3 Things I Loved Last Week…

In no particular order of importance, here are some items that rocked my healthy junction boat last week.

EE-book-front

1.  From an amazing whole foods based cookbook authored by one of my favourite nutrition teachers at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, Caroline Dupont’s The New Enlightened Eating cookbook provided me with some seriously enlightened meals.  From her Lemon Date Squares, Spiced Chia Pudding, and Applesauce Muffins, to more savory dishes like Indian Spinach and Broccoli Puree and  Roasted New Potatoes W/ Tarragon Vinaigrette – Caroline’s book has quickly become one of my “go-to” favourites for weekly meal planning.  If you like cooking with whole foods but don’t enjoy hunting for obscure ingredients, check out this book.

danforth_bridge

2.  I’ve especially enjoyed cycling to work these past few weeks with all the beautiful fall foliage on display.  The view from The Bloor-Danforth Viaduct is my favourite, especially because I know the Evergreen Brickworks (the most wonderful place in all of Toronto) is nestled in the trees below.

Don Valley Parkway Fall

 

3.  A friend and colleague of mine suggested a website called My Yoga Online for times when an aspiring yogi just doesn’t feel like leaving the house to hit up a scheduled class.

myyoga_Website_03

You pay a monthly subscription fee (I think it’s about $9/month) and get unlimited access to hundreds if not thousands of online yoga videos that are professional and diverse.  For instance, you can choose from different types of yoga (hatha, restorative, vinyasa, etc) as well as the class length which can range between 5 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes.  There are even meditation videos!  It’s a convenient and inexpensive method of practicing yoga daily and I find I’m able to get to my mat more often.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”   

– Albert Camus

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Why you shouldn’t have beef with dark chicken meat in 100 words

When I was growing up, and actually until about a year ago I always though dark poultry was “bad” for me because of the higher fat content.  During a course on sports nutrition, my teacher Dr. Daniel Watters (ND) totally blew my mind when he asked us to consider the importance of what the tissue we’re consuming is used for in the originating animal.

Dark vs. white chicken meat

In the case of chicken thighs vs. chicken breast for example, the thighs are a powerhouse of movement for the chicken and are very much full of muscle tissue.  So, imagine how a chicken moves and functions – the legs move around, but what about the breasts?  Not a whole lot of action going on with a chicken’s breast since they don’t actually fly.

Chicken

 

Chicken thighs are packed with much more myoglobin as compared to the breast and myoglobin contains a lot of iron which is excellent for the all you lady readers.  Dark meat also tends to have more zinc, B1, B2, B6, and B12 (important for you immune system, adapting to the environment, mood, prevention of migraine headaches and the list could literally go on for days).  Dark poultry meat has roughly 3 x more fat than its white counterpart but 2/3rd of that fat is unsaturated which isn’t bad for you in moderation.  Feeling peckish?  Try out this recipe adapted from The Looneyspoons Collection.

Amazingly Saucy Chicken Thighs

12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (try to get organic free range if possible)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3rd cup all natural grape jelly

1/2 cup of organic all natural ketchup

1 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder

Pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except for chicken and bring to a boil.  Jelly will melt.  Lay the thighs out in a 9 x 13 baking dish and pour sauce overtop the thighs.  Turn and coat well.  Place in oven for 45 minutes.  Serve with 1 cup of broccoli on the side and you’ve got yourself a dinner to remember.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“We all like chicken” 

–  Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)

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The Health Junction Mailbox: Are Smoothies bad for me?

Dear The Health Junction,

I merely wanted to know what your take on smoothies was. At first they seemed to be the key to eternal life, but then I asked my other nutritionist mate Glen who pissed on the parade a bit, and then I started to read a book called Bad Science that is dissing Patrick Holford and the whole idea of nutritional science in general so I have got myself all confused.

What do you say?

From,

Stephen Kent, Sengawa Japan

Hiking with Stephen @ Mt. Takao in Japan

Hiking with Stephen @ Mt. Takao in Japan

Dear Stephen,

First up, I’m glad I could find a picture of you which showcases that you’re a healthy guy who enjoys eating healthy food (apple in hand and all)…though, bring British, I know you do enjoy the occasional beer.

