Deanna

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 16:19

Mental health, inflammation, and mood foods

 
Mental health issues have a huge impact on society. Some suggest that their impact is larger than any other chronic disease, including heart disease or diabetes.
 
There are so many factors involved in complex conditions like mental health issues. Science is just starting to unravel one of these factors - inflammation. 
 
First, we’ll go over the many links between inflammation and mental health (there are a few). Then, we’ll talk about some exciting research into natural approaches - things like foods, nutrients, and lifestyle upgrades - and how these are related to better mental health.
 
NOTE: None of these are a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any of these conditions, make sure you’re being monitored regularly by a licensed healthcare professional.
 
What is Inflammation?
 
The word inflammation comes from the Latin word “inflammo,” meaning “I set alight, I ignite.”
 
Because inflammation can become harmful, it has gotten a lot of bad press lately. However, inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. As in most areas of health, it’s the balance that’s important.
 
Inflammation is actually a natural process that our body uses to protect against infections, irritants, and damage. Inflammation helps our bodies eliminate damaged cells and tissues, and helps them to repair. It also helps to reduce the cause of the damage, for example, by fighting the infection. Inflammation that happens in a big way, but for a short time can help the body to heal these injuries and infections.
 
On the other hand, lower levels of inflammation sometimes stick around longer than necessary. This long-term “chronic” inflammation can cause damage over time. Often, there are few, if any, signs or symptoms. It’s this chronic inflammation that is linked to many conditions including mental health, heart disease, and diabetes. 
 
Inflammation mostly comes from our immune system’s response to infections and injuries. It also involves our blood vessels (arteries and veins) and other molecules. A few of these inflammatory molecules, or “markers,” include free radicals (oxidants), cytokines, and C-reactive protein (CRP).
 
So, what are the links between inflammation and mental health?
 
Inflammation and mental health
 
There are many factors linked to suboptimal mental health. One of these is inflammation. 
Friday, 05 January 2018 22:36

Healthy Tuna Salad

This can be served with a salad for a gluten free, dairy free lunch. 
Makes 2 Servings
 
Ingredients:
1 can (5 oz) water packed tuna, drained (if you're not worried about the healthy fat content, get the Italian olive oil packed tuna in jars-- the flavour is terrific).
 
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
 
1/2 stalk celery, minced
 
1 finely chopped scallion
 
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
 
Extra virgin olive oil to taste

 
Salt and pepper to taste 
 
Directions:
Pour the tuna in a small mixing bowl. Use a fork to break the tuna chunks into very small pieces.
 
Add the basil, celery and lemon juice to the bowl. Use the fork to stir all the ingredients together till well mixed.
 
Add extra virgin olive oil to moisten the tuna to your liking. I usually use between 1 and 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper to taste; sea salt and freshly ground pepper is best. 

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

Your heart has four chambers that beat in a rhythm; two atria and two ventricles. The atria are the upper chambers. AF happens when the atria beat too fast and irregularly. They “quiver” instead of pumping properly.

AF is the most common arrhythmia worldwide. In fact, in the US, you have a 25% risk of getting it in your lifetime. The number of people with AF is increasing and is expected to increase further as the population ages.

Symptoms of AF include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and reduced ability to exercise. Sometimes you may not experience any symptoms.

Who is most likely to get AF? About 70% of people with AF are between 65-85 years old. AF is more common in men than women.

Why should we be concerned with AF? People with AF have a steep increase in risk of blood clots, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and death. These are because the blood is not being pumped around the body properly.

Having AF also triples the risk for dementia.

AF is a serious condition that requires medical advice. Treatment involves medications; but, can also involve pacemakers or implantable defibrillators.

