna (busiest people in the world?) have time to pick up a glass and drink and then take 30 seconds to pee later in the day.  Having a chronic disease will be much more inconvenient that making a total of 10 minutes a day to nourish your body with a nutrient we literally cannot go more than a few days without.

What doesn’t count as water?

  • tea (unless a non diuretic non caffeinated tea)
  • coffee
  • milk (this is probably the most constipating “food” out there)
  • juice
  • beer
  • wine
  • Gatorade
  • Vitamin Water

What does count as water?

  • water, from the tap.

What can I do to spice up my water?

  • squeeze some lemon
  • place some a few slices of cucumber, orange, lime into a jug and fill with water.  Water will take on the flavour of the fruit.

cucumber-water

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“There are only three things women need in life: food, water, and compliments.”
– Chris Rock

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The Big Smelly Elephant in The Room: FARTING!

Second only to the topic of bowel movements is the subject matter of flatulence. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit around making “fart jokes” (though, I’m not too cool at admit they are still funny to me even at the age of 33) but I do find the topic fascinating.  And, if this weeks earlier post on constipation is any indication, I gather from the site stats that The Health Junction readers enjoy these types of topics.

Fart Joke

As we continue to truck through the month of March, Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it fitting to continue with our discussion GI health with a closer look at our friend, the fart.

Fart Anatomy

First up, lets define gas.  Basically, it is air, composed of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane, which is trapped within the gastrointestinal system.  When it exits the body via the mouth or anus, it’s gas and when it really smells, it probably has a some sulfur in it (ie: the rotten egg smell).  Interesting little tidbit for you – burps come from air trapped from the stomach upwards, whereas flatulence results from air that has made the full trip down your digestive system.  We pass gas on average, 14 times per day and generate a whopping 1/2 litre daily.

fart

The “air” is a result of swallowing air when we eat but is also produced when food is broken down during the digestion.  When food is eaten, it is mechanically chewed and further broken down in the stomach and then small intestine where nutrients are absorbed.  However, some types of carbohydrates are not able to be broken down until they reach the large/lower intestines at which point they are chemically broken down by bacteria.  The result is the release of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and other types of compounds that are indirectly created such as methane or sulfide – the later is the really stinky type that makes you want to quickly evacuate the room.

running from fart

Let’s work our way back up the digestive track from the anus.  From the anus, you’ll recall is the large intestine and above that, the small intestine.  The small intestine usually has a very limited amount of bacteria but if that balance is thrown off and bacteria accumulates, gaseous compounds are bi-products and this is normally the result of consuming too many refined/processed carbohydrates, too much alcohol, or frequent use of antibiotics.  In the nutrition world, we call this condition dysbiosis and it’s linked to intestinal disorders like Crohn’s and Colitis.

colitis

Some foods which are known to increase gas include beans, cruciferous veggies that are high in sulfur (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, onions, mushrooms, artichokes, and asparagus), fruit, whole grains, soft drinks, milk and milk products, processed foods, and sugar-free candies that include chemicals like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol.  You’ll notice from this list that the foods are either indigestible until the lower intestine is reached (beans), or a type of carbohydrate (fruit, grains, etc).

Yikes

Farting is totally normal, but there are somethings you do to reduce the severity, smell, and frequency (SSF).  First up, slow down and chew your food.  Rushing to eat normally results in gulping air down which just hangs around in your GI track causing painful bloating and gas.  Rotate through foods that are known offenders – for example if you love beans try having them every other day to give your digestive system a bit of a break.  Also, you might be experiencing gas related symptoms (farting, burping, and bloating) when consuming food that you are perhaps sensitive or even allergic to – some of the most common culprits include dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, tree nuts, soy, fish, and peanuts.  Consult with a Nutritionist or Naturopath for a better understanding of how to identify and tackle suspected food intolerances or allergies.

Farts for life

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“He couldn’t ad-lib a fart after a baked-bean dinner.”

– Johnny Carson

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf, Chickpea Burgers, and Blueberry Banana Pancakes

It’s been a busy past few weeks and over here at The Health Junction, the kitchen has been in full swing making and testing new recipes.  Here are a few healthy takes on traditional recipes to kick off 2013!