Fukuoka Izakaya

Fukuoka Izakaya

Readers should really check out this great article by Glen Matten, founder of the site Health Uncut:  The Antidote to Poor Health Advice  before reading on as I think it provides some excellent insight into the usual main component of smoothies – fruit.

So, are smoothies bad for you?  Yes and No depending on how they’re made.  If you’re putting a bunch of fruit and little else in your smoothie, then I would argue you’re doing more harm than good.  Why?  Because, while natural, fruit contains a lot of sugar which we know, in excess and over time, can cause a cascade or health problems.  Inflammation, insulin resistance, hypertension, an increase in bad “LDL” cholesterol while decreasing your healthy “HDL” cholesterol..just to name a few.  I eat fruit but consider it a special treat which in my opinion should be limited to 1-2 servings a day.  Even at that, I would recommend choosing lower Glycemic Index fruits which will have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels than it’s higher GI counterparts.

fruit smoothie

Having fruit means having sugar and having sugar is especially problematic in the morning when you want to start your day off with a slow and steady release of energy rather than a sudden onslaught of sugar which is found in many homemade smoothies.

That being said, I have a green smoothie a few mornings during the week but I try to use them as an opportunity to ingest vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.  The combination of healthy fats, protein, vegetables, and some fruit help keep me satiated, sharp, energized, and blood-sugar balanced at during the time of day when it matters the most – starting off with stable blood sugar levels paves the way for stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.  Here is how I do it:

green-smoothie

BASIC AM GREEN SMOOTHIE

1/4th Avocado or 1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 – 1/2 cup of low glycemic load fruit (I use a mix of raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries).  Click here for information on the GI/GL of fruit.  Low GI is 55 or less, low GL is 10 or less).

1-2 cups of leafy greens (start with a mild leafy green such as red leaf lettuce or romaine).  I normally use 1 cup romaine or red leaf lettuce and 1 cup of kale or bok choy.

2 tbsp of seeds (mix it up between flax, hemp, and chia)

3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop Vega energizing smoothie powder (10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving).

2 tbsp cooked steel-cut oats (good if you commute to work via foot or bike and you need a bit of extra available energy).

Place in a blender (I enjoy the Blendec but there are lots of great options on the market) and blend for 45 seconds or until contents are well mixed.  Drink immediately.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“”May the Smoothie be with you…Always”.

–  Author Unknown

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Why Cats Don’t Suffer From Adrenal Fatigue…

For such a small and often overlooked body part, the adrenal glands sure do pack a hormone infused punch.  The adrenal glands are located just above our kidney’s and are the key gland that control our reaction to physical, environmental, and emotional stressors.

adrenal glands

Among the host of hormones produced by the adrenal glands are cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.  Cortisol works by increasing the level of glucose in our blood, controlling inflammation, reducing swelling, and inhibiting pain-causing prostaglandins.  In addition, cortisol plays an integral role in regulating fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism, our immune response, and blood pressure.

Frustrated Businesswoman on Telephone

What’s up with adrenaline and noradrenaline?  Much like cortisol, these hormones are released when we feel threatened and cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.  Another result is the dilation of passageways, including those in the lungs so that more oxygen and glucose can circulate and help us combat the impending stressors.

Stressor

Now, you may  know that I enjoy cats and members of the cat family.  However, if this guy above was chasing me I would not enjoy it and my adrenal glands would spring into action by secreting the hormones described above to help me run faster, breath better, utilize energy most efficiently, and get myself to safety.  Fantastic.  But, what happens when we are exposed to long-term stress?  The kind that sort of just hangs around and is constant?

chronic stress

If the acute stress we are supposed to be able to handle becomes chronic, eventually our adrenal glands become less responsive and putter out because they are tired – hence a very common condition called Adrenal Fatigue.  The main cause of adrenal fatigue is actually low levels of cortisol because our adrenals simply can’t keep up with demand.  Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

Symptoms of AF

  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble getting out of bed despite adequate sleep
  • Feeling rundown
  • Difficulty recovering from stress
  • Difficulty recovering from illness
  • Food cravings; sugary and salty
  • More energy in the PM as compared to the AM
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Low blood pressure (worse when moving from a sitting to standing)
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • General Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to sleep soundly
  • General lack of wellness

How can adrenal fatigue be addressed?  Both lifestyle and nutritional modifications can help revive your adrenal glands and pave the way for a happier, healthier you.