Friday, 05 January 2018 18:43

Curried Carrot Cauliflower Soup

Curried Carrot Cauliflower Soup  
Makes 6 - 8 Servings
Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
5 cups vegetable broth
1 head cauliflower, chopped (about 4 cups)
3 cups peeled and chopped carrots (about 8 medium carrots)
1 1/2 tsp curry
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
 
Directions:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onions for 3 minutes, or until soft.
Dissolve the vegetable bouillon in the water and add to the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.
Using an immersion blender or standing blender, puree all of the ingredients until smooth.
Top with:  Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Friday, 05 January 2018 18:30

Eggplant Ratatouille

If you are looking for an easy to make gluten-free, dairy free dinner, this is sure to please the whole family.
 
Makes 8 - 10 Servings
 
Ingredients:
2 large eggplants
2 yellow onions

3 bell peppers

6-8 medium zucchini 

4 large tomatoes

1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

3-4 sprigs thyme

1/4 cup loosely packed basil, sliced into ribbons

Extra basil for garnishing

Salt and pepper
 
Directions:
Peel the eggplants, if desired, and chop them into bite-sized cubes. Transfer them to a strainer set over a bowl and toss with a tablespoon of salt. Let the eggplant sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
 
Dice the onions and roughly chop the peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Mince the garlic. The vegetables will be cooked in batches, so keep each one in a separate bowl.
 
Warm a teaspoon of olive oil in a large (at least 5 1/2 quart) Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté until the onions have softened and are just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the peppers and continue cooking until the peppers have also softened, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and peppers to a clean bowl.
 
Add another teaspoon of oil to the pot and sauté the zucchini with a generous pinch of salt until the zucchini has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to the bowl with the onions and peppers.
 
Rinse the eggplant under running water and squeeze the cubes gently with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Warm two teaspoons of oil in the pan and sauté the eggplant until it has softened and has begun to turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl with the other vegetables.
 
During cooking, a brown glaze will gradually build on the bottom of the pan. If it looks like this glaze is beginning to turn black and burn, turn down the heat to medium. You can also dissolve the glaze between batches by pouring 1/4 cup of water or wine into the pan and scraping up the glaze. Pour the deglazing liquid into the bowl with the vegetables.
 
Warm another teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and sauté the garlic until it is fragrant and just starting to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, whole sprigs of thyme. As the tomato juices begin to bubble, scrape up the brown glaze on the bottom of the pan.
 
Add all of the vegetables back into the pan and stir until everything is evenly mixed. Bring the stew to a simmer, then turn down the heat to low. Stirring occasionally, simmer for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours. Shorter cooking time will leave the vegetables in larger, more distinct pieces; longer cooking times will break the vegetables down into a silky stew.
 
Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Just before taking the ratatouille off the heat, stir in the basil. Sprinkle the extra basil and a glug of good olive oil over each bowl as you serve.
 
Leftovers can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to three months. Ratatouille is often better the second day, and it can be eaten cold, room temperature, or warmed.
Notes:
• Making a Smaller Batch: This recipe can be cut in half and adapted to use whatever vegetables you have.
• Flavour Extras: For something different try adding a tablespoon of smoked paprika, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a quarter cup of red wine, or a splash of vinegar to the ratatouille.
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 14:22

Beautiful skin with hyaluronic acid

 
Did you know that back in medieval France, King Henry II’s wife, Princess Catherine, believed that if she ate chicken combs she would become beautiful? Even before that (in the 700s) Yang Guifei, one of the four beauties of ancient China, also ate chicken combs.
 
Chicken combs, as it turns out, contain a lot of a substance known as hyaluronic acid. Recent clinical studies show that ingesting hyaluronic acid actually can increase the moisture content of the skin. This shows up as more hydrated, and “beautiful” younger-looking skin.
Friday, 17 November 2017 15:24

Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten is a hot topic and one of the harder foods to eliminate for many people. It does, however, have a big impact on the health and life of those who are sensitive because it can be lurking in so many places. 
Many health coaches first become aware of the food they eat because of the symptoms of food allergy or intolerance that they or their loved ones suffer from. 
Gluten intolerance is a big topic and this article does not intend to cover the topic in depth. The intention is to cultivate awareness so that readers who suspect they have such sensitivity can seek additional help.
 
