Food as fuel and medicine

Food as Fuel and Medicine

This is something I think about often. I’m in the middle of reading several books on the topic. Yes, there are conflicting ideas out there and only more time will tell which is the best approach … if there is a best approach. It’s more likely that there are a few best approaches. The data is heavily leaning away from the current American diet of highly processed and refined foods, low fat, high carbohydrate diet. It can be difficult to embrace a new way of eating for fear it is the latest fad and will be replaced by some new thing soon. However, it seems we have tested most of the combinations so far, after all, there are only so many food groups! A friend sent me a link to this article from CBS Sports about a change in nutrition for NBA athletes. I think NBA athletes have a lot in common with us. They need to get as much out of their body as possible. Those with autoimmune issues are trying to get the most out of our bodies with as little pain and fatigue as possible. Shockingly, according to the article, the NBA is not known for it’s good nutrition. These athletes struggle with injuries and surgeries yet are not giving their bodies the food they need to rebuild and repair!

 

This sentence really struck me! “We’re making the shift from basically worse than pet food to actual food,” Cate Shanahan said. Worse than pet food? Money is not an obstacle for these folks. Knowledge is!

With Howard, the intervention began where it does with most athletes (and non-athletes, for that matter) who need to change their diets. It began with sugar. It turned out that Howard was consuming the equivalent of 24 Hershey bars a day in the form of candy and soda — not to mention the additional sugar his body was making out of all the empty starches he was eating.

It was bad. At Cate Shanahan’s request, Howard had undergone a blood screening that revealed a frighteningly pathological profile. His glucose readings were through the roof, much higher than they should have been for a ripped, 27-year-old professional athlete who used to call himself Superman.

Howard was struggling to return to form after back surgery the previous spring, and was wrestling with the enormous pressure of whether to re-sign with the Lakers as a free agent. Cate Shanahan believed his performance and recovery were being seriously compromised by his poor diet. She saw the telltale signs of sugar addiction — spikes in energy followed by crashes and erratic motor skills that were indicative of nerves misfiring.

With diet modifications, Howard’s bloodwork is now much improved in a very short time. He avoids sugar, all processed foods, vegetable, canola, and corn oils. In contrast the current government food pyramid, these professional athletes now get at least 50% of their calories from healthy fats! The Lakers now only eat grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and pigs that are eating natural diet rather than fed on corn. If you want to learn more about the nutrition plan, read Dr. Shanahan’s book “Deep Nutrition.” I have just ordered on my Kindle and will review it at a later date. If you read several of the nutrition to fight autoimmune disease books, it’s the same nutrition plan. We, just like athletes, need to give our bodies the fuel it needs to repair damage done by autoimmune disease  and allow us to lead normal lives! Processed foods, too much sugar, vegetable, corn, canola oils are thought to all contribute to inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of heart disease. If you have autoimmune disease, inflammation is your middle name. If you’re trying to get optimal performance out of your body to jump higher and run faster, you want inflammation at a minimal to build and repair tissues. “”I’ve definitely noticed my joints aren’t as sore, aren’t as stiff when I wake up when I don’t eat the bad oils,” Kaman said.” That’s music to anyone’s ears! It will certainly be interested to see how all this plays out in the big leagues. Stay tuned….

 

Let Food and Fitness Be Thy Medicine

I have been coming to terms with my diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome and what it means for my active lifestyle. I have found that nutrition and fitness are critical to my quality of life.  A friend, Cassidy Bowie, posted the following in the hopes of motivating others to look deeper at their nutrition and their fitness – to live a life of high quality!  I was so moved by her post, I just had to share it with you. She has graciously given me permission. (edit: You can now follow Cassidy’s journey at her blog.)