LIFESTYLE CONSIDERATIONS

A great first place to start is a book called Adrenal Fatigue:  The 21st Century Stress Syndrome written by Dr. James L. Wilson.

Adrenal-Fatigue-Cover

In his book, Wilson writes about the lifestyle factors that need to be addressed in order to treat the root cause of why adrenal fatigue exists in the first place and the obvious first factor to consider is stress.  Are there constant stressors in your life that need to be dealt with?  Common stressors include; work commitments, being unhappy in your workplace role, family obligations, lack of time to oneself, inability to express emotions effectively, etc.  Wilson asks readers to ask three questions regarding stressors:

  • Can you change the situation?  If so, then do.
  • Can you change the way you adapt to the situation?  If so, then do.
  • If all else fails, can you leave the situation?

Sleep

Aside from identifying and reducing the stressors in your life, you’ll be better able to cope with day-to-day obstacles when you’re well rested and so, 8 hours of sleep is recommended and it’s best to be in bed by 10 pm.  Also, if possible try to avoid being on the computer or watching TV a few hours before bed.  Also, strongly consider removing chocolate, coffee, booze, cigarette’s, and other known stimulants from your diet as they interfere with sleep patterns.

Exercising Cat

Exercise helps to release stress and energizes both the mind and body – try your best to work in 30 minutes of physical activity a day.  If you’re not in shape, start with brisk walking…do whatever it takes to get your body moving.

Laughing Cat - Vitamin L2

Figure out ways to make yourself laugh.  It will make you feel better and helps to relieve stress.  See this prior post for more on this topic.

Cat Nap

Take naps during the day, but only for 15-minutes and lay down when you do it.  A snooze on the subway doesn’t count.

NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

Nutrition is an integral component of correcting adrenal fatigue and the recommendations below will work hand in hand with the aforementioned lifestyle changes.

1.)  There is a relationship between stress, cortisol, and blood sugar levels.  Earlier in this post, I explained that cortisol in part, helps to bring up blood sugar levels during times of stress so we can hypothetically fight off whatever is putting us at risk.  Another reason why our glucose levels might be low and require cortisol is when we have large spikes and dips in our blood sugar levels brought on by foods that cause an exaggerated metabolic response to food.  Food that can cause rapid spikes and then dips in blood sugar levels include:

  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit

While fruits and grains are good for us, people suffering from adrenal fatigue may consider holding off on eating fruit and grains in the morning in order to prevent a cascade of inappropriate blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day.  When selecting grains, always choose whole grains and when considering fruit, select low glycemic index fruits which will have the smallest impact on our blood sugar response.    Click here for a list of low glycemic index fruits.

Meal Time

2.)  Eat regular meals.  This is closely tied with the information above as it is crucial to keep blood sugar levels stable in order to regulate cortisol and insulin levels in the blood.  Try eating breakfast within an hour of waking, have an early lunch (11 – 11:30 am), a snack at 2:30 or 3 pm, and then dinner between 5 – 6 pm.

3.)  Limit fatty foods and excessive salt.

4.)  Plant and animal sterols are useful to help keep the immune system in balance which is often a problem when one is exposed to prolonged periods of stress.  Food sources of plant and animal sterols include fresh (low GI) fruit, organic free range eggs, nuts, seeds, veggies, healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil), fresh fish.

Cat Eating Veggies

5.)  Get your vitamins and minerals through lots of leafy greens and orange/red/yellow/purple veggies.  Vitamin C, and the B Vitamins are often depleted during stress and can be found in the food listed.  additionally, these foods are high in magnesium which is helpful in promoting relaxation and supporting anxiety and depression.

