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Why exercise lowers blood sugar… The GLUT 4 Transporter

figure2you

As if I needed to give you another reason to love exercise. I know, many of you out there do not like exercising and see it as a chore or just another thing to cross off the old to do list. I know you’ve read many headlines about why exercise is healthy for weight management, heart health, mental health, and detoxification. But I’d like to give you JUST ONE MORE REASON to exercise today because this one you may not have heard yet. Blood sugar control. Studies have found that exercise is not only great for preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, but that it also helps people who currently have the diagnosis. And here’s why…

There is a happy medium that your blood needs for it’s sugar content. Too little sugar and you feel hungry and lethargic. HANGRY if you will (get it? Hungry + Angry). Too much blood sugar and your vascular system can be become inflamed which can lead to vascular and organ damage. Not to mention the fact that your cells are by enlarge not getting the fuel needed to function.  In reviewing one of my favorite articles that we studied in nutrition school I am refreshed on the mechanism of the GLUT-4 transporter. What is the GLUT-4 transporter you might ask? Well it is an intercellular transport protein that’s main purpose is to transport glucose from outside your cell membrane (the blood) and to bring it inside the cell membrane (where it should be!). Your cells actually have several transport proteins for glucose entry. However, many of them depend on insulin. Which in the case of diabetes, is not very available or your cells are resistant to it’s actions altogether. What’s a cell to do??!! Well one option that is helpful is the prescription medicines available for those with type II diabetes which are a good start. Although some GLUT transporters (glucose transporter proteins) rely on insulin, the GLUT-4 transport protein responds to also EXERCISE! That’s right people. This wild little transport protein answers to your body’s response to muscle contraction. When you exercise your skeletal muscle cells release all sorts of chemicals in response to muscle contraction and these chemicals in skeletal muscles have been found to upregulate the GLUT-4 transport proteins. The GLUT-4s when signaled by exercise then travel to the cell membrane surface where they can dock and accept a glucose molecule into the cell.

What is even more good news is that science has found there to be no difference in the amount of GLUT-4 transport proteins in skeletal muscle cells between healthy individuals and those who are either obese or have type II diabetes. So there is no noticible deficit of this needed molecule even in individuals who are challenged with blood sugar control issues. All the more reason to exercise right? The result is a net rise in cellular uptake of glucose. Any form of exercise counts even walking. Due to this interesting finding it is reasonable to consider a short walk if you have time after a meal. Since post meal time is when blood  sugars typically increase a good time to take advantage of your skeletal muscle GLUT-4 action is right then. Not to mention the fact that it is a great way to ease stress.

Have a healthy day, hopefully with some exercise 🙂

 

Source:

Sheherd P, Kahn B. Glucose Transporters and Insulin Action. New England Journal of Medicine. 1999; 341 (4): 248-257

Holiday meal choices 101…

thanksgiving-cornucopia

With the millions of recipes available to you via a google search you will surely find many options this holiday season. And how will you choose your meals if you are watching your diet for health reasons? Well lets go over some of your options shall we?

Option A: Make all your favorites in their original format despite their potential high calorie/ sugar content

Option B: Modify your regular holiday recipes to make them lower in calorie/ sugar/ fat

Option C: Make all your favorites in their original format despite their potential high calorie / sugar content while adding lots of vegetables for appetizers and a nice salad in addition to all your favorite sides.

There are a couple of potential problems with the holiday season. At the top of this list… we are surrounded by candy/ cookies essentially from October through December. That is three months each year of us consistently having to consciously choose NOT to eat delicious sugary treats that are staring us in the face. You’ll notice that between January and September it is relatively easier to avoid sweets since there are no cultural traditions surrounding eating sweets as a means of celebrating. With the exception of one week in February. So how do we responsibly select our dishes to be served at our holiday meals? Assuming you yourself is cooking/ hosting. Well the answer is going to depend on the person. If you have a family that you think will tolerate new healthier versions of old family favorites then maybe that could work. I know in my family (on both sides) this would not work. We all have a dish or two that we would not tolerate being absent at a holiday! Who wants Christmas with out Aunt Susan’s chocolate cream pie?? Not any Cantin (my side of the family) that I know. And I have been known to insist on bringing to holiday meals my fully loaded pumpkin pie from scratch made with real heavy whipping cream, sugar, butter and a roasted pie pumpkin. Am I giving that up even during a year in which I am watching my dietary choices? NO WAY. Call me a bad nutritionist. I like my real home made pumpkin pie. In fact, I like my holiday dishes made in the traditional recipes all around rather that a lower calorie version. I’m OK with the lower calorie recipes the remaining 363 days a year. Most of them are actually VERY TASTEY!! But not on Thanksgiving nor Christmas. So I’d go for Option C, adding in vegetables where possible to the classically prepared holiday meal and adding in plenty of water drinking.

