Chalk One Up for Healthy Fats

Hip-Hip-Hooray!

I love the following post from Dr. Andrew Weil.  If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s the Harvard educated MD who has built his career on integrating healthy lifestyles and alternative medical options  with current accepted western allopathic medical practices.

For WAY too long, we have demonized eating fat, particularly saturated fat,  and have promoted  unnatural “low- fat” and “non-fat” foods. As Dr. Weil points out below, most of the low- fat foods have substituted sugar for the fat.

There’s plenty of evidence that it’s  this practice that has led to damaged health and metabolisms. There’s also plenty of evidence that fat is not the culprit when it comes to heart disease…. unnatural fats, such as anything hydrogenated and also weird vegetable oils… and also too much sugar in the diet and zero exercise…. are the bigger culprits that everyone should be paying attention to and pointing their fingers at. 

I still see so many people just freaked out about using fat of any kind, particularly saturated fats. The thing to remember, or know, is that we MUST have fat. Here’s a list of some of the many uses for fat in the human body:

  • required for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, K,
  • required for the adequate use of proteins,
  • serves as a protective lining for the organs of the body,
  • necessary for manufacturing prostaglandins that occur in nearly all body tissues and fluids, 
  • regulates our cells’ communication for “nutrients in” and “waste out”, 
  • provide the fine tuning needed for maintaining homeostasis within the body, 
  • controls the inflammatory process, 
  • maintains some common steroid hormones including testosterone, cortisol, estradiol and progesterone.
  • is part of the myelin sheath which is an insulating layer that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord, without which, nerve impulses wouldn’t be able to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells, causing diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
  • And….
  • Low-fat diets cause hormonal swings that can disrupt the balance of serotonin in the brain. Studies have shown that improper serotonin production can lead to depression. Low levels of serotonin are also connected to other mood problems like aggression and suicidal behavior. Without enough dietary fat, the body lacks the resources it needs to produce adequate serotonin.

In addition, it’s our muscles’ preferred source of energy or fuel. Need to keep going for a long time? Fat is far superior at fueling our muscles and maintaining our energy levels than carbohydrates.

Speaking of muscles, what is one of the most important muscles in our body? I hope you said your heart…. yes, fat is the preferred energy source for the old pumper. Having said that, it’s important to acknowledge that whereas our ancestors consumed lots of fat in meat, fish, full fat milk, real butter, etc…, the source of that fat was more natural than what we find in our markets now.

In other words, the meat and butter they ate and the milk they drank would have been from animals that only ate what they were meant to eat (like grass fed cows) and the animals would not have been confined to feed lots. The quality of the meat would’ve been healthier and leaner and the nutrients in the milk and butter would’ve had more beneficial qualities. And humans were more active out of sheer necessity… it had to have been flat out hard work to be a caveman or to toil away on the old homestead. 

As for quality meat these days? It’s hard to find 100% grass fed meat.. you can… but it hasn’t become readily available and it’s more expensive. Even some of the healthier options easily available to us are from animals that were grazed on grass until the last 3 months of their lives, whereupon they are switched over to grain in order to fatten them up. ( This is another topic, but are we paying attention? Did you catch the part about being switched over to grain to fatten them up?)  So while as a culture and a nation we were getting fatter and fatter while eating less and less fat, what were we being told to eat? Pasta, whole grain breads, bagels, cereal, blah blah blah. In a word? Grains. Starchy carbs. Sugar. (I know that’s actually 3 words… but really, as for the impact on the body, they pretty much are the same… they raise blood sugar and insulin levels).

I also still see people who prefer margarine and fake butter-like substances over real butter, the best of which are made from the cream from grass fed cows(like Kerrygold). In case anyone out there has missed this and is still repeating to themselves the old mantra to eat low-fat margarine, take a look at what margarine really is (from Mark at Primal Blueprint):

Margarine was originally developed as a cheap substitute for butter, and has evolved from some fairly unappealing animal-based ingredients into a vegetable-oil based spread with added chemicals that make it more flavorful and easier to spread. To achieve that solid, spreadable consistency, margarine manufacturers hydrogenate vegetable oil, creating unhealthy compounds that may contribute to heart disease and stroke. In addition, the heat and chemicals used to harden vegetable oils produce trans-fatty acids (TFAs), which can contribute to heart disease, increase cancer risks, promote inflammation and accelerate tissue degeneration.

