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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Healthy Fats - Part 1

Why is fat so misunderstood?  It is my opinion that our confusion has been bred in part by decades of mass marketing campaigns that lead us to believe that fat itself is our enemy.  We have seen a major shift since the 1970's toward a 'Low-Fat Revolution'.  And I think that this may be one of the single most damaging messages we've been exposed to in my lifetime.  I have seen people eat virtually no fat, striving for a virtually fat-free diet and they, inevitably, are suffering from all kinds of deficiencies and diseases as a result (more on that later).
Not only is the overall message to eat less fat but inevitably we are steered toward 'manufactured fats' or certainly those that are highly processed and therefore very unhealthy.  The result is major deficiencies of quality dietary fats such as (animal and plant sourced) saturated fat, unprocessed (vegetable sourced) polyunsaturated fats and essential fats (aka: essential fatty acids or omega 3/6/9, sourced largely from fish, nuts and seeds).

Infertility is just one of the 'diseases' that have become much more prevalent in the past decade, just as Multiple Sclerosis and Heart Disease and ADHD.  These diseases and many more, in my opinion, have some form of fat deficiency at their root, among other things.  In many cases though, positive dietary changes can reverse these major disease conditions in the body, using 'food as medicine' as the catalyst.

There is a statement I put in many of my nutritional recommendations to clients and that is:
"Your body wants to be in balance and is always trying to achieve it (it is programs into the very genes of every cell in your body). You simply have to give it the right fuel (appropriate whole foods, clean air and water) and allow it to do its amazing work. Part of that allowing is your trust in the process and letting go of any resistance in your body by using a daily practice of focused, deep breathing."

So the fat component of "appropriate whole foods" is; whole, natural fat - as nature intended.  We are, after all, part of the 'natural world' and so we get our most efficient, health promoting food from the 'natural world'.  The more it has deviated from that natural world the less our body recognizes it and thrives from it.  There are, however, methods of preparation that can healthfully alter natural food from its original state but that is done by way of natural method; ie: fermentation, natural preservation, dehydration, etc.

So, the truth about what constitutes a healthy food, including a healthy fat, is not really that complicated after all.  It just seems that way in a market-driven, food-manufacturing, falsified labeling-driven culture.  But once you let that all melt away and you only choose that which is produced in a healthy, sustainable, compassionate and respectful way, it's not all that difficult to sift through the garbage and find the 'gems'.

Here is a simple chart of the good and the bad (and the ugly in some cases)

Bad:                                                                      
Common refined vegetable oils(these are the majority of what you find at the grocery store and no one type is exempt)                         

Non-organic corn, canola or soy                          

Too much Sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed = too much inflammation-promoting    
Omega 6 in your diet                                            

Modified/hydrogenated anything = trans fats and inability to properly metabolize (ugly!)       

Non-organic butter (from factory-farmed, medicated, grain-fed cows)                                   
             
Good:

Unrefined or cold-pressed veg. oils

Virgin Coconut or Olive oil

Organic and cold-pressed corn, canola and soy

Use (virgin)olive, sesame, hazelnut, walnut, etc.
(these contain lower levels of Omega 6 and some of which are high in healthful Omega 3

and are even local :)

The only vegetable based oils that should be solid are coconut and palm b/c they're naturally saturated,
otherwise vegetable oils should not solidify unless by unnatural means.

Organic butter (ideally from grass-fed, free-range cows). Yes, it's healthy!

 *Some brand names of healthful oils I've used have been happy with are: Orphee, Spectrum (their unrefined varieties), Alpha (coconut), Rapunzel, Earth's Best, Flora.  And I'm sure there are many smaller, quality oil-producers out there too that I don't yet know about.  I
(If you know of one in particular - please let me know!)
____________________________________________
There are a great many organizations out there today that have been fighting to put healthful food back on the dinner tables of people like you and me, with much achievement, and here are just a few:

http://www.westonaprice.org/ - Named after one of the 20th century's most prominent Nutritional Researcher's.
http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/ - Founded by the indelible Alice Waters - Chef and Food Activist
http://www.michaelpollan.com/ - Author of 'In Defense of Food' and Omnivore's Dilemma' -one of America's leaders in the fight for Food Reform
http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/ - Farm Folk, City Folk - A wonderful organization cultivating a local, sustainable food system
http://www.eatlocal.org/ Our local Farmer's Market Association
http://www.wildfermentation.com/ - a food security & fermentation enthusiast who's making a difference!

So I say bring on the 'High Fat Revolution' - as long as it's real fat!

Stay tuned for more on this huge topic...
Be well, Lisa Marie

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dietary intake of saturated fats are not linked to cardiovascular disease, so says a meta-analysis of 21 studies from across the world....


This headline that I am reporting sets an enormous precident, especially to those of us who have been trying to get this information across for many years now.  Please read the following link and be informed about this very important and often confused subject. 
I will follow-up with some foundational info on what dietary fats are important for us to have on a regular basis.  Hint it may not be what you expect (and certainly not what you tend to read in the omni-present, so-called health journals)

http://www.nutraingredients.com/content/view/print/277500

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nourishing with Clean Fuel

This week being a very busy week for me (I was just in Kamloops for 5 days) with many deadlines and plenty of client bookings (smiles), so I decided to share a wonderful recipe with you that has incredible nourishing and detoxifying powers all in one package.
So, if you're cleansing, thinking of starting a cleanse or just want a great any-season, easy-to-digest salad recipe - this one is for you.  It is great recipe for 'filling in the gaps' in your diet by nourishing with some of nature's cleanest nature's fuel.