PoppySeed Loaf

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

A while back, my friend Melissa made a delightful dinner and praised “The Looneyspoons Collection” by Janet and Greta Podleski for the array of delicious recipes she had created.  Luckily, Santa brought me this book for Christmas and I’m glad he did – it is a staple for any kitchen.  Here is my take on Poppy Love (page 305):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup milled flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond, soy, or rice milk (you could use regular milk too)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut butter or regular butter.
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest

Directions:  Mix flours, oat bran, milled flax seeds, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and pour into a loaf pan.  Cook at 350 for 45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely.

Chickpea-Burgers

Chickpea Burgers

I like this recipe so much because it’s a vegetarian recipe that is actually filling and satisfying….and it was approved by a picky non-vegetarian.  Chickpeas are an excellent source of insoluble fiber and for that reason is a great food for intestinal health.  They are also a good source of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, and offer one of the best food combinations available – protein and fiber which means chickpeas are idea for blood sugar regulation…horray!

  • 1 x 19 oz can chickepeas
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Directions:  drain chickpeas and put in a medium-sized bowl along with tahini and eggs.  Process it with a food processor or hand immersion blender.  Pulse till smooth but still a little bit coarse.  Add onions, carrots, cilantro, curry, salt and mix well.  Make 4 patties and coat with bread crumbs.  Place on parchment paper and put in fridge for 20 minutes.  Heat a non stick pan and bake 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve with a bun and side salad.  Serves 4.

blueberry-banana-pancakes

Blueberry-Banana Pancakes

Adapted from “The Looneyspoons Collection”, these are REALLY FILLING (and healthy)!

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 2/3 cup oat bran
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or Almond, Rice, or Soy  Milk)*
  • 1/2 cup banana, mashed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted (or butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp pure  maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh berries (I used a mix of cherries, blueberries and blackberries)
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt or yogurt substitute (like So Delicious Coconut “Yogurt”)

*if using something other than buttermilk, you may need to put in a little less to get a thicker consistency.

Directions:  In a large bowl, combine flours, flax seeds, oat bran, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk buttermilk, banana, coconut oil/butter, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Add berries.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and scoop about 1/2 cup per pancake.  When you see bubbles start to appear in the middle of the pancake, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Top pancakes with yogurt and a bit of syrup.  Makes 10 very filling pancakes.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

““Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one.”

– Astrid Alauda

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Tired of dry, flakey, tight, and dull winter skin?

Around the beginning of November, the skin on my face goes from manageable to as dry as the Sahara desert.  My normally very minimal routine no longer suffices and in the past, I’ve resorted to a wonderful, but expensive cream by Kiehl’s.  After investigating, I realised that there are easier and cheaper ways of getting the skin you want that involves just a few simple ingredients that you can find at your local health food or grocery store.

The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that all the nutrients vital to skin health are being consumed regularly:

Water:  it makes sense right?  The more hydrated you are, the more hydrated your skin will be.  Aim for at least 10 cups of water a day…no less.

EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids):  These are your omega 3 & 6’s and sources include:  cold water fish (salmon, etc), flax seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, chia seeds, nuts, and leafy greens.  I also personally supplement with omega-3 fish oil capsules twice a day @ 1400 mg’s/capsule.

EFA’s cannot be absorbed through the intestines when your digestive system isn’t working properly.  So, make sure that you’re avoiding foods which you may be allergic to, chew your food thoroughly, ensure adequate fiber intake (50 grams a day!), and drink lots of water to keep things “flowing”.

Salmon is an excellent source of both omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Have you ever heard of Jojoba Oil?  The oil comes from the seed of the Jojoba shrub which is found the desert areas of both Mexico and the United States.  What is unique about this oil is that its chemical structure is almost identical to the oil produced by our skin and hair.  It’s nourishing and moisturizing to the skin and because it’s similar to our own oil, is easily absorbed and doesn’t leave a nasty greasy residue.  Jojoba oil contains a compound called myristic acid which is an anti-inflammtory agent – this is why jojoba oil is commonly used in the treatment of inflammatory skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.  A bottle of Jojoba Oil (my favourite band is called Desert Essence) costa about $13 dollars and will last you several months.

Jojoba Oil Instructions:  just put a penny sized drop of Jojoba Oil on your palms and massage into your face before bed.  Overnight it will soak into your pores and absorb.  The next morning, wash and moisturizer your skin as your normally would.