Gluten is a protein composite found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. This protein can causes reactions in people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. 
 
Gluten intolerance can manifest itself as a wide range of symptoms. Here are some most common ones, although by no means exhaustive: abdominal pain and cramping, arthritis, attention deficit disorder (ADD), bloating, constipation, irritability, stunted growth (due to poor absorption of nutrients), fatigue, headaches, nausea, osteoporosis, teeth and gum problems, unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
 
Celiac disease – a digestive condition triggered by the consumption of gluten – can cause damage of the villi in the intestinal lining, resulting in a gradual decrease in the ability to absorb any nutrients from ingested food, leading to stunted growth and malnutrition. The damage that are done to the intestinal lining also leads to a higher likelihood of leaky gut syndrome, which can create other types of food sensitivities and systemic health issues.
 
In the case of gluten sensitivity, the protein composite escapes the confines of the digestive tract and makes its way into the bloodstream. When the protein composite reaches the brain, it can cause damages leading to mood issues, attention deficit and sometimes learning disabilities. 
 
 
Usually an elimination diet is the most common and definitive way to confirm gluten intolerance. However, some doctors recommend blood testing and allergen testing to be done first so that biomarkers indicating celiac disease can be confirmed.
 
If you are indeed tested positive for gluten sensitivities, care needs to be taken to avoid gluten in your diet. Grains such as wheat, barley, bulgar, kamut, spelt and rye are of course the obvious foods to avoid (oat and oatmeal themselves do not contain gluten, but can be contaminated due to processing and manufacturing process), however, there are also hidden sources of gluten in our food supply that we may not be aware of. These can include: cheese spreads, flavored yogurt and other frozen dairy products, hot chocolate mixes, chocolates, candy/energy bars, soup mixes and canned soups, processed meat (hot dogs, sausages), gravies and other sauces mixes, ketchup, mustards, marinades, nut butter, soy sauce, drink mixes and other packaged beverages, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (found in may prepared or processed foods), children’s modeling dough (Play-Doh), some nutritional supplements, some medications, and some cosmetics such as lipstick and lip balms.
 
Since gluten can be found in so many hidden sources, it’s best to stick with whole foods as much as possible. If you have to buy processed and packaged foods, read the labels carefully and pick ones that have as few additives as possible.
 
Let me  guide you through an elimination diet, or meal planning to remove gluten from your diet.
 
Reference:
http://gluten-intolerance-symptoms.com/
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/celiac-disease/tc/hidden-gluten-topic-overview 
Friday, 17 November 2017 15:15

Lactose Intolerance and Dairy Alternatives

Dairy is one of the most common substances that people develop allergy or intolerance toward. If you are suffer from lactose intolerance, which means your body is unable to produce the enzyme lactase to digest the lactose, you can supplement with lactase enzyme whenever you eat dairy products.
 
There are also many ways we can avoid dairy and substitute dairy products in meal preparation without having to lead a completely “miserable” life in the culinary department.
 
For some people who are allergic to commercial cow’s milk and cow’s milk products, goat’s or sheep’s milk may be better tolerated and can be used instead in moderation. Raw milk is also a great alternative – the enzymes present in raw dairy products are not destroyed by the process of pasteurization, helping pre-digest the protein molecules and lactase, which are the causes of allergic reaction or symptoms of lactose intolerance, respectively.
 
“Milks” made from nuts, seeds and grains can be substituted for cow’s milk for drinking and cooking – provided that you are not allergic to those foods (nuts and soy in particular). More common ones that you can find in stores include soymilk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk and oat milk. Their consistency and taste vary – from type to type and from brand to brand, so you may need to experiment to see what suits your taste or makes the best substitute for your recipes. 
 