Here’s the thing people… it takes on average about 3500 consumed extra calories to gain a pound. Is it possible to eat 3500 calories on thanksgiving day? Oh yes. Does this mean you will gain a pound? Maybe. But what else is going on on Thanksgiving day? And what about the remainder of the week following Thanksgiving? How about scheduling in some physical activity thanksgiving morning? Can someone else do the morning shift of cooking while you partake in some type of movement? What about the rest of the week, can you schedule in some more physical activity than you normally would?

Then there’s the leftovers. This is where the dietary goals might become more problematic honestly. You have that fabulous pie staring at you everytime you open the fridge, you have those decadent side dishes (some of which are basically desserts… I’m looking at you sweet potatoes) and gravy, and turkey OH MY! Instead of eating thanksgiving dinner over and over and over again for 4-5 days on end how about sending home some of those sweet potatoes, pies and gravy’s with others? Or just get rid of them by either freezing them or throwing them out. GASP!! I know, many people hate throwing out food. But if its going to seriously derail your health goals for an entire week …I suggest you get rid of some of that stuff.

How can we incorporate vegetables and why? Because they are chock full of nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and they are low in calories. This means that you can provide your body with some healthy compounds prior to the dinner that will provide your cells and liver with protective mechanisms while also providing your digestion with some healthy fiber that will help you stay fuller for longer and makes you less likely to over eat. Wouldn’t that be nice? The whole idea is balancing out that decadent meal as best you can. Sure it’s alright to indulge over the holidays! But do what you can to mix in some healthy fresh foods to the mix along with some physical activity and water drinking. How about some cucumber and pepper slices in place of crackers for those dips? How about a hummus dip along with or in place of the creamy dips? Roasted asparagus spears, Fruit platters with tooth picks and yogurt dips. You get the idea? Tomorrow I will post one of my favorite fall salad recipes. Stay tuned and stay healthy.

Are all calories created equal?? Part two…

low carb meal of fish

Dear HartsSpace fans,

I had SO much fun writing the last blog about how two diferent 930 calorie meals would affect the body that I just HAD to continue on this topic in this blog. If you’d like to read the first part of this blog I will insert a link within this sentence click right HERE. In the first part of this blog I ranted about fiber for several paragraphs while saying that fiber was just the tip of the iceberg, and that is the TRUTH! The healthy 930 calorie meal referenced in the previous blog consisted of a salad with fresh greens, grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds, whole grains and a fantastic salad dressing made with olive oil. While fiber helps to explain how that meal can help with weight management there are many other components of this healthy enticing salad that provide your body health benefits.

