Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)


Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Power of Sprouts

Many do not realize the healing power of sprouts but the founder of the Hippocrates Health institute, Ann Wigmore, dedicated her life to rediscover the healing and culinary properties of sprouts. Her institute treated people, over many years, for many different disorders. Sprouts were found to contribute extensively to the immune system, as excellent detoxifiers. Being biogenic, sprouts are attributed rejuvenation qualities (creative life force). This contributes to the vitality and stamina experienced by thousands who consume them regularly. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and relevant enzymes to assist its digestion.
Sprout History
Medicinally and nutritionally, sprouts have a long history. It has been written that the Ancient Chinese physicians recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders over 5,000 years ago.
In the 1700's, sailors were riddled by scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) and suffered heavy casualties during their two to three year voyages until Captain James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties of sprouts; all abundant holders of Vitamin C. These were, predominantly, were credited for preventing the mariners' casualties.

It is really only in the past thirty years or so that "westerners" have become interested in sprouts and sprouting. During World War II, Dr.. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. Dr. McKay led off with this dramatic announcement: "Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a ... chop." Dr. McKay was talking about soybean sprouts. He and a team of nutritionists had spent years researching the amazing properties of sprouted soybeans. They found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big jump in Vitamin A and an almost unbelievable amount of Vitamin C over that present in unsprouted seeds. While some nutritionists point out that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss (conversely, the protein actually becomes more bio-available), the figures are impressive: an average 300 percent increase in Vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in Vitamin C. In addition, in the sprouting process starches are converted to simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.

*Always choose organic seeds for sprouting to avoid genetically modified seeds as well as any chemical residues.

Health Benefits Galore
I often recommend using sprouts in the daily diet of my clients as an easy power-packed addition to any meal – particularly for people who have a hard time getting in their daily recommended intake of vegetables. Sprouts are one of the few fast foods that are healthy and they’re delightfully easy to incorporate into the diet. If, for instance, you often have eggs and toast for breakfast– accompany with a handful of sprouts to enhance your vegetable intake for the day. Or use a variety of them instead of salad greens in the colder season for a meal that’s more nutrient-rich and less work for your digestive system.

Be sure to explore beyond the standard alfalfa sprouts; some of my favourites include: broccoli, garlic, clover, rasdish, sunflower and mixed bean sprouts, available at local supermarkets in the produce section. At home you can extend the variety even further with mung sprouts (traditionally found in Chinese cuisine), fenugreek, mustard (spicy!), flax and many more. The possibilities are endless; you can sprout just about every grain, seed, nut or legume endowed with the potential for the next generation of new plant life. In general you will see the increase of fibre and chlorophyll (which is itself rich in nutrients and health-giving properties such as magnesium), 15-30% more protein, a variety of enzymes, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A’s precursor), B complex (especially heart-friendly Niacin and Riboflavin), Vitamin C, E, K calcium, phosphorous and iron, though mineral content does not increase as much as the vitamins do.  All that and the vital energy within the sprouts are tranfered to your body when you eat them. 
We all need alittle more of that, don't we?
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Some of the results of adding sprouts to the diet include: weight loss, improved hormone balance (including improved thyroid function and PMS symptoms), general body cleanse/detoxification, improved digestion & liver function and even the prevention of many of our culture’s most prevalent diseases; osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease.
Alfalfa sprouts, soybeans, clover and oilseeds (such as flaxseed) are the most significant dietary sources of the phytoestrogens such as isoflavones, coumestans, and lignans, respectively. Studies in humans, animals and cell culture systems suggest that these dietary phytoestrogens play an important role in prevention of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. _________________________________________________

Sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. We can sprout all year round and benefit from their low-calorie, high-nutrient density which supports an improved metabolism – great for those trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. They also provide the nutrients of leafy greens when they are not in-season. And the amount of nourishment per dollar surpasses most any other food – so they’re also very economical for those of us who are watching our budgets a little more closely these days.

A great website for getting started at home is: http://www.sproutpeople.com/index.html but all you really need to start is a few seeds and a jar with a lid with some holes punched in it and some filtered water. Different seeds require different treatment and time to sprout (see website for details)

Enjoy and be better-nourished!
Lisa Marie

3 comments:

  1. okay I have some questions. :)
    First, where would you recommend buying organic seeds for sprouting? Or is there a brand you trust? I would really liket to try this, becuase I have been eating lots of sprouts.
    Secondly, I am confused about sprouting in reference to "sprouted" breads. This might be a big question, but I have been reading recipes that call for sprouted "fill in grain here" and dont have a clue how this is done.

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  2. Hello Deb,
    Thanks for your question. Westcoast seeds http://www.westcoastseeds.com/ is a great resource for obtaining 'seeds' for growing or sprouting. I've also purchased random seeds from Choices before (ie: fenugreek or sunflower - in the shells) and sprouted them.
    I've also sprouted almonds, quinoa (very easy!) and mung beans (also quite easy and fast).
    *If you're worried about bacteria just use some raw apple cider vinegar in the water you soak/rinse the seeds with.

    Save yourself some good size glass jars and puncture their lids with several holes. Soak the seeds/nuts/beans/grains overnight (some need 24 hours) and then drain and rinse several times a day until they grow a 'tail'. Keep rinsing diligently until you are satisfied that the sprouting is adequate...and enjoy! (More details found at the Sprout People link that I referenced in my post.)

    Sprouting seeds for bread is much more of a process. I believe they first sprout, then dehydrate then grind into flour. Not for the faint of heart! ;/

    Check out a fellow foodie's website www.seedofplenty.com for yummy, holistic sprouted grain products and info.
    LM~

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  3. I wash 3 time my buckwheat seeds and let go what floats.....in a large container with lid on....on the 3 days i take it out of the dark...put it in refrigerator and change the cover every day...BINGO

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