OK…. now for Dr. Andrew Weil’s welcome comments:

Low-Fat Foods – Are They Better?

Published: 7/18/2012

A search for the term “fat-free” in the grocery section on Amazon.com brings up 3,386 products; “low-fat” yields 3,597. That’s a vast array of food products in which no- or low-fat content is touted as a virtue. Many of them compensate for the fat’s absence with extra sugar, corn syrup or other added sweeteners.

But the fact is, there appears to be very little hard evidence that saturated fat – long reviled as the worst of the fats for heart health – really does raise heart disease risk. A review of studies supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada concluded that there was “insufficient evidence of association” between saturated fat intake and risk of heart disease. Instead, it singled out foods with a high glycemic load – that is, sugar- and processed-carbohydrate-laden foods – in raising cardiovascular disease risk.

Government and industry have used shaky science to demonize natural fats and promote fat-free dairy products, processed grains and sweeteners. The fact is that natural fats and fat sources such as extra-virgin olive oil, butter, oily cold-water fish and even an occasional grass-fed, grass-finished steak are all good for you if eaten moderately as part of a low-glycemic-load diet. They supply essential fatty acids and a feeling of fullness, while helping to keep blood sugar levels, insulin and whole-body inflammation levels low and steady. No one’s health is improved by swapping out natural saturated or monounsaturated fats for skim milk, sugars or processed grains.

As I said…. Hip-Hip-Hooray!! So let’s try to stop eating so much bread, cereal, crackers, pasta, and meat, fish or fowl from animals fed unnatural diets and raised in confined animal feeding operations. (Check out Food, Inc. if you haven’t already).

Posted in Food Fight and Health Wars, Foundations of Health | Leave a comment

Awareness and a Quick Response

This is good stuff… (thanks Sue Gaden Preece!). It’s worth noting and saving, if for nothing other than figuring out natural, non- toxic ways to keep your garden healthy. It’s one strike against toxic giants like Monsanto, and if enough people figured this out and used these ideas instead of things like Round-up,  maybe it would start to weaken the erosion of our food freedom and supply.

I’d love this article if only for the vinegar the author suggests to put on the dreaded horsetail weed that’s in my yard. This weed is a NIGHTMARE. Nothing fazes it, and if you try to pull it out, it breaks off at the nearest joint (about every 2 inches) and then comes roaring back.

Moles? Some might think that her suggestions are too much of a pain and better to just use a trap. But if you’ve ever dealt with moles before, you know that they’ll return, and you’re back at square one. Deterring them would be great… I wonder if these suggestions will work? Guess I’ll just have to give it a try.

I also can attest to the fact that the recipe she gives to repel rabbits probably works too, as it sounds just like the smelly stuff called “liquid fence”… pheeeeew! Everywhere I’ve sprayed that stuff, the rabbits have stayed away.

The problem is, my yard is big, and I’m not sure spraying liquid fence around the whole perimeter every week or two is practical. I’m really worried about the number of bunnies I’ve been seeing lately…. and not just in my yard, but even when I go for my walk.

When I saw the first bunny and realized it was probably living under my deck, I found it kind of cute and entertaining. Then it ate my newly planted autumn ferns and anemones….. and my charming, newly planted vegetable garden looks like it’s in prison with chicken wire all around it. Now I’m not thinking the rabbit is so cute or entertaining.

Last week I saw two bunnies frolicking together for a couple of days and I think I may already have blown it as far as the author’s fantastic advice in her opening: “I’ve found that awareness and a quick response are two of the best allies against garden foes”.

