Prolonged Sitting Now Considered As Hazardous To Your Health As Smoking?

 

I know I’ve been spending too much time on the computer the last couple of years and have started seeing and feeling the side effects, especially in my legs and veins. I’ve read a number of times lately that prolonged sitting can be as detrimental to our health as smoking and, judging from my own body, I can see why. I use to think that exercising at the end of the day would off-set any negative effects of spending so many hours seated, but have since found out that isn’t the case. It is much better to have multiple short periods of activity interspersed throughout the day, than one heavy duty session at the end. “Fidgeting” (e. g. moving your feet, flexing your toes and calves, etc.) while seated has also been found to be of help.

By Dr. Mercola 

Is it possible to be incredibly fit yet still be at high risk of premature death and disability due to inactivity?

Startling as that may sound, mounting research says, yes, as does Dr. James Levine, author of the book Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.

Dr. Levine is co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative, and he’s also the inventor of the treadmill desk. His book is quite an interesting read. It reminds me of the similar paths I went through in my journey to help people understand new paradigms of health.

Like any novel concept, there’s resistance from the existing paradigm to change, accept, and embrace that which is new. And Dr. Levine has certainly suffered the slings and arrows of being on the cutting edge of a new paradigm.

But it’s a phenomenal story, and I for one am now absolutely convinced that sitting is in and of itself a root problem of many of our chronic health problems. As Dr. Levine says: “Because we’ve become so used to being seated… we’ve failed to realize that this is a major health concern.”

Now that I know the serious damage that sitting can do, I am really perplexed at how I missed such an important health principle for the first 60 years of my life. It seems a really foolish mistake and one that I hope you will not repeat.

Slings and Arrows…

In one of his early speeches, he presented compelling data showing that people prone to weight gain and obesity are those who stay seated for two and a quarter hours longer each day than those who go to the gym and happen to be lean.

The insinuation that sitting was independently harmful, and harmful enough to kill, was so unpopular that his peers sent letters to senior faculty at the Mayo Clinic suggesting he was psychiatrically ill, and he was required to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Since then, some 10,000 publications have shown that, indeed, sitting is harmful to your health, irrespective of other lifestyle habits, including an excellent exercise program.

The simple truth is that sitting is affecting the health of millions of Americans and millions of people in high- and middle-income countries around the world. This unlike other things, is something we can do something about.

And I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Levine when he says that this is something we must act upon. Fortunately, the solution is simple: simply stand up! And avoid sitting down!

“My core cause is the patient who has been battling with obesity, who has been battling with type 2 diabetes, and who doesn’t go to the gym for various reasons: a) they may not be able to afford it; b) they may not actually have access; c) they may have three jobs and do not have the time.

And fourth… many people who have excess weight feel looked upon badly and have bad feelings about themselves when they enter the hallowed territory of the gymnasium. The 75 percent of Americans – more in fact – who do not exercise regularly are my core cause,” Dr. Levine says.

An Exercise Regimen May Not Be Enough to Counteract Ill Effects of Prolonged Sitting

While it appears counter intuitive, it also turns out that regular exercise does not protect you from the hazards of prolonged sitting. For Dr. Levine, this was a rather upsetting discovery, as it was for me when I first learned this a few years ago.

It can be quite disconcerting to realize that even if you dutifully go to the gym several times a week and are really fit, it is still not enough to counteract the many hours you sit during the rest of your day…

“There are a couple of important points,” he says. “First of all, if you go to the gym, that does do you good. In fact, that is a phenomenal dose-response relationship. The more you do, the more benefit you get.

That does not, however, relinquish you from the responsibility of being active throughout the day or of realizing the opportunities to be active throughout the day.

What is interesting is that the molecular mechanisms that come into play when somebody sits for hours on end, if you think about it, are actually not reversed by allowing all of that sedentariness to occur and then having a bout of activity in the evening or even in the morning.

It’s the hours of inactivity that are associated with the molecular mechanisms at the cellular level that are associated with causality for diabetes, hypertension, and even potentially cancer and other deleterious effects.”