For starters the fact that the star of the show in that healthy salmon salad is vegetables. Not starch, not a gigantic chunk of protein, but vegetables. This may sound strange to you to have veggies be the central focus of the meal since our society tends to load our plates with meat, starch and just a dash of veggies (or sometimes none… gasp!) however as far as what’s healthy and the most recent recommendations for how to eat, this is how we all should consider eating. Why are vegetables so important? Because they are chock full of natural vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients all while staying low in calories. Since they are low in calories, you might have already noticed that you are able to eat more of them. They don’t fill us up as quickly as rice, bread, meats, etc. But they provide us with exponentially more health benefits than similar proportions of carbs and proteins. The best way to describe vegetables amazing profile of being LOW in calories and HIGH in nutrition is NUTRIENT DENSITY. Vegetables essentially give us the most bang for our buck as far as how many nutrients we get in every bite. And they give us a nutrient profile that will NEVER be replicated in a supplement nor a green powder that you might find at the health food store. Why is that? Because vegetables have phytonutrients. Phyto- WHAT??!! This is a big word that describes all of the plant compounds in plant foods that provide us with health benefits outside of the category of vitamins and minerals. While vitamins and minerals provide us with a specific metabolic function (meaning they are used in very specific and regular bodily processes) they additionally have these wonderful compounds called phytonutrients which are sometimes referred to in the media as anti-oxidants. Antioxidants can be either a vitamin, or a phytonutrient and they essentially are compounds that can protect your cells from damage. Other phytonutrient functions are  anti inflammatory and even anti cancer. We like anti inflammatory compounds since sometimes our diet and lifestyle can lead to damage of our tissues and cells which our body tries to correct by becoming inflamed. The only problem with that is if we are chronically inflammed due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle, we are risking long term damage in the form of an inflammatory disorders like atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease etc. To prevent chronic inflammation it is best to eat a plant foods based diet so we are constantly throwing anti inflammatory componds at our cells and being proactive against inflammation, cell damage and potentially pre-cancerous cell progression. You will never find all this amazing nutrition in a supplement! While a supplement might provide you with one or several vitamins it will never hold all of the non-nutrient health benefits that you’d get from a plant food that naturally are packed together in the food form. Plant foods = vitamins + minerals + phytonutrients + fiber = WAY BETTER THAN A MULTIVITAMIN!

The biggest complaint I hear from patients is that they just flat out don’t like vegetables. Some people might taste bitter stronger than others so these people just might never like bitter vegetables. However, not all veggies are bitter. Other people might have had a bad experience with them as a kid. Maybe they were burned by a brussel sprout that their parent forced them to eat in order to prevent an early bed time. Or maybe they were subjected to terribly overcooked, mushy and under flavored broccoli night after night as a kid and forced to “clean their plate because there are starving children in Africa”… YUCK!! These childhood experiences can certainly set us up for vegetable failure later in life. This is very sad! However I am always encouraging patients who say they dislike vegetables to try some newer methods of cooking and flavoring them that they likely never had as kids. Like the recipes that I have posted all over these blog posts!

When it comes to health in general we really should be planning our meals around vegetables. When making a grocery list, write out 5 vegetables that you’ll have with each dinner. Or a Salad mix that you and the family might like for each night that will be eaten at home. Take preferences into account, please don’t force anyone to eat anything they don’t want to!! If the kids won’t eat veggies, give them fruit while you keep offering veggies nightly. And flavor flavor flavor! That is how you win people over with vegetables. When in doubt – for roasting veggies, some fresh lemon juice with a teaspoon or two of honey/pure maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt and pepper will go a long way. And in a salad my most recent favorite and incredibly EASY salad dressing is this one click right HERE. And as always look online or through our HartsSpace blogs for many many more ideas!

When you treat your vegetables right, dress them up pretty, and give them the respect they deserve, your families and dinner guests will be pleasantly surprised. And very impressed!

 

 

Nutrition for Gout Management

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What is GOUT?

Gout is a health disorder of purine metabolism which causes high levels of uric acid in the body (a type of purine). What is a purine you ask? Well that is an organic compound or molecule that so happens to be present in many proteins (typically of animal origin) in the food chain. There are also plenty of purines present in the human body. When the human body has a healthy and regular purine metabolism the purine levels are maintained at a normal level which has everything running properly. When people suffering from gout have an impaired purine metabolism, they often times wind up with so many purines in their body that a high level of uric acid can build up in the body which often times ends up in the joints. This causes inflammation in the joints and much pain for the gout patient. In severe gout attacks a patient can suffer from debilitating joint injuries that effect their everyday activities.

What can be done about preventing gout attacks?

Of the total purine count in the human body about 2/3 of them are going to be naturally occuring from regular bodily processes. Approximately 1/3 of the total purine count can be due to the diet that the individual is eating. For the patient that suffers from gout attacks a low purine diet can help them to prevent purine overload in their body and thus future goat attacks.

Which types of foods are heavy in purine content?

Foods which are among the highest in purines include bouillon/ broths, gravy, meat extracts, mincemeat, herring, mackerel, anchovies, mussels, sardines, scallops, sweetbreads, yeast (taken as supplement). These foods should generally be avoided by the patient with gout.