6.) Give your digestive system a break by choosing high quality proteins such as organic free range chicken, wild fish, beans, nuts, and seeds.  These proteins are less taxing on the hydrochloric acid required to break protein down and will allow for easier digestion not only of proteins, but all foods ingested.

Cat Having Tea

7.)  Consider taking some adaptogenic herbs which may help your body adapt and manage stress.  One great adaptogen is ginseng which can be taken as a supplement, a tea infusion, or a tincture.  To make a tea, try boiling a small pot of water with 3-5 slices of fresh ginseng and allow it to steep for 5 minutes.  You can also purchase ginseng tea or ginseng supplements from most health food stores.  Siberian, Panox, and Indian Ginseng are all good options.

8.)  Consider taking Vitamin C (2 grams/day), Vitamin B5 (1500 mg/day), and Magnesium (150 mg twice a day).  Food sources of each of these nutrients are listed below:

Vitamin C: papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, kiwi, oranges, kale.

Vitamin B5:  whole grains, cauliflower, broccoli, salmon, sweet potatoes, tomatoes.

Magnesium:  pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss Chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds.

 

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Cats have it all – admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.”

– Rod McKuen

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Recipe Roundup: Peanut Butter Flax Cookies, Millet Cauliflower Mash, Quinoa Quiche, and Orange Chicken

Here are some of my favourite recipes from the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Flax Cookies

Peanut Butter Flax Cookies have a bit of sugar and butter but they include flax and organic peanut butter making them a healthier treat for special occasions.

Quinoa Quiche

I’ve made this recipe twice and it’s so GOOD!  It takes a while to prepare so do it on a morning when you’re not pressured for time.  Quinoa Quiche is full of healthy veggies and protein to boot.

Cauliflower Mash

It’s nice to experiment with new grains, especially gluten-free grains which we’re far less accustom to eating.  I liked this dish because it combined a nice hearty grain with a nice hearty veggie.  Millet Cauliflower Mash is a stick to your ribs kind of dish!

Orange Chicken

Try this out on a night where you don’t have a whole lot of time but are craving something tangy.  It takes about 30 minutes in total to create this Orange Chicken which would go nice with some brown basmati rice and a green leafy salad on the side.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Oh, I adore to cook.  It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.” 

– Truman Capote

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Tips for the Frugally Organic

A frequent question asked by confused consumers is “how important is it to eat organically – are the higher prices justified?”  While it’s true that organically grown food tends to be more expensive than the conventional counterparts, the nutritional, health, and environmental benefits far exceed food produced by industrial farming.

Organic vs Conventional Farming

Organic food means that it is not genetically modified (GMO), is free from pesticides and herbicides, and has not been grown from synthetic fertilizers.  Nutrient density of organic food is higher than conventionally grown crops.  Furthermore, by choosing organic you’ll help guarantee safer working conditions for farmers and enable the maintenance of nearby wildlife habitat.

GMO

Compared to industrial/conventional farming, organic food practices also produces fewer greenhouse emissions, preserves soil integrity, reduces water pollution and is the only sustainable long-term solution for preserving a variety of nutrient dense food.

Save Money Organic Food

Purchasing organic food can be costly, but it doesn’t need to be with these quick tips for the Frugally Organic:

Re-evaluate your budget and try to find more dollars to invest on organic food by cutting out on processed junk foods.

Farmer's Market

Visit a farmers market and speak to the vendors – find out what is grown organically.  You’ll be doing double duty by investing in locally grown organic food.  Wychwood Barns, The Brickworks, and Dufferin Grove Park are year-round farmers markets available in Toronto.  For a complete list of up-to-date information on Farmer’s Market’s in Toronto, click here.

Freeze your food.  Capitalize on seasonal fruits and vegetables by paying a lower price when supply is high and then dipping into your stock during the year.

Buy in bulk from places like Bulk Barn and pay a lower per gram rate.