Why Sitting Causes So Much Harm, and Why Standing Promotes Physical Health

According to Dr. Levine, there are at least 24 different chronic diseases and conditions associated with excess sitting. How do we reconcile and explain how something so simple can have such a massive expanse of ill health consequence?

According to Dr. Levine, when you have been sitting for a long period of time and then get up, at a molecular level, within 90 seconds of getting off your bottom, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol—which are mediated by insulin—are activated.

As soon as you stand up, a series of molecular mechanisms at the cell level set off a cascade of activities that impact the cellular functioning of your muscles. The way your body handles blood sugar is beneficially impacted, for example. Therefore, the disease prevention for diabetes comes into play. All of these molecular effects are activated simply by weight-bearing; by carrying your bodyweight upon your legs. Those cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuels into your cells.

“It makes perfect sense,” Dr. Levine says. “If you’ve been resting after a hard morning’s work and then you get back on your legs in order to go back into the fields, of course, your whole body system is to be pushing what you’ve just had for lunch into your muscle, into your body so that you can function well in agricultural practice, which, up until 200 years ago, was what the human body ultimately functioned to do.

The nature of the human body was to be active and moving all day. The body was never designed to be crammed into a chair where all of these cellular mechanisms get switched off. Obviously we’re supposed to rest from time to time. But that rest is supposed to break up the activity. It’s not supposed to be the way of life. [T]his very unnatural [sitting] posture is not only bad for your back, your wrists, your arms, and your metabolism, but it actually switches off the fundamental fueling systems that integrate what’s going on in the bloodstream with what goes on in the muscles and in the tissues.

As a consequence of that, blood sugar levels are inappropriately high in people who sit. The blood pressure is inappropriately high, the cholesterol handling is inappropriately high, and those toxins, those growth factors that will potentially lead to cancer, particularly breast cancer, are elevated in those people who sit too much. The solution? Get up!”

Studies looking at life in natural agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. The average American office worker can sit for 13 to 15 hours a day. The difference between a “natural” amount of sitting and modern, inappropriate amounts of sitting is huge. So, when trying to determine what the “minimum dose of standing” might be, it’s important to realize that most people are not dealing with a minor tweak… Most people need to figure out how to get out of their chair for several hours each day. But as a general guideline, to give you a starting point, Dr. Levine notes:

The bottom-line is that if you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve been sitting for too long. We should all be up at least 10 minutes out of every hour.”

I’ve previously recommended standing up and doing some exercises at your desk every 10-15 minutes to counteract the ill effects of sitting, but after discussing the issue with Dr. Levine and reading his book, I’m convinced this isn’t even enough. I really think the answer is to stand up as much as possible. Standing for 10 minutes for every hour of sitting is really the bare bones minimum; it’s still far from ideal. It would seem far wiser to strive to sit as little as possible, certainly less than three hours a day.

I was able to reduce my normal 12 to 14 hours of daily sitting to under one hour. And I noticed one amazing thing: the back pain I’ve struggled with for many years, simply disappeared. It would normally start after I’d walk or stand for more than 30 minutes, but since I reduced my sitting, the pain disappeared.

I had previously tried four different chiropractors, posture exercises, Foundation Training, ab work, inversion tables, standing up every 15 minutes to stretch, and strength training. But nothing would touch it, other than to radically reduce my sitting. During my coast to coast trip, I would have to sit on a plane for five hours and I noticed when I did that, the pain returned for a day. Clearly, my body was speaking to my very strongly that I needed to radically reduce my sitting. I am still surprised I missed this important health principle for so long.

Another recent epiphany I had is that most of us need to walk much more than we do. Thankfully, there are now fitness trackers that allow us to objectively record how much we walk and there will be a literal explosion of the use of these devices in the next few years. The Apple Watch being launched next year is a good example. Most of us need about 10,000 steps a day, which is a bit more than five miles (8-9 km). The key realization I had though is that this walking is in addition to, not in place of, your normal exercise program. It’s even better if you can walk barefoot so you can get grounded, and better yet if you can walk on the beach by the ocean.

Making It Work in the Work Place…

Not only do studies show that body weight improves when people stand up more during their work hours, productivity also goes up in companies that make such arrangements. As noted by Dr. Levine:

“Hardcore productivity – whether that’s the number of loads processed in one company, the financial services doubling in profit from another company – those numbers improved. The actual profits improved… The solution is simple, because actually the solution is to get people up. But the complexity – hence the book Get Up! – is: How do you actually build a working solution for a US corporation?