Very good advice, and similar to what we should all say about our bodies too. Being aware and mounting a quick response….. how many times have I responded too late and let a cold or contact dermatitis “set in”, and then really struggled at trying to keep it from developing into something worse?

Actually? I’m going to change that from very good advice to excellent advice.

35 Pest and Disease Remedies

Turn to your pantry and medicine cabinet for simple solutions to common garden problems

by Sharon Lovejoy

I’ve found that awareness and a quick response are two of the best allies against garden foes. By knowing my plants, as well as their pests and diseases, I can be proactive in combatting garden ailments.

When problems do arise, I turn to the most benign and natural forms of control, like hand-picking invaders, setting up barriers, or trimming problem areas off plants. If these interventions fail, I apply my easy homemade potions to treat my gardens, keeping in mind the welfare of the soil and the dwellers who share the earth with me.

Anyone walking into my potting area is liable to find four or five mixtures of fertilizer brews and oddball pest blends fermenting in tubs, along with a strange collection of tools and utensils. It is not the aftermath of some cataclysmic disaster; it is my laboratory, my living library, and the makings for a healthy garden.

For more articles on this topic, check out our section on pests and diseases.

Before you begin… Continue reading

Posted in Into the Garden, Self-sufficiency (You Can Do It!) | Leave a comment

Have Another Green Smoothie!

My last post was on spring cleaning your liver with green smoothies and also roasted beets. (sorry again about the small charts, but between the pictures and my written explanation, you should get the picture).

I made a really bright green smoothie yesterday morning for my husband and son…. I threw the proverbial kitchen sink in there…. but I still followed the formula (doubling up sometimes), and it turned out great. Very tasty, as well as healthy!

Here are a couple more recipes for smoothies that I think you’ll like… they’re from Andrea Livingston at Phytofoods.blogspot.com and I think you’ll see that they make use of the combinations in my last post (pick your base, your greens,  your fruit, your boost (s), and sweetener if necessary. Also, if you have a healthy source…. a raw egg from healthy pastured chickens is a nutritious addition).

Green Smoothie


GREENS GREENS GREENS

Can we talk about green smoothies?
If you don’t know already, green smoothies are a fantastic way to get a good serving of fruits and most importantly greens into your diet and your child’s diet. Greens are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. If you would like to know more about green smoothies please read Victoria Boutenko’s book Green for Life. She also wrote an important article talking about the benefits of green smoothies that can be found on her website at:
Here are a few of my favorite facts from her article:
1. Green smoothies are very nutritious and easy to digest. When blended well, all the valuable nutrients in these fruits and veggies become homogenized, or divided into such small particles that it becomes easy for the body to assimilate these nutrients, the green smoothie literally starts to get absorbed in your mouth.
2. Green smoothies are a complete food because they still have the fiber.
3. By consuming two to three cups of green smoothie daily you will consume enough greens for the day to nourish your body, and they will be well assimilated. Many people do not consume enough green leafy vegetables.
4. Green smoothies are easy to make, and quick to clean up after.
5. Green smoothies are perfect food for children of all ages including babies of six or more months and great for introducing after mother’s milk.
This article pretty much says it all. If you are worried about your child meeting their nutrient needs, especially during times of sickness or food protest, please try the green smoothie. There are numerous recipes for a good smoothie. Here is my favorite:
2 mangoes
1 cup parsley
3-4 kale leaves
1-2 cups water or coconut juice
1 frozen banana
3-5 ice cubes
1/2 lime juiced
pinch of sea salt
Place chopped mango, kale and parsley in a blender. Add coconut juice or water along with ice cubes, lime and banana. Blend until the mixture is smooth. A normal blender will require longer blending times. Also, make sure the thicker stem/rib parts of the kale are removed before blending if you do not own a Vitamix or Blendtec blender (recommended if you are going to do this everyday).