Any Season Sprout Salad

*A very enzyme-rich salad that is easy to digest!

1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 cup ass’t bean sprouts
1/2 cup sunflower sprouts
1/4 cup broccoli sprouts
1/4 cup garlic sprouts
¼ package pea shoots
a few sprigs of water cress
Approx. 6 red or purple radishes, sliced
1 stalk of celery
1 stalk of green onion, chopped
Makes approx. 2 portions

Dressing:
4 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp Red wine or balsamic vinegar
Splash of raw apple cider vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Maple syrup (double for ‘sweet-tooths’)
1 sprig of fresh lemon thyme (optional)
Pinch unrefined sea salt to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste
Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Combine and drizzle on freshly made salad...and enjoy!
*Dressing can be stored in the fridge for several weeks if well-sealed and preferrably in a dark glass container.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sugar and its Many Faces

Until recently I have been really strict about my little one's sugar intake (basically nothing except some raw honey and the odd bit of real maple syrup in homemade foods) but I realize I can only carry on for so long. Also, the increasing frequency of play dates and outings has made it harder to control what passes his lips. Since when have Goldfish become an official food group?

I have noticed lately when he has ingested some of these more refined foods his sleep suffers. On several occasions recently he has been impossible to put down for a nap and my husband and I were totally baffled as to why. Then I started watching his food intake and, sure enough, the fussy naptimes correlated with his refined food intake, albeit only in small, infrequent doses. His overall demeanor is also affected as he is more irritable and does not listen and cooperate well.  This happens to adults too but may not be as obvious as we don't have our parents observing us and overlooking our diets anymore.

This inspired me to write a post about sugar and its many guises. We are all gradually becoming better at reading labels—good for us! But unfortunately as we consumers become smarter the marketers of food get smarter as well, and can be very deceptive about their advertising and labeling in order to reach a broader group of people. And this is not necessarily intentional as there is a lot of ignorance about what is considered healthy amongst good food manufacturers.

They want their food to be appealing so they’ll make it look sexier on the outside when it’s really rather un-appealing on the inside. For example, many marketers of children’s food incorporate cartoon characters to make it almost impossible for your child to pass it by in the grocery store (I hate those). And of course they desperately have to have it because their favourite cartoon is on it. That is almost sure-fire criteria for me to actually avoid the product, as it is likely to contain loads of sugar.

My Guidelines on Sugar
1. First, remember the saying “If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not healthy”? This is pretty sound advice.

2. There are many pronounceable words as well that we need to avoid: Anything on an ingredient label ending in 'ose' (ie: fructose, sucrose, glucose…) is a refined sugar, which is not a healthy staple food (these are only really appropriate for occasional use, meaning maybe once a month, at most).

3. Pretty much anything that doesn’t say unrefined or raw (when labeling sugar) is refined or too highly processed in some way.

Sweeteners I recommend using exclusively in your kitchen
Raw, unprocessed honey (“straight from the bees knees” as I say) *not pasteurized or unpasteurized, which is still processed too much and destroys beneficial nutrients. This is my personal favourite as it is local an eco-friendly

Real Maple Syrup (“straight from the tree’s knees”)

Brown Rice Syrup

Blackstrap Molasses (unsulphured)

Panela, Rapadura (sourced from Central/South America)

Jaggery (traditionally used in India and Africa)

Stevia (unrefined and ideally green in colour, as it comes from a green plant which you can, incidentally, easily grow yourself.)

How our bodies are affected by refined sugar
When we eat sugar in its refined form our body processes it much differently that it would in its unrefined form. Being the natural beings that we are—our bodies are attuned to natural food and thrives best on it in its most pure, unprocessed form.

When you eat something with ‘white sugar’ in it, for instance, your body wonders: “Where’s the fibre? Where are all the vitamins and minerals?" Your body makes the best of it and metabolizes it anyway. Over time, if we continue to eat these foods on a regular basis, the lack of fibre, vitamins and minerals plays havoc on our systems as our bodies begin to miss the lacking ingredients that should inherently be there. This is what happens when deficiency sets in. The very missing parts become our bodies deficiencies. Snd those deficiencies potentially become the roots of disease.

Raw/unrefined sugar contains the same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include Phosphorous, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium. When sugar is processed there are many harmful chemicals added such as Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide and Formic Acid. Fortified (added) vitamins and minerals are not nearly as beneficial as the naturally occurring ones found in fresh food, so don't rely on them for your daily intake. They'll keep you alive...but not healthy.

Sugar Addiciton
Another consideration is the addiction potential of refined sugar, which is much greater without the refined-out nutrients. When we crave sweet things our body is actually craving the ‘whole package’ so it will keep craving it until we feed it the unrefined sweets our body really wants and needs. I personally reversed my pre-diabetic condition several years ago by totally removing refined sugar/grains from my diet and eating predominantly raw honey as my sweetener of choice. It took only 6 weeks to see major results and renewed health.

Almost every modern illness is linked to regular consumption of refined sugar/grain intake. For example: Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease/High Cholesterol, Attention Deficit Disorder, Weight Issues and Obesity, Immune-Related disorders. And we are seeing them occur more and more in young children.

Your raw, unrefined sugar should look brown, crumbly and uncrystallized, like this:


And not like this:                            
  

And definitely not this:

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