Are You Ready to Give Up Your Chair?

The evidence is overwhelming at this point—10,000 studies and growing—that prolonged sitting is devastating to your health. It actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including overweight and type 2 diabetes. As a general guideline, if you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve sat too long. Dr. Levine recommends sitting no more than 50 minutes out of every hour. But that’s really a bare bones minimum recommendation. Ideally, you’d want to limit sitting altogether.

Again, people living in agricultural communities sit an average of just three hours a day, which would be an admirable goal. While it may sound “impossible,” it is doable—with a bit of ingenuity and mindfulness, I managed to limit my sitting to one hour per day while on my coast to coast tour. In addition to limiting your sitting as much as you possibly can, I also recommend challenging yourself to walk 10,000 steps per day. This is over and above your regular fitness program and standing up during work. Consider one of the new fitness trackers that can monitor your steps and your sleep.

Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/28/dangers-prolonged-sitting.aspx

Also from  Dr. Mercola:

The science is equally clear when it comes to inactivity. Chronic sitting actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, even if you’re very fit and exercise regularly, so simply standing up more is a step in the right direction.

One recent study showed that standing for at least six hours a day may reduce your risk of obesity by 32 to 35 percent depending on your gender. Men can reduce their risk of obesity by as much as 59 percent by standing 12 hours a day.

In fact, standing up as much as possible appears to be a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle that promotes longevity. It’s not only that exercise has benefits, but that inactivity has significant dangers. Thirty years ago, research from Cooper’s clinic in Dallas showed that exercise was associated with a dramatic reduction in the rate of cancer. This is a well-accepted, non-controversial scientific fact, and it goes beyond its effects on obesity.

Today, I believe I finally understand the mechanisms responsible for these results, and it’s because exercise upregulates dysfunctional mitochondria. I now firmly believe mitochondrial health is the core of most cancers. Mitochondrial dysfunction is what causes the genetic problems. It’s not the genetic problems that cause the cancer.

And mitochondrial dysfunction is what you prevent with exercise. I’d never recognized that before, but now it seems quite clear that this is how it works.

Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/13/how-not-to-die.aspx

More on the ill effects of sitting too much:

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/10/16/excessive-sitting-damages-blood-vessels

http://consciouslifenews.com/sitting-make-anxiety-worse/1197725/

http://themindunleashed.org/2015/04/this-is-what-sitting-for-too-long-can-do-to-your-body.html

Tips for proper sitting:

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/5-yogic-tips-sit-smarter-desk/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N150301

Related article on how standing helps with longevity and length of telomeres:

http://www.naturalnews.com/048766_standing_longevity_telomeres.html

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/7-ways-sitting-destroys-your-health/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N150429

 What’s nice is apparently even doing 2 minutes of light intensity activity, such as walking, every hour (see this article) can defend against sitting’s increase in your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other ills. I have a free app on my computer called Mindful Clock that makes a lovely chiming sound on the hour (it can be set to ring more frequently) that is not only good for reminding me to stop and recenter myself regularly, but also to get up and do a little moving around. I have a link to the download on my Resources page.

Also, here’s a routine from Dr Kareem F Samhouri to try for counteracting long periods of sitting….

Do THIS If You Sit More Than 4 Hours Per Day

If you spend more than 4 hours per day sitting—especially all at once—your body is doing the following:

1. Attempting to lay down bone in your hip flexors, thereby making them tight. 2. Causing muscles in the back of your leg to get tighter, and feel achy. 3. Placing pressure on your low back, by arching it with tight hip flexors.
4. Placing pressure on your mid-back, as a result of a tight low back.

This cycle can be broken, but there’s a good reason you might be feeling a bit sore or achy at times. In fact, you might even feel your neck crack or pop, a twinge from time-to-time, or a hesitation to push on an exercise, workout, or sport because your body is ‘telling’ you something. I know what’s it’s telling you: you’re wound up, not old.