Afternoon Delight

It has been soooo hot here in Portland (mid to high 90’s). In between camps, swimming pool runs, hikes, bike rides, gardening and work I often find myself needing a little afternoon pick me up. I went to my refrigerator today and found a huge containter of blueberries waiting for me (a common sight in our home during Portland berry season). I threw together this smoothie and it definitely did the trick! Blueberries and cacao are of course high in antioxidants and the coconut water is a great electrolyte replacer. In this particular smoothie I added coconut butter for a creamy consistency. You could also use almond butter or a banana and it would taste great! Enjoy!Afternoon Delight Smoothie
2 cups coconut juice
1 cup blueberries
1-2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or organic cocoa powder)
1 cup ice
1/2 vanilla bean or a dash of vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon coconut butter or almond butter
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
pinch of sea salt

Blend until smooth

Posted in What to Eat and How to Cook | 2 Comments

Spring Cleaning (your liver!)

Last Tuesday (the 20th) was the First Day of Spring, and although it doesn’t seem like it as I look outside, well … YAY!

This is a great time of year to give your body a good “spring cleaning”… you’ve probably heard about all kinds of cleanses (and there are many different levels of them… some very intense), here’s a really basic, simple way to give your body a bit of a break and boost it’s ability to “self-clean” (HA! Kind of like the self-cleaning feature on your oven..).

I found these graphics that I really like…. the problem is that I can’t read the fine print, even WITH a magnifying glass and I can’t figure out how to make it bigger.

So I’ll write what is says… kind of lame, I know, but I think the graphics simplify things so much and give you some creative ideas on how to mix things up.

So…. to interpret

CHART#1

Choose 8-10 oz. of your BASE: either coconut water (for athletic performance),or green tea (for energy), or water (for weight loss).

Add GREENS:  2 cups of leafy greens or 1-2 TBSP of superfood green powder like spirulina

Add HEALTHY FATS, FIBER & FRUIT: 1 TBSP coconut oil (1/2 an avocado is a healthy fat too), plus 1 TBSP of fiber like chia seeds, and 1 cup of organic fruit such as blueberries.

Add a BOOST: OK… I can’t read anything it says other than those items would be bee pollen, raw cacao, or raw maca….. I guess to taste.

Add SWEETENER: 1 TBSP of a sweetner such as agave, raw honey or pure stevia (However… I recently spent a full 3 day conference that revolved mostly around sugar, and I’d say you can ditch the agave (hard to find without major chemical processing, which cancels out any benefit you might get) and somewhat ditto with the stevia (search out a good source if you want it, like one from Body Ecology). Organic honey is good or real maple syrup or plain sugar… not great, but not so bad unless over-used… which is, of course, our big problem).

i

CHART #2

Choose your LEAVES: kale, silverbeet, swiss chard, spinach, romaine lettuce or watercress… no amount given, so I guess you can be creative.

Choose your BASE: filtered water, and/or coconut water and/or organic apple juice

Choose some FRUIT: whatever you like, although this chart doesn’t add any sweetener, so it looks like they are adding sweeter fruit such as banana, mango,  kiwis and pears.

Add some KICK: spirulina and/or marine phytoplankton and/or maca powder and/or bee pollen

Blend til smooth… drink right away.

And DO remember this!

BEETS provide excellent support for the liver (which is SO involved with the hard work of cleansing our blood, day in and day out). So find a way to add them to your diet… (here’s a recipe from The World’s Healthiest Foods which you can check out at whfoods.org  )

Roasted Beets

Roasting is one of the best way to cook beets, as it brings out their wonderful buttery flavor. This easy-to-prepare, healthy recipe does just that.

Roasted Beets Prep and Cook Time: 7 minutes/ 55 minutesIngredients:

  • 6 small whole beets
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 TBS coarsely chopped walnuts
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Wash beets well and place in a baking dish just big enough to hold beets, and onions without crowding them. If onions are small, just leave whole with skin on. If they are medium sized, cut in half leaving the skin on.
  2. Cover and roast for about 55 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you can slide tip of sharp knife into the center of the beets fairly easily. Remove from oven.
  3. When beets and onions have cooled enough to handle, peel and cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with vinegar, olive, oil, garlic, and chopped walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Top with chopped parsley.
Posted in Foundations of Health, What to Eat and How to Cook | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Plastic and You

It really is scary that we’ve become so dependent upon plastic, particularly in the way we store and cook our food. Think about it… plastic coated pans to cook with, plastic utensils to stir the food we’re cooking, plastic containers to microwave in, and plastic film to cover our food.