Among the moderate purine content food group is the following; fish, poultry, meat, asparagus, dried beans, lentils, mushrooms, and spinach. This group of foods can be eaten by a gout patient one serving per day in portions of about 2-3 oz. Discuss the exact amount with a doctor since some doctors may approve of up to 6 oz per day of these foods. The good news? Contrary to popular belief three oz per day of protein is generally speaking sufficient for healthy people.

Most all other foods are low in purine content however, there are some hidden sources of purines that many people don’t think about when they read the list above. While researching for a recent Gout patient of mine I found out for example that FISH SAUCE is high in purines since it is a concentrated fish product. For gout patients who love thai food it is wise to ask your favorite thai restaurant to hold the fish sauce on your dishes. Additionally it is smart to order thai dishes with the meat on the side. Why? Well because when they toss several pieces of meat in with a mountain of rice noodles/ rice it can be quite difficult for one to estimate how many ounces of meat are being consumed. In the bean category fava beans and garbanzo beans (chick peas) are also higher in purines so avoiding hummus, or bean dips/ dishes containing fava beans will be advisable. Food label reading for food products that contain either fish sauce or any type of MEAT EXTRACT will also be helpful since many asian style frozen food products and soup products could contain these high purine ingredients.

Another strategy to reducing purines in the body is to loose weight if there is weight to be lost. Luckily for you HartsSpace Mental Health and Nutrition currently has a weight management program called Back to the Basics which can teach you really effective life style changing strategies which are key to long term weight management success. You won’t find fad diets here! Just effective long term strategies. Please give us a call today 🙂

 

 

Are all calories created equal??

low carb meal of fish

If you put the title of this blog into google you’d be blown away by opposing theories and evidence on this very topic that would come up. And you’d have a hard time taking a position… I don’t blame you for being confused. I field these questions daily in my nutrition appointments. It was my own curiosity about the plethora of incongruent nutrition advice in the media & on the internet that led me to persue my master’s degree in Nutrition. I apologize in advance if this blog just adds one more oppositional internet article to the pile. However I do think this topic is important for weight management and I’d like at least my own patients to hear my own opinion. And I do feel qualified to answer this question. So here we go!

Are all calories equal... If you eat a Big mac and medium fries you are eating 930 calories. To give you a frame of reference the average American eats on average about a 2000 calorie diet based on their height, weight, age and gender. That is an average for both men and women. So clearly a 930 calorie meal is almost half a day’s worth of calories (or more) in one meal. And most people are having a soda with that too. But we won’t even go there. Now suppose you also have the option to eat instead a salad with fresh greens, grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds, whole grains and a fantastic salad dressing made with olive oil also totaling 930 calories. If the question is whether one meal will benefit your weight management better than the other, I’ll say that I am a firm believer that meal # 2 will benefit your weight management better than the big mac meal despite it’s equal amount of calories. Why? One word… FIBER. The fiber that you get in that meal (specifically from the vegetables, nuts/seeds and whole grains) are going to be more slowly absorbed carbohydrates than the white flour bun and french fries that you got in your big mac. No offense big mac lovers, but there is just not a whole lot of fiber in the big mac meal. Why is fiber more slowly absorbed than white starches? Because fiber by definition is an indigestible carbohydrate. It sounds a little confusing I know. But it is exactly that indigestible quality of fiber that helps our body more slowly absorb the carbohydrates since there is an indigestible carbohydrate portion to our fruits, vegetables, nuts/ seeds, and whole grain foods since these foods go through our digestive track slowly. As they slowly are traveling down our digestive tract they are taking it easy on our blood sugar levels (which should be within a healthy “normal” range) and not spiking our blood sugar level too high. Phew! And that’s just the beginning!! As fiber is taking it’s slow ride through our digestive tract it is taking lots of unhealthy things with it. It has a way of grabbing toxins that may be present in our system and taking them out (excreting them) with the fiber. Fiber also is great at grabbing cholesterol on its way out of our system which effectively can lower your total cholesterol “pool” in your body which over time can decrease your blood cholesterol levels. Now since it is slowly moving through us it tends to leave us feeling full, more full than we would after similar white carbohydrates which is fantastic. If we feel fuller for longer we are less likely to over eat right? What’s not to like about fiber?