Follow these 3 steps to ‘unwind’ and give your body a chance to feel young and mobile again—it’s the simple movements we lose that change the game for us:

Step 1: Jump on/off of something (example exercise: box jump)

Find a sturdy surface—for example, by placing a bench next to a wall—and attempt to jump on and off of it. At first, you might start with it at about 6 inches off the ground, or not even have a bench to jump on or off. After a short time, the goal should be to jump on and off something that is 2-3 feet off the ground, without any trouble, spotting, or hesitation.

Step 2: Get on and off the ground (example exercise: turkish getup)

Our ability to get on/off the ground is one of the most complex movements to coordinate. By warming up with a short walk and then getting on/off the ground as an exercise, you are creating a surge of neurological potential to your muscles, and improving your balance, coordination, and muscle timing all at once.

Step 3: Reach, hold, and then reach further(example exercise: swimming or yoga)

There is a principle called the CREEP Principle, and it suggests that your body will respond to slow and steady stretch over time. By reaching as far as you can, whether while you’re bearing weight or not, your body is forced to adjust and stabilize. Then, reaching further, it strives to accomplish the same. The key factor is that each time, it is learning about a new position, recruiting muscles to protect you, and allowing you to go a bit further. Many times, there’s no physiological reason why you can’t move more easily; rather, your body has forgotten how. This step is about reminding your body how to move beyond its comfort zone with ease and confidence.

*NOTE:

It’s best to go for a 5-20 minute walk before doing any of the above exercises, in order to be adequately warm and get the most benefit as fast as possible. Of course, if you have any pain or fear injury, do not exercise without consulting with your physician or physical therapist first.

When you move like a child again, and then you add resistance and intensity, your body grows, heals, and disrupts its pattern of breakdown; in actuality, you are reversing your health momentum by having fun and doing things that are natural, feel good, and offer you a mental break from your day.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my new website Evolution Made Easier and blog of the same name for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

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JP Sears Takes On The American Heart Association, Plus The Health Benefits Of Almonds

 

Okay, today we’ll interject some humor into the mix with one of the latest videos in JP Sears’ Ultra Spiritual series. This time he uses his tongue-in-cheek delivery style to focus on coconut oil, heart health and the terrible job the American Heart Association is doing in providing us with unbiased, accurate information. He always manages to stimulate, inform and get his point across, while making me laugh at the same time.

Hey, they say laughter is the best medicine, so you might end up a little healthier just from watching this. 🙂

 

Related Self-help Health post:  Coconut Oil:Yummiest Health Aid Ever

And speaking of foods that help prevent or off-set heart disease, look no further than tasty, versatile almonds. I remember years ago reading where Edgar Cayce, aka “The Sleeping Prophet,” recommended eating 2 to 3 almonds a day as a cancer preventative, but this article from the Food Revolution Network focuses on the heart and cardiovascular benefits of eating a handful daily. Eating almonds on a regular basis could also help with type 2 diabetes, eye issues, weight loss and more…….

Health benefits of almonds

By GreenMedInfo Research Group • Originally published on GreenMedInfo.com

Almonds are familiar to many people as a healthy food, but how exactly do they affect our health? Rich in many compounds that can be lacking in a Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated S.A.D.), almonds can be a tasty solution to many of the chronic health conditions and diseases seen today.

Almonds are one of those nutrient-dense foods that can be hard to stop munching on once you’re crunching on the first one or two. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of creamy homemade almond milk, taking your first bite of strawberry-topped almond meal pancakes, or enjoying stir fry sprinkled with slivered almonds, you’re not just satisfying your appetite, you’re deliciously optimizing your health.

Seeds carry all of the nutrients and genetic information required to grow and develop, so too does the almond bring vital health knowledge in the form of antioxidants, heart healthy fats, protein, and inorganic compounds like minerals, which are crucial to life as we know it.

How can something so small have effects so large when it comes to addressing serious health concerns? While we may never know the full biochemical explanations behind each way the almond fulfills its triumphant quest for homeostatic health, we can continue to sing its praises and enjoy a handful a day without remorse.

According to the CDC, over 600,000 people succumb to heart disease every year, which accounts for roughly 25% of the total annual deaths. So why don’t doctors prescribe a daily handful of almonds instead of a pharmaceutical for cholesterol issues?

