Inflammation and your diet

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Inflammation is the root cause of most diseases (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, asthma, etc.).  When we begin experiencing chronic pain, it is easy to forget about the importance of paying attention to our bodies and the role foods play in our health.

When healing inflammation, the number one important thing to remember is that inflammation loves an acidic environment. We create this environment in our bodies by:

  • Eating acidic foods (meat, dairy, sugar, wheat, and other acidic foods)
  • Experiencing chronic mental stress (fear, resentment, depression, anger, worry, anxiety)
  • Suffering from physical stress (bodily injury, surgery, insomnia, physical strain/overuse)

The best way to support your body while experiencing chronic inflammation is to address the above issues and how they affect your life. Read More


A New Year – A Healthier You

Happy New YearIt’s a huge challenge to eat healthy during the holidays. Overindulgence of rich and sugary foods goes hand-in-hand with the season of giving, making it difficult to find a balance between holiday traditions and healthy eating. After the celebrating is over, we look to the new year in hopes of regaining our equilibrium. It’s the perfect time to renew the commitment towards making healthier choices.

I invite you to join me in reclaiming healthy eating habits. I’m not talking about the dreaded “d” word – “dieting”. “Dieting” is filled with the negativity of depriving yourself of the foods your body has become addicted and emotionally attached to. (Learn more about your brain and food addiction.)

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Persimmons, packed full of nutrient power

persimmonsMost people underestimate the nutritional value of Persimmons.

Persimmons are a strange fruit. In late Fall in Northern California, you can find this plump fruit dangling from bare tree limbs, hanging on as if afraid to let go. Persimmons have a delicately mild sweet flavor and a firm apple-like consistency (Fuyu variety) or a soft and stringy texture (Hachiay variety). Until recently, I didn’t pay much attention to the potential value of their nutrients, being prejudice against their unusual textures and lack of distinct robust flavor. However, upon urging from my daughters and the generosity of my mother-in-law’s bountiful trees, we have incorporated this fruit into our Fall diet this year. Much to my surprise, Persimmons have become a wonderful complement to our plant-based meals.

This seasonal fruit holds a amazing amount of healing nutrients. Persimmons are: Read More


Food Combinations That Enhance Nutrient Power – Part 2: Tomato Synergy

IMG_0068Eating a variety of whole plant-based foods is essential for healing and maintaining excellent health. Science is now discovering that some foods, when eaten together, increase the effects of their individual nutrients, providing even greater health benefits. This is called food synergy. Last month I wrote about lemons. Today, it’s all about tomatoes.

It’s well known that tomatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants: beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C. But did you know that they are also rich in potassium and a very good source of copper, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, and phosphorus? And have you heard that tomato peels contain all four major carotenoids that help protect your body from cancer? When tomatoes are cooked, the lycopene (one of the major carotenoids that lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers) becomes even more bioavailable, increasing the amount your body can absorb.

What’s even more amazing is that when tomatoes are combined with cruciferous vegetables, avocados or olive oil, a synergistic effect occurs that enables your body to more easily absorb and use those powerful anti-cancer and healing nutrients.

Tomatoes and Cruciferous Vegetables – Individually, tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) contain cancer-fighting properties, each food providing distinctive bioactive compounds that fight cancer in different ways. Research has discovered that, when tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables are combined, cancer fighting properties of each are significantly enhanced as the carotenoids in tomatoes increase the bioactive components found in the vegetables.  One study at the University of Illinois focused on the synergistic effect of broccoli and tomatoes. They discovered that the tumor-inhibiting effects are significantly enhanced when broccoli and tomatoes are eaten together. It has also been found that chopping and then heating the vegetables makes the cancer fighting compounds even more active. The cutting process breaks the cells and activates an enzyme that initiates a cellular process that results in increased cancer protection. And, as I mentioned in last month’s Lemon Synergy blog, adding a little lemon juice to broccoli increases that enzyme activity. However, be careful of overcooking cruciferous veggies as it results in decreasing their nutrient power. It’s best to steam or sauté lightly.