Eat Seasonally

Sample Foods Seasonally.  Prices will always be lower in season and it’s also a great opportunity to try new foods!

Slow and steady wins the race.  Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Each week add a new organically grown food and watch your organic base grow.

And lastly, if you can only afford to purchase a few foods organically, here is a list known as the “Dirty Dozen” which includes foods with the highest concentration of pesticides and herbicides when consumed conventionally.

APPLES

CELERY

CHERRY TOMATOES

CUCUMBER

GRAPES

HOT PEPPERS

NECTARINES

PEACHES

POTATOES

SPINACH

STRAWBERRIES

SWEET BELL PEPPERS

KALE/COLLARD GREENS

SUMMER SQUASH

Go Organic

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

– Wendell Barry, The Unsettling of America:  Culture and Agriculture

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Spring Breakfast Smoothie, Slow Cooker Veggie Casserole, and Fruity Cookies

It’s been a while, thanks for sticking with me. The past few months have been busier than usual over here at The Health Junction while I finish up with school (send me good vibes on April 19th when I write my final board exam), starting my dream job working at Glycemic Index Laboratories, and switching to teaching nutrition and cooking at a new school where I’ll be continuing my work with middle school kids.

When I get super busy, it becomes easy to stop eating well by grabbing food on-the-go or resorting to relatively processed choices.  I never feel good when I don’t infuse my diet with healthy ingredients so during particularly hectic periods my I like to focus on recipes that:

  • don’t require more than 15-20 minutes prep time
  • make a lot and freeze well for storing away some leftovers
  • have diversity; I want to get as many nutrients as possible
  • taste good
  • are focused on lean, quality, non-animal protein sources
  • are low in dairy content

The following recipes satisfied the above criteria and I hope that you’ll enjoy them during busy times as much as I did.  Enjoy!

Spring Breakfast Smoothie

Spring Breakfast Smoothie  (serves 2)

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup any type of berry
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 2 cups any type of leafy green.  If you are new to adding greens to your smoothie, start with a standard red leaf or romaine lettuce.
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I like Vega Energizing Smoothie…the tropical mango, vanilla-almond, berry, or choc-a-lot flavours are nice)
  • 2-3 tbsp oats
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (or rice, or soy)
  • 1.5 cup water

Blend to your heart’s content.  Sip.  Enjoy knowing this breakfast is literally chalked full of Vitamin A, B6, B12, Folate, C, Magnesium, Potassium, Flavonoids, and Fiber.  The oats add a complex carbohydrate for increased energy and balances blood sugar.  Finally, the protein powder is totally vegan, has 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and just enough calories to keep you going without feeling bloated or full.

vegetable_casserole

Vegetable Slow Cooker Casserole

  • 2  19-oz. cans cannellini beans
  • 1  19-oz. can garbanzo or fava beans
  • 1/4  cup purchased basil pesto
  • 1  medium onion, chopped
  • 4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2  tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1  16-oz. pkg. refrigerated cooked plain polenta cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices (looks like a tube…found in the international isle or  near the pasta section in your grocery store)
  • 1  large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1  8-oz. pkg. finely shredded Italian cheese blend (2 cups)
  • 2  cups fresh spinach
  • 1  cup torn radicchio

Rinse and drain beans.  In large bowl combine beans, 2 tablespoons of pesto, onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker layer half of bean mixture, half of polenta, and half of cheese. Add remaining beans and polenta.  Cover; cook on low heat setting for 4 to 6 hours (or on high heat setting 2 to 2-1/2 hours).  Add tomato, remaining cheese, spinach, and radicchio.  Combine remaining pesto and 1 tablespoon water. Drizzle pesto mixture on casserole.  Let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Fruity Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fruity Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups oats (I use old-fashioned rolled oats)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or brown rice work nice)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I like strawberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, cranberries or apple)
  • 3/4 cup milled flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup honey (I only use 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter/oil (mash it well before adding it to recipe)
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Add all the dry ingredients up to an including the salt in a bowl.  Mix well.  Add the bananas, honey, and coconut butter in another bowl…mix well.  Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients…and mix well.  I use the kitchenaide mixer for a few minutes to make sure it’s well combined.  Drop cookies 1 tbsp at a time onto a cookie sheet…cook 10 minutes or until brown.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“I don’t like food that’s too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef  is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a  picture I’d buy a painting.”
– Andy Rooney

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Aging Joyfully: A Lesson from the Oldsters

I recently completed a course on geriatric nutrition and before my first class I have to admit, I was not excited.  Studying nutrition specifically geared at the elderly population is so far off the nutritional topics I am typically drawn to and so, I went to my first class with very low expectations.