High cholesterol has been seen as a primary cause of heart disease and is often treated with a class of drugs called statins. While statins shut down the enzyme pathway that synthesizes cholesterol, they also wipe out the highway to producing CoQ10 (an essential enzyme for producing energy in the body), and sometimes that damage is irreversible.

But naturally, there is a much safer solution that can be grown at home, purchased at the local grocery store, or health food store. One of the clinical studies on almonds and improvements in HDL cholesterol used only 10g of almonds per day, which is roughly 12-15 almonds, and this study was in patients who had pre-existing coronary artery disease.

Not only did HDL cholesterol improve, but there were reductions in triglycerides, total cholesterol including LDL cholesterol and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), and the atherogenic index, which is strongly correlated with chronic inflammation and the development of vascular diseases [Jamshed, 2015].

Another health crisis emerging onto the global stage is type 2 diabetes, which is justly titled a pandemic [Hu, 2015]. The number of people worldwide projected to have type 2 diabetes by 2035 is almost 600 million, what a staggering statistic, and that’s not even considering the health care costs associated with diabetes.

While an imbalanced diet can be a causative factor in type 2 diabetes, nutritional improvements can reverse some of the harmful changes. Diabetes is a disease of improper glucose (sugar) metabolism, and is generally preceded by a cluster of conditions called metabolic syndrome. While the pharmaceutical model may target a disease from one pathway or direction, the almond has innumerable approaches to countering imbalance and restoring homeostasis.

Consuming just 60g (about 2 ounces) of almonds daily for four-weeks showed reductions in insulin resistance, fasting insulin and glucose. Other health outcomes that demonstrated improvements were cholesterol ratios, body fat percentage, and nutritional status (magnesium, fiber, fatty acid profile, etc.) [Sing-Chung, 2011].

The doctrine of signatures, dating back to the first century AD, is upheld in the carrot and almond’s uncanny resemblance to the human eye. While carrots may be the best-known food that benefits the eyes, almond’s have their own pedestal to stand on. Not just an adjective for eye color, almonds are incredibly important for proper functioning of our eyes. Our eyes are exposed to numerous chemicals and toxins that evade our five sense detection. The vasculature of our eyes contains some of the smallest blood vessels in our body, and when damage occurs, repair can be difficult, if not impossible.

Rich in vitamin E, almonds can help prevent abnormal changes to the lens, which can accelerate the development of cataracts. A study conducted in Finland concluded that, “a low plasma vitamin E level (lower quartile) was associated with a 3.7-fold excess risk (95% confidence interval 1.2-11.8) of the progression of early cortical lens opacities compared with the highest quartile (p = 0.028)” [Rouhiainen P, 1996].

We know the old adage, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” but imagine what an apple covered in almond butter would do to the pharmaceutical industry.

In a 2015 study, eating  cup of almonds (43g) with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a standalone snack reduced blood sugar, and the snacking group of participants actually showed the largest decrease.

“DISCUSSION: Snacking reportedly increases the risk for weight gain, but such a broad generalization may mask differential responses to selected foods. This study compared the acute post-ingestive and the short-term effects of incorporating almonds in a meal or consuming them alone as snacks. It also allowed the assessment of possible physiological adaptations to almond consumption that could accentuate or diminish behavioral responses after 4 weeks of daily ingestion [Chen, 2015].”

It’s best to find imported Italian or Spanish almonds and sprout them for several hours or overnight (read more here). Depending on which health outcome you’re searching for, a mere 10-60g of almonds (the range used in the aforementioned studies) incorporated into your diet can ameliorate type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eye issues, and many other health conditions.

Food should taste good, but more importantly, it should relay valuable biologic information that with each bite can positively affect our state of being. So keep almonds in your desk, purse, backpack, cupboard, and close to your heart, because they’ll be protecting yours.


From the editor: An important note about raw almonds:

In the last decade, it has become difficult to find healthy, raw, organic almonds. Almonds grown in the U.S. make up 80% of the world’s almond supply. But in 2007, the USDA made it a requirement that all almonds commercially sold in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico must be pasteurized. If they’re not steamed, they must be fumigated with a chemical called propylene oxide or PPO.