If you’re looking to gently exfoliate your face and get ride of those existing flakes, try the following concoction which was recommended by my classmate Emily P.

Facial Scrub Instructions:  Mix a tsp of brown sugar in with a tbsp of Jojoba Oil.  Spread of over your face and gently massage.  Rinse, wash, and moisturize as you normally would.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“Look at children.  Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do.  Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside?  Children don’t usually act in such a manner.  If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished.  They can still play with that person the following day.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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Weekly Recipe Bulletin – Work Week Breakfast & 9 to 5 Lunch

Over the past year or so, I’ve come to realise that many people know what they should be eating – but making it happen is a whole other story.  The pace of life is so fast and we’re running in place (or from home to work, driving kids to sports, school, book clubs, dinner dates, the gym, etc) so trying to eat healthy with a limited “time” budget can be a challenge.  My whole world is healthy eating/living and even I find it hard at times!

With that in mind, this week the focus is on getting in a good breakfast and lunch with the following recipes – each packed with nutrition and can be accomplished with as little as 15 minutes a day.  Try it for one week and I promise that you’ll feel so good you’ll want to continue investing time and energy into your health.

Sunday Night Muesli Delight

On Sunday night, you’re going to grab a big Tupperware container (3-4 litres will do).  Grab the following ingredients, toss them into the Tupperware, and shake until combined (this will take you under 10 minutes).  Each  morning when you wake up, grab about 1/3rd a cup of this mix, top it with Almond milk (or whatever milk you enjoy) and let it sit for 20 minutes till the milk is absorbed…then enjoy.  Thank you my amazing teacher and author Caroline Dupont for her inspiration!  This makes about 10 servings.

– 2 cups rolled oats

– 1/2 cup chia seeds

– 1/2 cup flax seeds

– 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

– 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

– 1/4 cup goji berries

– 1/4 cup cranberries

– 4 dried apricots, chopped

– 2 tsp cinnamon

– 2 tbsp honey (optional)

9-5 Work Week Lunch

I’m on the 9-5 Work Week Lunch bandwagon and I’m never getting off.  Each time I eat a different variation of this recipe I’m floored by how awesome it tastes.  It leave you feeling full, focused, and doesn’t cause bloating or post-meal fatigue.  It takes about 15 minutes if you’re using your time wisely and can be done while you’re waiting for your muesli to soak.  Again, thank you to Caroline Dupont for sharing this secret with me so that I could share it with you!  Here’s how it works:

Get a medium-sized pot and put a grain in it – I like to use one of the following:  brown rice, soba noodles, millet, or quinoa.  For the purpose of this example, let’s go with quinoa.

In the pot, put 1/2 cup of water and bring it to a boil.  Add 1/4 cup of quinoa.

Put a steamer on top of the grain and add in the following (note, when you steam the veggies all their juices will fall into the quinoa which you’re going to eat – score!)

– 2 cups leafy green veggies (I like kale or swiss chard)

– 1 cup of an orange or red veggie (red pepper, carrots, etc)

– 1 cup of bean sprouts (or other sprouts)

Cover and let steam until the quinoa is ready – about 10 minutes.

Pour the quinoa and steamed veggies in a big bowl and mix.  Next you’re going to add your seasonings and concentrated protein – here is what I normally add in:

– 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

– 1 tbsp sunflower seeds

– 1 tbsp walnuts

– 1 tbsp chia seeds

– 2-3 sheets of nori (sea weed)

– you could also add some cooked chicken, turkey, fish, or tofu

– 1 tbsp chives

– 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves

– tbsp fresh cilantro

– 1 diced raw clove of garlic

– 1 tbsp sauerkraut (the fermented kind you find in the refrigerated section of a health food store)

You need a suace to bring this to life.  You an use a bit of sesame seed oil, tahini, or ponzu sauce…I make a big patch of sauce on Sunday night and then use it throughout the week.  Here is a breakdown of my ponzu sauce that is adapted from the Fresh at Home cookbook (this cookbook btw has a whole chapter on cool sauces and there are 12 copies available at the Toronto Public Library):

– 4 cloves garlic

– 1/4 cup fresh ginger, chopped

– 1.5 stalks of lemongrass (available in the fresh spice/herb section of the fruit and veg section of your grocery store)

– 1/4 cup chili flakes

– 1/4 cup dry white wine

– 2 cup s water

– 1/3 cup soy sauce

– 1/3 cup brown sugar

Combine everything in a pot and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, strain so that you remove all the chunks of garlic, lemon grass, and ginger and store the liquid in an air tight container in the fridge.