Fiber is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on for days but I’ll stick to weight management points today. I’ll also point out that the healthy meal # 2 is going to be lower in carbohydrates than the big mac meal. Why? Because the star of the show in meal # 2 is not the fiber packed complex carbohydrate whole grains. The salad is actually going to be made with proportionally more greens, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and healthy protein (salmon) with just a small portion of complex carbohydrates (whole grains). Why does this mater? Because much research is finding that people are loosing weight more successfully by cutting carbs than by cutting calories. Does this mean an extreme no carb diet is warranted??? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Please don’t get all extreme on me. Those diets have proved to have little if any long term success. I don’t mean to send you down the path of very low- zero carb diets of the 2000s. NO! But fewer carbs and smarter carbs. Complex carbs with fiber like whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal, quinoa, etc). Just like the MyPlate example… here is a link to MyPlate.gov click right here.  The idea of MyPlate is that 1/2 your meals be vegetables/ fruits, about 1/4 of your plate be protein and 1/4 of your plate be a complex carbohydrate. Plenty of plant foods with fiber, and correct proportions of complex carbohydrates and proteins.

So the moral of the story? Total calories is certainly not all that maters. The quality of your calories certainly makes a difference and different foods are absorbed differently. Some better affecting your health and others not so much. Try thinking about making vegetables the star of your meals. And planning meals around vegetables/ fruits rather than starches and proteins. Veggies are naturally lower in calories, and naturally JAM PACKED with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. Phyto-WHAT???!! I’ll explain that one in next week’s blog.

Have a healthy day 🙂

 

 

Please stop hatred against PEAS!

GivePeasAChance

I’d like to take a moment today to just brag about peas. How did these delicious balls of nutritious heaven become so faux paux? I can remember a time when I looked down on peas myself. Here we go… I’m going to air out my dirty laundry from the past. You know I hate admitting what a narrow minded vegetable eater I was in my crazy youth. But hey, we all make mistakes. Once upon a time I decided I did not like peas. I told myself that they were uninteresting, boring, and tasted like soft boiled mush. I likened them to 1950’s type frozen comfort food that had gone out of style years ago. Even now I still have a slight prejidice against any frozen vegetables. Lets face it…Fresh is just better! Frozen is better than NO vegetables however. I went along with my merry little life hating on peas until one day… I was reading an article on plant sterols that highlighted how peas were SO high in plant sterols. “NO WAY!” I thought. “Can it BE?! Peas are actually as good for you as many other vegetables?” Turns out they sure can be.

This legume disguised as a vegetable packs in almost 20% of your daily dietary fiber and iron. Dietary fiber is amazing for your digestive health and helps your blood sugar to stabilize making you feel satiated. Iron is farily important as well for cellular energy metabolism and transport of oxygen. No big deal. Additionally, there is a third your daily vitamin A which helps with improved night vision, anti oxidant protection against cell damage, and enhanced immune system function.. And 50% of your vitamin K recommendation which strengthens your bones. Not to mention 5 g of protein. Not bad for a plant food!  Should I go on? OK…

Peas are a great source of vitamin C which is great for building collagen, reinforcing your immune system, as well as making neurotransmitters and hormones. One cup of peas provides an entire day’s worth of vitamin C. Another nutritional highlight of peas is their folate content. One cup of peas provides a quarter of the daily recommendation for folate. Folate is a nutrient that helps our bodies build and break down necessary proteins and DNA. Folate is also essential to our cardiovascular health and iron status.

Are you a bean/ legume hater??? Well perhaps you never even knew it but peas are in the legume/ bean family. HA! I got you on a technicality. Only a nutrition nerd could pull that off.

So that fateful day when I realized the nutrition potential in peas I began playing with a salad recipe that highlighted plant sterols (a cholesterol look-a-like molecule in plants that actually prevents cholesterol absorption when ingested). I learned some valuable lessons that day. #1 Don’t judge a legume on its matter state (frozen solid in this case). #2 Peas can be just as hot and sexy as FIGS are these days… or even FENNEL! If there are some foodies reading this right now they may be rolling their eyes. But I dare them. I dare them to combine cooked and chilled peas with olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, garlic, and basil and to look me in the eye an tell me that it’s NOT awesome. The cold salad recipe that I blogged about that day I have made several times since then always receiving rave reviews.The salty crunchy pistachio nuts complement the soft sweet peas wonderfully and both are perfectly balanced by lemon and basil! Hooray for peas! I have copy pasted the recipe below for old time’s sake.