Pasteurized almonds and almond butter may still confer significant health benefits – but if you prefer truly raw almonds, what’s the best option?

You may find almonds that claim to be “raw,” but companies can make this claim, even if it isn’t true, because no labeling requirement exists. In reality, “raw” may simply mean pasteurized with steam, as opposed to the “roasted” flavor in roasted almond butter. If the almonds you find are grown in the U.S., most likely they are pasteurized. If you want truly raw almonds, you may have to choose almonds that are imported from Spain or Italy because they are not subject to these same requirements.

As pointed out in a GreenMedInfo article, there is one “secret” exception to the U.S. mandate about almond pasteurization. The only way to purchase raw, unpasteurized almonds grown in the U.S. is to buy directly from the farmer who grows them. The author mentions Bremner Farms as an option for raw, organic, unpasteurized almonds and other nuts. You can find other options online as well – including potentially through a farmer’s market.

Source: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/almond-health-benefits/

AND another way to promote cardiovascular health is by taking a certain type of probiotic called Lactobacillus plantarum. You can read more about the research behind it here:

http://doctormurray.com/probiotics-can-affect-more-than-just-digestion/

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Let’s Hear It For Red Onions!!

 

I knew red onions were good for us, partly because they are in the same family as that health-promoting powerhouse garlic, but I didn’t know they had as many health benefits as they do. And I’m so glad to find that out, because awhile back I found a simple recipe for pickled red onions that I just love and eat almost daily. 

 

HEALTH BENEFITS OF RED ONION: 4 WAYS RED ONIONS REDUCE YOUR CANCER RISK

Today researchers believe that up to 40% of cancers are preventable with a change in dietary habits alone. The compounds and dietary nutrients found in red onion are associated with a decrease risk in developing prostate, colorectal, stomach, and numerous other cancers.

Read on to learn what makes red onions so effective at improving health and how they can help reduce your cancer risks.

What are Red Onions?

Thoughts of their distinctive odor and teary eyes probably comes to mind when you think of slicing into an onion, but how about red onions? Red onions are different than other varieties of onion such as the sweet Vidalia onion and the milder flavor white onion.

Aside from their flavor and color, red onions won’t make you cry and they also contain different compounds that can inhibit cancer growth. They are part of the collective family of flowering plants belonging to the allium family, known for their rich content in sulfur containing amino acids. This vegetable family has been extensively studied for its protection against degenerative diseases like cancer.

Read on for 4 key health benefits of red onions…

Health Benefit #1: Enhances Detoxification Pathways

The total antioxidant profile of red onions is suggested to increase the activity of powerhouses like glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase). These defense systems protect against cancer by inhibiting inflammation, repairing DNA and tissue damage, neutralizing free radicals, eliminating carcinogens from the liver, and supporting a variety of detoxification pathways that remove toxins from the body.

The high sulfur content of red onions alone supports the body’s natural ability to detox. Sulfur stimulates several anti-inflammatory processes which promote healing by enforcing antioxidant defenses. Sulfur is one of the best chelating agents that binds with heavy metals in the blood and flushes these toxins from the body. Sulfur is essential to the health and activity of hormones, enzymes, nerves, and red blood cells.

Any interference with these biological processes can lead to the accumulation of carcinogens and the increased inflammation and tissue damage that consequentially increase cancer risks.

Onions are also rich in quercetin, a powerful bioflavonoid. Quercetin aids in the removal of excessive estrogen levels from the body. This antioxidant also stimulates liver function to detoxify estrogen and other carcinogenic agents. Cancer cells of the uterus, breast, ovaries, and prostate are associated with having receptors for estrogen to bind.

Quercetin also exhibits structural similarities to estrogen making them a possible anti-cancer therapy treatment to target breast cancer cells.

Health Benefit #2: Increases Overall Immunity

Red onions contain health-promoting compounds that improve your overall immune response. Both nutritive and non-nutritive compounds found in red onions act on the body using antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral effects to reduce the burden on the immune system. The flavonoid content that contributes to these chemo-preventive properties is higher in red onions than in their white or yellow family members.