Try these simple recipes:

Tomatoes and Avocados or Olive Oil – Science has proven that lycopene is fat soluble. As a result, consuming healthy fats with tomatoes increases your body’s absorption rate of the lycopene. According to a study from Ohio State University, when tomatoes are eaten along with avocados or olive oil, the body’s absorption of lycopene is increased up to 15 times. In addition, in 2000, a study in Free Radical Biology and Medicine revealed that, when people consumed tomato products with extra-virgin olive oil versus sunflower oil, researchers discovered that olive oil raised the antioxidant activity of the lycopene in tomatoes. However, consuming sunflower oil produced no effect.

Try these simple recipes:

  • Food.com’s Simple Tomato and Avocado Salad
  • Add tomatoes and avocado to your salad or use olive oil in your dressings
  • Roast or sauté tomatoes with onion and red bell pepper and a little olive oil, garlic, Italian herbs and sea salt. Once cooked, blend in a food processor or blender until the desired consistency then serve over pasta or your favorite grain. Ta da! You’ve got a delicious, high powered nutritious sauce to go with your meal.

Next time you go grocery shopping, don’t forget your tomatoes.


Food Combinations That Enhance Nutrient Power – Part 1: Lemon Synergy

IMG_0009Last month, I wrote about food synergy, how healing through food is not about obtaining large amounts of any single nutrient, but how whole plant-based foods provides a complex mix of nutrients that work together synergistically within your body to create powerful health benefits we have yet to understand. My next series of blogs are going to take this concept one step further by looking at how specific food combinations enhance the nutrient potency of your meal and the bioavailability of those nutrients.

Today, I’m going to focus on lemons. On their own, lemons contain many nutrients that boost the immune system and fight infection: citric acid, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene. They provide strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, as well as act as a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons are also alkaline which helps balance your body’s pH, protecting you from inflammation and disease. When eaten with specific other foods, lemons are a wonderful example of food synergy as they enhance nutrient absorption and potency. Take a look at these powerful food combinations: Read More


gazpacho soup

Gerry’s Gazpacho Soup

Gerry's Gazpacho

This is a recipe provided by Gerry Gospe and a wonderful way to celebrate tomatoes on a hot summer night.

Note – this recipe is super easy to make if you have a juicer (for making the tomato juice) and if you have a Vitamix or similar blender. Then you do not need to chop everything so finely.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups tomato juice. If you have a juicer, you can make fresh tomato juice in it.
  • 2 1/4 peeled, or not, seeded, or not, chopped red tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, minced
  • 1 peeled, seeded, diced cucumber
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño, minced and seeded (unless you like it hot)
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 lime
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 Tsp. each dried tarragon and basil, or 3 Tbsp. fresh
  • 1/2 to 1 Tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 cup freshly minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Directions:

  • Make the tomato juice with a juice or by hand, squeezing the tomatoes
  • Add all ingredients through the lemon and lime juice into the Vitamix, blender or food processor, if using. Process on low for 30-40 sec. Otherwise you can simply stir the ingredients.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (from balsamic vinegar on), stir and chill for an hour or so. Serve and enjoy!

 


Chia seeds – do the benefits outweigh the cost?

chia seedsChia seeds have become a trendy health food, but are they really worth the expense? A 12 oz. bag ranges from $8 to $11. This cost can put a lot of stress on the food budget.

Chia seeds are tiny brown black seeds, about the size of poppy seeds. The chia plant is from the mint family, native to the deserts of Central America and Mexico. They have been a dietary staple for the Aztec and Mayans, most commonly used as an energy and hydration food for their warriors as well as a medicinal for joint and skin complaints.

Today, chia seeds are promoted as a superfood, having been proven to provide the following health benefits:

Aids in the elimination of carcinogens – Chia seeds are loaded with fiber. Eating enough fiber is extremely important as it aids in removing harmful carcinogens through the digestive tract. When in contact with liquid, the seeds expand forming a gel that adds bulk to your stools, preventing constipation by keeping your bowel movements regular. Read More