Have a healthy day 🙂

Ingredients:

2 cups of frozen peas cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled

2 cups white kidney beans drained and cooled (either dried & cooked or canned if you must)

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 carrot washed and shredded (or half cup of shredded carrots)

1/4 – 1/2 white  onion minced (very small dice)

1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon zest (the shredded zest of about 1/4 of a lemon surface)

1-2 cloves garlic minced (very small dice)

3 tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or whatever olive oil you find/have)

Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

Do you have any herbs in pots or in the garden? If so ripped basil tastes great on this. Experiment with others herbs too!

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl. Toss. Eat. That’s it.

Health Goals 101

In our culture the word diet has negative conotations. It can be quite frustrating to hear since many people see a diet as a rigorous plan to loose weight that often times does not work. It’s of course a valiant effort to eat healthy and I enourage everyone to do so. However, I caution all on popular fad diets that claim to yield big results in a small amount of time. The truth of the matter is that big results are better and more sustainably achieved when you make small realistic health goals that are reasonable for your lifestyle. Additionally having “weight loss” be your primary goal can be frustrating and put much pressure on the dieter. The problem with having weight loss as the initial goal is that weight does fluctuate through out the day, week and month. You can weigh yourself daily, but the fluctuations you see may just be water weight etc. Are you dehydrated? Did you eat dinner late last night? These can all affect the number that you see on the scale in the morning. So instead of making a goal of pounds to loose… how about making a goal that you can reasonably accomplish in a short period of time? What if you made your goal to eat healthy foods? To make healthy lifestyle choices that will make you feel better and have more energy rather than a certain number of pounds lost? You can even throw out that scale if you like! This health philosophy is referred to as Health at Every Size and here is a link to their their website.

At HartsSpace we love to allow patients the freedom to make their own health goals based on their own knowledge of their lifestyle. And we also love to encourage people to make their goals very easy to accomplish! As easy as say drinking one more cup of water per day for 7 days. The success of accomplishing one small goal will lead you to feel confident that you can accomplish a lifestyle change. Then comes another small goal that you perhaps also accomplish. And another, and another, etc. After many small changes you may just wind up feeling like you have much more energy by nature of the lifestyle changes that you’ve made which may motivate you farther to keep going with your small goals.

Here are some examples of small goals that can work for even busy lifestyles…

  • drinking one more glass of water per day
  • parking the car farther away from stores in parking lots (more walking)
  • getting one more hour of sleep per night
  • eating one more serving of fruits/vegetables per day
  • creating a healthy space in your pantry/cabinet (see blog from Tuesday!)
  • creating 30 minutes everyday of “me time” ____ # of days per week, when you relax or do whatever you want!
  • eating a small breakfast _____ # of days per week
  • going on a walk once a week

If you start at one of these easy starting points you should not be so overwhelmed by multiple major lifestyle changes all at once… something that fad diets often ask of you!

Have a healthy day!

Healthy snacks for low blood sugar…

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Do you often get hungry right after a snack? Do you need some kind of snack to hold you over between meals? Today we will discuss snacks that will “stick to your ribs” as my mother used to say. Stick to your ribs? What she meant by this is a snack that will keep you feeling satisfied for a reasonable amount of time. My mom had an eater on her hands. As a kid when I was growing, it seemed as if I had a hollow leg. My mom had to become an expert on keeping her growing daughter fed for fear of a grumpy kid. Grumpy Cat is no fun… TRUST ME!. But I did learn a thing or two about snacking from my mom back then. When I attended graduate school for nutrition, I learned the technical term for what mom explained as  sticking to the ribs… healthy glycemic index foods.

The glycemic index is a scale by which foods, meals, and snacks are rated with regards to how they spike people’s blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index are high in carbohydrates (starches, sugars, etc) and low in fiber, and other food groups. Think foods that are either pure carbs, or mostly carbs. Candies, sugared beverages, white starches like white pastas, white rice, white breads, etc. I am not saying any of those foods are completely bad, just that they should be eaten mindfully, and perhaps be combined with a little fat and protein. When you eat these foods alone they tend to provide your blood with simple sugars that break down really fast making your blood sugar spike. It is usually not very long after a simple sugar snack that you feel hungry again. After a spike in blood sugar, your sugar level crashes low leaving you feeling rather hungry… and probably grouchy. Its nice to have a little fat and protein with your carbs because then your body has a little more to digest and absorb than just pure carbs. When it has more to do… its more likely to stay out of trouble.