What I anticipated to be my least favourite course in the program ended up being truly life changing and my perspective on aging, the elderly population, and the general concept of happiness were challenged and reformed.  The instructor, Japanese Naturopathic Doctor Mami Ishii, brought a unique perspective into a population that is generally considered unglamorous and a life stage that most of us are not looking forward to all that much.

Aging Population

Dr. Ishii had the class read Healthy at 100 by John Robbins which has literally, even after studying nutrition for over 2 years, revolutionized the way I view what constitutes vitality and healthy living.  In his book, Robbins starts by outlining the dietary and lifestyle habits of four of the world’s longest-living societies; Abkhasians (South Russia), Vilcabambans (Equador), Hunzans (Central Asia), and the Okinawans (Japan).  Each of these four places has an extraordinarily high number of people who live until and beyond 100 years and they share the same approach to diet and lifestyle.  In fact, the commonalities are staggering.

Okinawa

Okinawa, Japan

 What Robbins outlined in Healthy at 100 is that each of these groups eats a plant-based, whole foods diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  They eat very little processed foods and sugar and opt for whole grain carbohydrates.  The concept of retirement is null and void and “oldsters” in these areas are active and live purposefully throughout their lives.  Culturally, the older you are, the more esteem you’re given.  They are very active, yet their caloric intake is less than 2000/day.  They limit animal based products to 1% (Hunzans, Vilcabambans), 3% (Okinawa), and 10% (Abkasian).

Healthy at 100

Robbins goes into describing the changes China has undergone in the past few decades and nicely summarizes findings from one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted all of which you can read in a book called The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell.  The China Study had researchers collected blood, urine, and diet journals from 50 people in each 65 counties and 130 villages selected throughout China.  Researchers analyzed the data with respect to over 50 diseases and though the results are plentiful, findings can be summarized as follows.

china-map

In areas of China that are still developing, people are dying from diseases related to nutritional deficiencies and hygiene inadequacies which includes ailments like tuberculosis, respiratory illnesses, measles, and diarrhea.  Conversely, in areas of China that have been developed the diseases have shifted dramatically to deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity related illnesses such as complications from Type II Diabetes.  Dr. Campbell coins this shift as death from “nutritional extravagance” because it has been directly linked to an increase in refined foods and a much higher intake of saturated fats stemming from animal foods (meat and dairy) and hydrogenated foods.  In short, the one of the largest indicators of wealth in China is the level of ones cholesterol levels.  You can bet that high levels of HDL cholesterol are not found in the developing areas of China, but instead larger more prosperous cities.

China_Obesity_Chart

What does all this have to do with geriatric nutrition?  We should expect to live into old age and this part of the life-cycle is natural, beautiful, and meant to be experienced.  The idea that we are all going to die from a chronic illness is rubbish and believing in dying from disease is something worth reconsidering.  Reading Healthy at 100 made me reconsider my dietary choices and the overwhelming evidence that supports the longevity associated with a whole foods, plant-based diet that is low in animal based foods is undeniable.  It’s a hard revelation to come to for those us use to eating meat each day…or even several times a week.  The idea of aging joyfully and experiencing life to its fullest is definitely something I am striving for and the advice in Healthy to 100 makes it seem possible, if not expected.