“I was asked to share my story recently to help encourage others here it is for my friends and family here to read :

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
– Goethe

Shortly after my 21st birthday, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. This blow was hard to handle as I had been very sick for some time and being diagnosed with both at such a young age was a hard pill to swallow. For the next eight years of my life I became very ill and spent a lot of time at the hospital. Lupus and RA were controlling my life. I had numerous surgeries, blood clots, and a detached retina. All of this in a short amount of time. I used to joke if you looked at my medical history and file, without looking at my age, you would think I was someone much older. I went through trying, I can’t even count, many different medicines in order to try and control the two diseases and the damage they were causing to my system. I finally reached a point about three years ago when I decided that living miserably with everything wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life anymore. I had been so sick that I could barely walk most days. I had difficulty walking to the grocery store; I was given a handicapped placard so that I was able to park closer to everything so walking wouldn’t be a hindrance in my daily activities. This was a lifestyle that was hard to handle, being constantly sick and in pain. Not begin able to walk very far without being miserable.

I had a friend who encouraged me to run Tough Mudder. For those of who don’t know what Tough Mudder is, this race is a 10-12 obstacle course race. In my condition many thought of this feat as ridiculous. How can someone who could barely walk at times, and suffer so much pain just walking be able to finish a race like this? I set my mind to it and was able to achieve this race with my brother Alex and amazing friend Shannon by my side. I will never forget as I was almost in tears at the last few miles of the race my brother telling me big girls don’t cry we are going to do this I don’t care how long it takes. I crossed the finish line and broke down in tears, with my best friend Nikki and her mom there cheering me on. I was hurting after this amazing feat and at that point decided that I didn’t want to live my life suffering anymore. I needed to make changes to my life in order to live better.

With the help of a great friend and gym member Nicole Davis, I decided to completely change my eating style. Paleo diet is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that humans consumed during the Paleolithic era. This lifestyle change allows you to go back to the basics of eating real food. I decided that going cold turkey and cutting out all the crap of my current diet was the way to go. I went home and cleaned out my cupboards, I got rid of all the processed foods, grains, and dairy products. I donated what I could and gave other items to friends. This started my lifestyle change into a better living. I also began working out six days a week. I began with bootcamp style workouts and running ( a lot). With these lifestyle changes I saw my Lupus and RA symptoms diminish and started feeling better than any medicine would be able to provide to me. I was able to improve my athletic ability and overall health state. With all of these changes, my Lupus specialist is now able to take me off the toxic medicines that I have been on for so long. I decided to take the natural approach to living and a better lifestyle overall. This change was not easy by any means but it meant living a healthier life. This past summer I was able to compete in a total of 25 races, a monumental achievement considering where I was just a short three years ago. These 25 races included 3 half marathons, Spartan races, Tough Mudder, and a Ragnar.

I truly have my lifestyle changes of diet and exercise to thank for being able to achieve this crazy goal of so many races in a year. I have become a much different person and able to do things I never thought possible when I was sick. These lifestyle changes are going to allow me to live a healthier, longer, and happier life. My story needs to be shared so that people who are going through a hard and difficult time are able to see light at the end of the tunnel. This will allow hope and encouragement reach those who are effected by illness, discouragement, or doubt in their life. Next year I have many more goals that I plan on achieving. Now that I know I am capable of achieving what I put my mind to there is no stopping me.”

 

 

The Holiday Edge – Day 2 CORE!!!!!!!

It’s day 2 of Shaun T’s The Holiday Edge!  Today, it’s all about focusing on the CORE and working those abdominal muscles! Food of the day is one of Shaun’s  favorites and mine as well…AVOCADO! It’s a nutritious fat that you should be eating daily. Get the full breakdown as part of the complete FOOD GUIDE at Shaun T’s Holiday Edge Food blog! /h3>
 

One of my favorite recipes with avocado is to make chocolate pudding! You can use a chocolate protein powder or Chocolate Shakeology!

chocoshakeopudding

Another staple in my house is guacamole!

For other tasty avocado treats, check out more recipes at Nom Nom Paleo. I have made her avocado and basil dressing that is in her Nom Nom Paleo iPad app. It is delicious! You can use it as mayonnaise or salad dressing. It’s very versatile. This Chilled Cream of Avocado Soup with Dungeness Crab sounds amazing! Let me know if you try it!