Foods or snacks with low glycemic indexes typically have less carbohydrates, or they contain complex carbohydrates which are combined with fats and proteins. What is a complex carbohydrate and why is it better? A complex carbohydrate is a carbohydrate that is a little bit harder to break down when you metabolize it. Examples of complex carbohydrates are starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains (whole wheat vs. white flour, brown rice vs. white rice) FIBER! Essentially, a complex carbohydrate is absorbed slower which means that your blood sugar will not spike up as high and then crash. Instead it will steadily rise a little less drastically which makes you feel fuller for longer… and not crashing an hour after a drastic blood sugar high. Yipeee!

Lets do a healthy glycemic snack make over shall we?

Typical Higher Glycemic Snack Lower Glycemic Version
An apple An apple with peanut/almond/ sunflowerseed butter
Jolly Ranchers Honey roasted nuts (still sugar involved but at least there is fat and protein as well)
Strawberry non fat yogurt Plain greek yogurt  LOW FAT rather than NON fat…with fruit and nuts added (add a teaspoon or two of pure maple syrup/ table sugar if you’d like, you’ll likely be consuming less than half the added sugar from your store bought yogurt… 2 teaspoons is better than 5!)
White bread and butter Whole wheat pita with hummus

Do you get the idea? I think it is OK to have a little added sugars in your snacks. See! I can be fun too! I just think it helps if we are all mindful and put some thought into how MUCH sugar we need in our snacks. If you eat that non fat strawberry yogurt from the store for example they LOAD that thing UP with added sugar to make sure you like it and will buy more. Or maybe artificial sugar… but that’s a whole other blog topic for another day. Who needs 5 or 6 teaspoons of sugar in their yogurt!!??!! You might as well eat cake at that point.

The honey roasted nuts I see as a better option to just pure sugar candy… the good old Jolly Rancher. You will actually feel less jolly after eating that rancher I think.

Now I know what you may say… is ice cream OK then? Fat, Carbs, and protein right? The answer is it is better blood sugar wise to eat a combined food group food like ice cream than pure sugar food, HOWEVER… if you eat too much ice cream… the sugar content might win and make you crash. If you are starving I suggest something with more fiber than added sugars like one of the snacks above. Save the ice cream for a time when you’re not starving and less likely to over eat the ice cream.

Have a low glycemic day!

A detoxifying salad…

 

You know me… I am a salad snob, and proud of it. Not only am I snobby about how my salads taste, but I am also snobby about what my salad does for my body. If I am going to create a salad… I might as well put my masters degree in Nutrition to some use and make that salad pack a nutritional punch. Game on.

In the spirit of the detox discussion that I started Friday, I would like to share with you my detox salad recipe. Please understand that this is NOT a salad that you must incorporate into an organized detox regime. NO! In fact I don’t really do organized detox regimes… instead I just incorporate detoxifying foods as much as possible into my daily meals. That way your liver is constantly receiving the nutrients and co factors that it needs to effectively turn the toxins that you encounter into waste products. This makes your liver happy, and gives it more tools to do it’s job. Additionally, if you make this salad with organic vegetables, the liver will have less of a work load. Why? Because when you ingest pesticides, your liver identifies them as toxins (correctly) and needs to put them through the detoxification steps in order to turn them into waste.

I have designed this salad to contain many detoxifying vegetables, specifically beets, citrus, and bitter greens (arugula). I also have designed this to contain mostly ingredients that you can buy at the farmers market right now. That way you can have a LOCAL salad which is great for our local economy 🙂 Not to mention healthier since these vegetables have not traveled very far. They are not jet lagged, dehydrated, or malnourished. This recipe is gluten free. At the end of the instructions I have provided a link to a wonderful dressing recipe.