Oldsters

Healthy at 100 is a positive and encouraging read that will inspire you to look at your diet, connect with your community, and move intentionally each and every day.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr

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Green Smoothies 101 in 100 Words: A Veggietastic Breakfast Solution

What is the most important thing I’ve learned at school over the past 12 months?

what did you learn today

Drink more water and eat more greens.  Okay, that is technically two but lucky for you they’re both included in this next nutritional recommendation.  If you’re interested in learning about the benefits of adequate water consumption, click here and for information on why leafy greens are important, this will help explain things.

Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are the easiest way I can think of to get a huge dose of vegetables into your diet.  When starting your day of with one of these diddy’s you’re paving the way towards a full day of health eating.  The sugar content is extremely low because the only sweet ingredient included is fruit which is naturally occurring.  With a dash of complex carbohydrates and a whole lot of fiber, green smoothies will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent ravenous cravings later in the day.  Green smoothies are alkanalizing and are busting with vitamins and minerals.  Here is a recipe to get you started but the beauty of green smoothies is that the combinations are endless…as are the health benefits.

The Health Junction Green Combustion

  • 2-3 cups of leafy greens.  I like mixing red leaf lettuce and kale.
  • handful of frozen blueberries
  • half a banana
  • stalk of celery
  • 1/4th avocado
  • 1 scoop of vega energizing smoothie powder (I like the Choc-a-Lot Flavour)
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk + 1 cup of water
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • A couple of tbsp’s of hemp, flax, or chia seeds (optional)

Throw ingredients in the blender – it’s best to layer the denser foods (frozen blueberries, celery) on the bottom and the lighter ingredients on the top.  Pour in water and almond milk last.  I usually start blending on the ice crushing setting of my blender but do whatever works best with your home blender.

Pour into a large glass and sprinkle with some cinnamon.  This contains 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

 “Each of us has two “doctors”—the left and the right leg.”

– Vilcabamban philosophy on the importance of walking

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Eating Likes the Aztecs: Amaranth 101 in 100 Words

Amaranth

What’s up with Amaranth?  I always see it on the standard list of gluten-free grains but it’s not so commonly used in western cooking.

Amaranth Plan

Amaranth, popular with the Aztecs, is a plant with a flowery head that contains the seeds we eat.  The nutritional profile of amaranth is interestingly similar to swiss chard, beets, spinach, and quinoa – this because they all belong to the same Chenopodiacease family.  Like many dark leafy greens, amaranth is chalked with magnesium, calcium, and iron in much higher quantities than most grains (like wheat for example).  In terms of taste, it can be described as nutty, earthy, and ever so slightly sweet.

Lysine

What’s cool about Amaranth is that it is rich in the essential amino acid Lysine.  An essential amino acid, btw, is protein building block that we cannot make and therefore must be obtained from our diet.  This particular amino acid is used for making carnitine which we need to convert fatty acids into energy.  Also, it helps the absorption of calcium which works very synergistically with the fact that Amaranth is a good source of calcium.  Overall, it has more protein than any other gluten-free grain and lots of fiber too.  Here is a amaranth porridge recipe from an awesome site called Naturally Ella that is DELICIOUS!

Amaranth Banana Porridge

Banana-Pecan Amaranth Porridge

(adapted from Naturally Ella & recipe created by Erin Alderson)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup amaranth
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bananas
  • Milk (almond or coconut), to serve

 Directions: 

Combine amaranth with one cup water and salt. Bring amaranth to a boil, and reduce to a simmer and then cover and  simmer for 15 mins.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 mins.  If it’s too thick, add some almond or coconut milk and set aside.  Add pecans to a dry skillet and toast over medium-low heat, stir often. Toast ar0und 3 minutes.  Set aside.  Heat coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon over medium-low heat. Cut bananas in ½” slices and add to skillet, cook until bananas are extremely tender and maple syrup has absorbed into the slices.  Stir together ¾ of the bananas and amaranth. Pour into bowls and top with remaining bananas, pecans, and a drizzle of milk.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” 

– Irish Proverb

**DISCLAIMER:  PLEASE NOTE THAT ANY ADVERTISEMENTS THAT APPEAR ON THIS PAGE DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS OF THE HEALTH JUNCTION**

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