 

The Canary is Gasping for Air …

I fear that we will soon have new job offerings in the United States – that of hand pollinator. The news is dire for the Monarch butterfly and our honeybees. Are these species the proverbial canary in the coal mine? China is already using hand pollination for it’s apple orchards due to a decline in honeybees as evidenced in this article from February 2012 in China Dialogue, “Decline of bees forces China’s apple farmers to pollinate by hand.”

Farming and human health depend upon the ecosystem services provided by wild organisms; worms, woodlice, millipedes and a host of other creatures which help with soil formation, forests to produce oxygen, prevent soil erosion and regulate water flow, birds to eat insect pests, flies and beetles to break down animal dung, bees and other pollinators to pollinate crops.

Modern farming threatens to eradicate these organism, and so undermine itself.

Pollination provides one of the clearest examples of how our disregard for the health of the environment threatens our own survival. About 75% of all crop species require pollination by animals of some sort, often by bees, but sometimes by flies, butterflies, birds or even bats.

Crop pollination by insects has been estimated to be worth $14.6 billion to the economy of the USA and £440 million a year to the UK. Some pollination is done by domesticated honeybees, but the bulk of pollination of most crops is done by wild insects, including many species of wild bee such as bumblebees.

In the UK, for example, recent studies suggest that about one-third of pollination is delivered by honeybees, the rest being carried out by a range of wild insects. These animals need undisturbed places to nest, and flowers to feed on when the crops are not flowering.

However, bee diversity has declined markedly in Europe, with many species disappearing from much of their former range, and some species going extinct. The UK alone has lost three species of native bumblebee, and six more are listed as endangered. Four bumblebee species have gone extinct from the whole of Europe, and there is good evidence for similar declines in North America and China.

 

You may be wondering how this is related to my promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle on my blog. As I have grown older (I’m now 46yrs old) and now that my body is being attacked by it’s own immune system (Sjogren’s Syndrome), nutrition has become even more important to my health, longevity and quality of life. On any given day, you can read an article about how our adulterated food supply system is negatively impacting our health directly and thought to be at the root of many autoimmune diseases along with environmental contamination by heavy metals. Well folks, it’s also indirectly impacting out health. Increased destruction of habitats for housing developments, increased production of monocrops, increased used of pesticides and herbicides, have upset the ecological balance. We are losing pollinators at an alarming rate. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.small-wholefoods-bees-releasephoto

 

“The before-and-after photo (above) is shocking – as are the statistics. Whole Foods Market’s produce team pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products – 52 percent of the normal product mix in the department. Among the removed products were some of the most popular produce items:

Apples
Onions
Avocados
Carrots
Mangos
Lemons
Limes
Honeydew
Cantaloupe
Zucchini
Summer squash
Eggplant
Cucumbers
Celery
Green onions
Cauliflower
Leeks
Bok choy
Kale
Broccoli
Broccoli rabe
Mustard greens

– See more at: http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/news/bees#sthash.iCjhnglR.dpuf”

 

 

This may be our future.

The most dramatic example comes from the apple and pear orchards of south west China, where wild bees have been eradicated by excessive pesticide use and a lack of natural habitat.

In recent years, farmers have been forced to hand-pollinate their trees, carrying pots of pollen and paintbrushes with which to individually pollinate every flower, and using their children to climb up to the highest blossoms. This is clearly just possible for this high-value crop, but there are not enough humans in the world to pollinate all of our crops by hand.

And what about my beloved Monarch butterfly? It’s not just beautiful to look at, but it’s long, annual migration to Mexico has intrigued people for ages. It too is a pollinator. The news about this years winter migration to Mexico is bleak, as reported in the New York Times today. Official numbers will be published in March 2014.

ON the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.

This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.

That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States.

“There’s no question that the loss of habitat is huge,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who has long warned of the perils of disappearing insects. “We notice the monarch and bees because they are iconic insects,” he said. “But what do you think is happening to everything else?”