What about plastic water bottles, plastic storage containers to put our food in, plastic coated milk cartons, cereal box liners…. if one stops to actually think about it, it’s overwhelming. ( To say nothing of the fact that all of our hygiene and personal care items are stored in plastic as well.)

My challenge to myself has been to get rid of teflon utensils and pans ( I use the ceramic coated, stainless, and cast iron now) and to replace plastic storage containers with glass ones. Message to self… be careful of the quality of your pans, how high you heat your food, and don’t store hot food in plastic!

I have a really good water filter, so I don’t buy plastic bottles of water, although I admit that my son and daughter-in-law gave me a really cool present at Christmas that allows me to make my own sparkling water… of course, it’s made and stored in a plastic bottle.  I’ll have to give that one some thought, although I think the number one concern is when it involves heated or warm food and drinks.

And Hey! We shouldn’t drink water from plastic bottles that have been left in our hot cars either. (Not that I’m mentioning any names…. ahem…. you know who you are). Seriously, just think of all of those bad chemicals leaching out… into US!

Is anyone concerned by the fact that plastic can be found in our blood? Does anyone think this is normal? Who knows the long term consequences for something like this? Common sense would say this is  probably not a good idea and to take precautions.

As for me, the biggest thing I have a problem finding a substitute for are the little baggies and plastic film used for storage. Washing glass containers and lids is kind of a drag, but in addition to the health issues, think of all the plastic baggies that are casually thrown away by each of us every day.

I’m throwing down a challenge to myself and to all of you…. how about if we all try to make it a challenge to get the most plastic that we can out of our lives? Is it possible to not buy anything with plastic for a month? A week??… A day???! Try it… it’s a lot harder than you might think.

So….following is a great trailer for the movie The Plastic Planet. The thing that made me cringe the most was the baby with the binkie in her mouth who then drinks from a plastic bottle and nipple…. so bad… and made worse if the milk is actually heated when put into the plastic bottle.

A Plastic Planet … WINNER! 2010 German Environment Media Award (click on the link below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7X-J1DhfjE&feature=youtu.be

Here’s a good, more in depth article found at Livestrong.com, which will give you lots of specifics.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/136770-dangerous-chemicals-plastic-bottles/#ixzz1mZC3qFzU

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1 1/2 Hours… Are You Kidding Me?

Oh! I just made a plane reservation and may have to postpone for a day so I can do this! Honestly, I took a series of classes from these guys a few years ago and they were AWESOME! If you don’t live in Portland… search out a similar venue. They must be available.

1 1/2 hours?? Obviously, you can’t learn everything there is to know, but seriously, there’s just no way that you can lose on this.

http://tilth.org/education-research/organic-education-center/class-postings/plan-a-productive-garden-1

Posted in Into the Garden, Reconnect with Your Food, Self-sufficiency (You Can Do It!) | Leave a comment

Muscle Mass…Here Are Some Pictures to Make an Impression!

Wow! I guess I better start adding more EXERCISE to my life. Running, swimming, biking, walking, weight lifting….anything and everything. I know this applies to all ages (and better late than never), but for the 20/30 somethings? You haven’t lost muscle mass yet, and look what you can keep!

These pictures compare quadriceps muscle mass in an active 40-year-old triathlete, a sedentary 74-year-old man, and an active 70-year-old triathlete. The picture of the 74 year old man’s muscle mass and fat tissue was creepy, and the study finds that these results are not due to muscle aging as much as they are due to chronic muscle disuse.

Click the link…

http://sweatscience.com/the-incredible-unaging-triathlete/

Posted in Exercise | 2 Comments