6 cups of arugula washed, towel dried, and chopped into bit size pieces

1 red onion caramelized

1/2 bunch of asparagus roasted

1 orange peeled and diced

2 cooked beets diced

handful of sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

 

The salad dressing recipe is linked here salad dressing recipe

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. To roast the asparagus just wash them off and dry them with a kitchen towel. Chop off the woody white ends. Then chop them into bite size pieces. Toss them in a bowl, or gallon size zip lock bag with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, some salt and some pepper. Put them on a greased cookie sheet and put them in the oven. Roast them until desired tenderness… about 25 minutes. Let them cool and then add them to your salad bowl.

Use the butter to caramelize your onions. Those directions are posted below. Don’t have time? No problem, just cut the red onions into thin slivers and maybe cut the quantity in half. Raw onions are very strong so less of the raw onions will be good.

Combine in a large salad bowl arugula,  asparagus, onions, oranges, beets, and sunflower seeds. Add a little salt and pepper. If you choose to make the salad dressing add about a half a cup of the salad dressing. If you choose not to add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Toss the salad and serve 🙂 If you need help with preparing the beets or the onions, help is posted below 🙂

 

Are you unsure how to cook beets? Here is one method…

Wash the beets and cut the greens off. TIP: Leave the base of the beat stems intact with the beet. Why? Because that way the skin remains intact throughout the boiling process and fewer nutrients are leached out into the water.
Place the beets into a large saucepan with enough water to cover them. Put the burner on the high setting and let them coming to a rolling boil.
Once the beets have reached a rolling boil turn the heat down to the low setting and let them simmer for approximately one hour. When you can pierce the beets with a fork fairly easily they are done. Larger beets will take longer to cook and vice versa. Start testing them with a fork at 45 minutes.

Once they have passed your fork test pour them carefully into a colander in the sink and run some cold water over them to cool them down. Wait a few minutes as they cool. Then after you’ve waited, pick one up and put it under more cold running water. Carefully push with your fingers to remove the skin. WARNING: The beet may still be hot under the skin! The skin should slide off very easily if it is fully cooked. Repeat this process with remaining beets.

Your hands will be stained from handling them but I promise it will be worth it and the pink will wash off within a 2 or 3 hand washes.

Place beets on a cutting board, halve them and slice them.

 Are you unsure how to caramelize onions? Here are those instructions…
Just heat up a skillet/ fry pan (cast iron tastes best) to about medium and add a tablespoon or two of either butter or coconut oil. Add the onions and flavor them with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the onions often to prevent them from sticking to the pan. Add extra butter/ oil if needed. Continue to cook the onions until you get a nice brown color to them. I prefer mine to be even a little burnt and crispy. Once the are browned to your liking transfer them to a plate to cool. When they are cool enough that they will not wilt your salad greens go ahead and add them as a topping to your salad.

Detoxifying foods for a healthy liver….

liver-detox1

Hello everyone! Thursday we covered the first layer of defense that you can provide for your hard working liver fiber, fluid, and physical activity. Today I’d like to explain how the liver detoxifies toxic compounds that it comes into contact with. There are two steps that happen in your liver which turn a toxin into a waste product to be eliminated. Step one is activation. If the liver identifies a toxic compound as such it first activates it by adding a molecular group. Once it is activated, the toxin is now ready for phase two of this process which adds another molecular group that turns it into a water soluble product that is ready for waste. The molecular groups that are added in step two can be methyl groups, acetyl groups, and sulphur groups.

Do you know what helps your liver help you?  Eating foods that contain these phase two detoxification groups. Those phase two detoxification groups can be found in a lot of fruits and vegetables. Eating a whole foods diet with lots of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables is extremely helpful to your liver. Plant foods contain a lot of those phase two detoxification molecular groups. If you increase the pool of those phase two groups in your liver, you are putting it in a position of success. Additionally, if you buy more organic vegetables you are decreasing the toxic load presented to your liver. The less pesticides, herbicides, drugs, alcohol, and microorganisms that your liver has to clear out, the better off your liver will be. And the more plant foods with phase two functional molecular groups that you provide your liver with, the better it will do at clearing out the toxins.

Specific liver supportive foods…

-Beets! Betaine a phytochemical in beets is very helpful

-Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.

-Citrus

-Fresh produce in general… the brighter the colors the better

-Curcumin (tumeric)

I hope this gives you ANOTHER REASON to love your vegetables. Your liver loves them too. Now please go buy some broccoli (organic if possible) and make sure you follow it with some water and a little exercise.

Have a healthy Wednesday 🙂