There you go, the canary is gasping for air.

Native trees are not only grocery stores, but insect pharmacies as well. Trees and other plants have beneficial chemicals essential to the health of bugs. Some monarchs, when afflicted with parasites, seek out more toxic types of milkweed because they kill the parasites. Bees use medicinal resins from aspen and willow trees that are antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral, to line their nests and to fight infection and diseases. “Bees scrape off the resins from the leaves, which is kind of awesome, stick them on their back legs and take them home,” said Dr. Spivak.

Besides pesticides and lack of habitat, the other big problem bees face is disease. But these problems are not separate. “Say you have a bee with viruses,” and they are run-down, Dr. Spivak said. “And they are in a food desert and have to fly a long distance, and when you find food it has complicated neurotoxins and the immune system just goes ‘uh-uh.’ Or they become disoriented and can’t find their way home. It’s too many stressors all at once.”

We are living in our own food desert and it will only get worse if we do not act now. It is not too late!

There are numerous organizations and individuals dedicated to rebuilding native plant communities one sterile lawn and farm field at a time. Dr. Tallamy, a longtime evangelizer for native plants, and the author of one of the movement’s manuals, “Bringing Nature Home,” says it’s a cause everyone with a garden or yard can serve. And he says support for it needs to develop quickly to slow down the worsening crisis in biodiversity.

I have ordered Bringing Nature Home and plan to add more native plants to support our pollinators. I have a garden full of Milkweed Plants (be careful if you have pets that might eat this). We had numerous Monarch butterflies and raised 30+ caterpillars to butterfly-hood. I even increased my number and variety of milkweed this year and sadly, did not get a single Monarch. I saw very few honeybees this year as well. It was mostly bumblebees. So order the book and let’s have a discussion about what we can do to save them and ourselves. For more info about honeybees, check out the Whole Foods’ Share the Buzz.

_______________________________
References
https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/5193
http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/news/bees

Are your energy levels low? Are you tired and sluggish?

Are you suffering from a lack of energy?

I too suffered from a lack of energy. I would wake up wondering how I would get through the day, caring for my young children. Fortunately, a friend recommended P90X. From there I slowly started working on my nutrition, based on the nutrition guide, and my energy levels improved by leaps and bounds! That is why is just makes my heart sing when I can pay it forward and do the same for someone else.

“For the last 3-4 weeks I have been having Shakeology in the am 3-4 times a week. I decided not to take it on vacation…big mistake….HUGE… I can really feel the difference in my energy level. It is low and sluggish. I did not take it because I had ordered the big bag and did not want it to spill. Changing order to the individual packages so it will not happen again. Also decided to try the vanilla as well.”

Nutrition is so important. Don’t accept that fatigue is a normal part of the aging process or simply due to a busy life. Look at what you’re eating and make small changes and begin to nourish your body!

 

I received this post from one of my Focus T25 Challengers today!

 

“I started week 5 yesterday with total body. I still had the energy to complete the workout despite my two days off. My weight remains the same, however, I can move my watch to the next loop hole, my thighs or becoming smaller, my legs are toned, and my clothes are becoming loose. Not giving up just because the scale is not moving like I want it to. I continue to have a lot of energy, I can perform the moves faster and with better form, and I’m not taking a long nap after work, I’m sleeping through the night and waking up ready to go the next morning. I also notice I can return home and perform physical activities, such as, picking up the pine cones in my yard after my workout or after a long day of shopping. In the past I would usually sit lay down and go to sleep. So Alpha round almost completed getting ready for Beta.”

 

Can you change your life in FOUR WEEKS???? HECK YES!!! This is what it is all about! Sure it’s great to fit into that dress or bathing suit, but ultimately, it’s about QUALITY of LIFE!!! Sleeping well, feeling great, doing household tasks with ease, I got all teary eyed just reading this. This truely is what Beachbody is all about! These are the changes that keep you playing the game for the long haul rather than quitting once you reach that short term goal of fitting into that dress or bathing suit!