If you buy commercial nut, seed or grain milk, make sure you read the label to avoid added sugar as much as possible. Also, additives are often added to these products to make their consistency and taste closer to cow’s milk. If you want to avoid additives altogether, the best bet is to make your own. [If you have a recipe that you want to recommend, you can add a link here]
 
For a more creamy texture in cooking, mashed tofu can be used. However, soy products such as soymilk and tofu should be used in moderation by most and sparingly by those who suffer from hypothyroidism. Soy has a high allergenic potential as well, so if you have other food allergies or a family history of food allergies, you may want to be careful and pay special attention to see if you have any reaction. If you are allergic to other legumes, such as beans, peas and peanut, you are more likely to be allergic to soy as well.
 
Another word of caution about soy: Soy contains phytoestrogens that may have an impact on our hormonal system, and anti-nutrients that may affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals. The problem with most commercially available soy products today lies in the fact that a majority of them are highly processed, without having gone through the traditional process that can remove their anti-nutrients. Soy protein isolates, found in many processed and packaged foods, are highly concentrated. These processed soy products are very new to our diet, so their effects on our body are essentially unknown. Also note that a lot of the soy in our food chain today is genetically modified, and again, this is so new to us as a species that we just can’t be sure if there is any negative health impact for our body.
Friday, 17 November 2017 14:53

Leaky Gut and Food Allergies

 
 
I knew from a young age that milk just didn't do my body good.  I would get stomach aches and then have to run to the bathroom.  Over time left untreated, I developed other food sensitivities and leaky gut.
 
Our intestines are designed to be impermeable to large protein molecules that our body may mistake as “invaders” and launch an “attack” by producing antibodies, which lead to allergic reactions. Modern diet, lifestyle and medications often times compromise the permeability of our digestive tract, creating what is known as the “leaky gut” syndrome. When the gut becomes permeable to larger protein molecules, they can get into our bloodstream and trigger an immune response, resulting in symptoms of food allergies.
 
Here are some strategies to help protect and heal the digestive tract:
 
Maintain Healthy Gut Flora:
  • Increase intake of probiotics, eat foods such as yogurt, kefir, natto, kimchi and sauerkraut.
  • Eat fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
  • Avoid antibiotics, birth control and NSAIDs
 
Reduce Inflammation:
  • Use herbs such as slippery elm and marshmallow roots, which helps coat and heal the intestinal lining and reduce inflammation
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids – supplement at therapeutic dosage, cold water fish, walnuts, and flaxseed to help support the immune system and reduce inflammation (EPA in particular helps reduce inflammation)
 
Reduce Irritations:
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, including refined sugar – which irritates the intestinal lining
  • Avoid alcohol, which is an irritant
  • Avoid caffeine, which irritates the gut and dehydrates the body
 
Positive Lifestyle Changes:
  • Reduce stress
  • Practice mindful eating
  • Chew well
 
Book your Food Sensitivity Screening today.
 
Reference:
http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-5-heal-your-gut
Thursday, 19 October 2017 21:19

Warm Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

 
 1/2 cup quinoa cooked in one cup of broth or water
 
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and roasted in oven till soft at 350C for about 50 minutes.
(I sprinkled cardamom on mine)
 
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp grated ginger root
1 tbsp coconut oil
Saute above ingredients till soft
 
Wash and chop into large pieces 6-8 large leaves of Kale.
 
Assemble the cooked quinoa, cooked sweet potatoes and sauted onion, garlic and ginger root into a roasting pan, I used a square stone.  Mix in the raw kale and add about 4- 8 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 4-8 tbsp of olive oil or melted coconut oil, 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  You can add more spice if you like such as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and/or nutmeg.  I added some epicure Thai seasoning this time.
 
Throw in the oven at 350C till the kale is softened through. 
I actually turned it down to about 200 and let it sit for about an hour till dinner was ready.
 
Top with greens and add a chicken breast for a complete meal.