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Monday Morning Roundup

Interesting stories I found this week on the interweb related to nutrition, health, and wellbeing.  Enjoy!

Is your stomach still on the mend from a weekend of rough eating and partying?  Check out this tidbit from Harvard Health on 7 ways to tame tummy trouble.

Cold and flu season is unfortunately right around the corner.  Check out this tidbit from HowStuffWorks.com that outlines 5 Ways to Kick A Cold Without a Prescription.

I’m a huge fan of workout out…without working out.  Since I hate gyms and equipment, I loved this article by Lifehacker called How to Get a Complete Workout With Nothing But Your Body.  There are countless lists on how to improve your level of fitness without leaving your house or neighbourhood!

 

This website ROCKS!  You can enter in two food items and it will calculate the difference in nutrition.  I entered in cheese vs. apples and it calculated the nutritional value for each serving of 100 grams.  Check out TwoFoods.com to do your own calculation.

 

I really enjoy cycling as my main method of transportation but when I started out, it was tough to figure out how to navigate snowy cold Toronto.  Here is a great article written by Anil Kanji on GreenLivingOnline.com that is the ultimate go-to guide on cycling throughout the year in cold climates.

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What do hormones, cheese, arthritis, osteoporosis and mood disorders have in common?

In The Chemistry of Coke, the impact of consuming an acidic soft drink was examined in relation to the pH of our blood.  To summarize, in order to maintain an acceptable pH of 7.40 our body learns how to neutralize the extra acidity by bringing in more basic substances.

In North America, our diet tends to be on the acidic side because we eat too much, proportionally, of foods that tend to be higher in acid.  Here is a rundown of “acidic” foods and beverages that tend to be over consumed:

pop

processed grains

meat (beef, chicken, turkey, ham, lamb, organ meat – including organic meat)

booze

coffee

black tea

cocoa

dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)

eggs

There are certain fruits and veggies that tend to be more acidic but in our society, these are likely not the culprits of acidity – it’s the list above.  In general, fruits and veggies are alkaline as are whole grains, and non-animal sources of protein like beans and tofu.

Our blood, tissues, and body systems function best at a neutral pH and when this doesn’t exist our health is compromised mainly due to reduced enzyme function and inflammation caused by the acidity.  Some common conditions associated with acidity include:

– higher than normal levels of cortisol (stress hormone)

– mood issues like depression

– cardiovascular disease

– osteoporosis

– diabetes (type II) with associated weight gain where there is fat accumulated around the midsection

– poor digestion

– lack of energy

– arthritis and joint issues with joint health

– weakened immune system

– hormone imbalances

– comprised bladder and kidney health

From a chemical standpoint, when we eat acidic food our body immediately recognizes the need to neutralise the acidity and calls in one of several buffer systems.  Some examples of buffers include bicarbonate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium – once they are used as neutralizing agents they’re eliminated through our urine.

Let’s use the example of bone health and calcium which is needed for the construction and maintenance of bones.  In fact 99% of calcium is stored in our bones.  When we eat too many acidic foods, calcium which is required as a buffer, is drawn from the bones.

It would be interesting to consider that taking more calcium is NOT the answer (note:  over calcification can negatively impact the absorption of other nutrients like magnesium, iron, and zinc and can interact with beta blockers which are often taken by people with compromised heart health).

Taking more calcium is sort of like symptom suppression and it might be interesting to try adjusting the diet to eliminate or reduce some of the more acidic foods and replacing them with more alkaline nutrients.  Removing acidic foods completely is not realistic or sustainable for most of us – but being aware of the quantity of these foods we put in our mouth is something of which to be aware.

For more information on the acid-alkaline guide to food selection check out the following books:

The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health: Restore Your Health by Creating pH Balance in Your Diet by C. Vasey

The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide: A Quick Reference to Foods & Their Effect on pH Levels by S. Brown and L. Trivieri

The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet, Second Edition: An Innovative Program that Detoxifies Your Body’s Acidic Waste to Prevent Disease
and Restore Overall Health by F. Kliment

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