 

And here is another one!

 

“I am down 7.2 lbs, 2 inches from waist, and 1 inch from arms. Feeling good:) loving my shakeology with almond milk banana. Yes but honestly I don’t look much different:) however I feel so much better. I have a lot on my shoulders right now and I so happy I started this program it has helped tremendously with coping. That’s my real reward:)”

Should you be worried about Olive Oil Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog post about the adulteration of olive oil, I gave you some reasons for caring about the quality of your olive oil. Assuming you do care, you will want to determine if your favorite olive oil is an imposter or the real thing.

All of the websites I’ve read, said the first step is the fridge test. The fridge test won’t prove that your EVOO is pure, but it will indicate if it’s been cut with poly-unsaturated oils.

Pure monounsaturated fat, also known as oleic acid, solidifies at 39 degrees F. Since olive oil is primarily oleic acid (about 70-85 percent, generally), sticking a bottle of real olive oil in the fridge should elicit solidification. The original olive oil adulterants, sunflower oil and safflower oil, were mostly polyunsaturated, so adulterating olive oil used to be easy to spot. Now, with high-oleic sunflower oil, high-oleic safflower oil, and high-oleic canola oil on the scene, adulterated olive oil can still solidify in the fridge. Thus, the fridge test is still a necessary, but not sufficient, test for the legitimacy of your extra virgin olive oil. It’s really a test for the degree of monounsaturation in the oils. It’s important (toss any oils that fail the test), but it’s not the full story.

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-your-olive-oil-really-olive-oil/#ixzz2PigJtH8m

I decided to test three brands of Olive oil: Spectrum Organic EVOO, 100% Organic Colavita EVOO, and Filippo Berio EVOO. The Colavita EVOO states that it is Certified Authentic Product of Italy. “Obtained exclusively from olives harvested & pressed in Italy. The CERMET seal certifies the authenticity of Colavita EVOO. Colavita was the first Italian company to receive this important certification declaring it’s extra virgin olive oil as 100% Italian.” I put olive oil in three containers and set in the fridge over night. I did the test twice, switching around the containers. I got the same results both times as shown below.

The Spectrum Organic EVOO was completely liquid. There was not a fat globule to be found. The Berio EVOO had fat globules in it but it was still liquid. You can see some of the globules on the sides of the glass in the photo below. The Colavita EVOO was completely solid.

oliveoilexpbefore

My olive oils at the start of my experiment.

oilsfridge

My three olive oils after overnight in the fridge.

Mark, from Mark’s Daily Apple, whom I quoted above, suggests throwing out any EVOO which stays liquid over night in the fridge. I will keep it to clean my grill. Luckily, I only bought a small bottle of the Spectrum Organic. I use Spectrum’s Organic coconut oil which is now suspect as well. 8-(

My friend, Laurel Dodge (author of Nature Study for the Whole Family), had the following results:

Newman’s Own Organics: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (ingredients say extra virgin olive oil from Tunisia): cloudy and thickened.

Bertolli Olive Oil for Sautéing and Grilling: (ingredients say refined olive oils and virgin olive oils): clear and same consistency.

If you test your EVOO, be sure to post your results in the comments sections!

Upon further reading at Olive Oil Times, it gets even more muddied in that factors including the variety of olive used and the time of harvest will determine if the EVOO solidifies at cold temps.

The next step is a taste test. EVOO should have a spicy, pungent flavor. If you’re used to mild, adulterated EVOO, the good stuff might taste odd! Ultimately, Mark suggests to buy locally and know where your EVOO comes from!

The final advice from the Olive Oil Times?

Flynn advised viewers of the Dr. Oz show to check the harvest date on the olive oil bottle, and buy one indicating a harvest within the last 15 months to improve the chances of getting a good quality oil. He also recommended looking for quality seals on the bottles, such as the one from the California Olive Oil Council, that certify that the oil has passed chemistry and sensory criteria. Flynn noted that UC Davis is working on better methods of detecting olive oil fraud.