Allicin is an antioxidant compound abundantly concentrated in red onions. Allicin is effective at destroying pathogens that weaken the immune response and support cancer development. It combats fungus, bacteria, and viruses. For these reasons red onions are a useful carminative herb that enhances digestive function and improves imbalances in gut microflora.

Along with improving natural abilities to detox, quercetin also has a major impact on reducing inflammation. Quercetin is such a strong anti-inflammatory agent that supplements of this compound are marketed to improve the inflammatory immune cell response associated with histamine release.

Health Benefit #3: Regulates Sugar Levels

One of the benefits of consuming red onions instead of yellow or white is attributed to their low glycemic index. Red onions have a glycemic index (GI) of 10 on a scale of 0 to 100. This means that red onions are slower to release energy which increases blood glucose levels. Eating foods which don’t raise blood glucose if beneficial in preventing the development of type-2 diabetes.

Impaired glucose metabolism is one known contributor of cancer development. Maintaining stable insulin levels is critical to preventing physiological processes that can contribute to cancer. The low GI of red onions is associated with lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow, inhibiting atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries), and also assists in regulating fat cell formation.

These vascular health benefits significantly reduce cancer risk because they are linked with an improvement in metabolism. This impacts hormone function and the health of reproductive organs.

All of this combined with the anti-inflammatory properties of quercetin allow red onions to help to neutralize free radicals that contribute to DNA damage, abnormal cell activity, and cancer growth.

Health Benefit #4: Suppresses Cancer Cell Growth and Development

The high levels of quercetin in red onion was given the credit in certain studies for protecting against laryngeal and gastric cancer, as well as reproductive-related cancers.

Protects against Mutant p53 Activity

Anthocyanins are a naturally occurring compound that give red onions their red hued purple color. Anthocyanins act as a powerful antioxidant weapon in the fight against a mutant gene called p53 that causes oxidative stress and is associated with tumor growth. Anthocyanins in red onion naturally inhibit the destruction that the abnormal functioning p53 gene can cause on cells and tissue.

red-onion-health-benefits-3

 

INHIBITS TUMOR GROWTH & METASTASIS

The pigmenting compounds in anthocyanins are also partly responsible for the protective effects red onions exert against tumor growth. Anthocyanins suppress a cancer cell’s ability to migrate and form tumors by inhibiting angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels that cancer cell’s use as an energy source to grow. By inhibiting angiogenesis, cancer cells cannot form tumors or spread to new areas of the body.The super nutrient quercetin again reveals its powerful antioxidant potential.

Quercetin is so effective at scavenging free radicals that it possesses the ability to prevent tumor cell growth. These influences have been reported in breast cancer cells to induce apoptosis (“cellular suicide”) and activate a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (p21) that shuts down many of the influences that enables cancer cells to proliferate.

The loss of expression or abnormal activity from p21 is implicated at increasing the risk of invasive cancer growth and is associated with the following cancer types:

  • Colorectal
  • Tonsil
  • Gastric
  • Breast
  • Ovarian
  • Esophageal
  • Oral
  • Lung
  • Pancreatic
  • Laryngeal
  • Bladder
  • Gliomas (tumor formation in the brain and spinal cord)
  • Cervical
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer)

 3 Recommendations to Reap the Most Benefits of Red Onions:

As with many foods, there are tricks to cooking red onions to receive the greatest health benefits. Here are a few tips you can utilize to ensure that you are receiving the highest amount of nutrients from red onions in the kitchen:

  1. The majority of the anthocyanin content is in the red skin of the onion. Avoid over peeling the onion and throwing these cancer-fighting compounds in the compost.
  2. The allicin compound in onions is released only when the onion is chopped or crushed. Like garlic, it is beneficial to activate the allicin compound by slicing into an onion a few minutes before adding it to recipes.
  3. Heat degrades many of the antioxidants in red onions. Eating them uncooked as often as possible optimizes the nutrients you are consuming. Consider cooking red onions at a low heat and avoiding high temperatures to limit nutrient loss.

Getting More Health Benefits From Red Onions

How will you include red onions into your diet to reduce your cancer risks? Here is a list of ways that you can add red onions to your diet every day:

  • Add to chili recipes or use as a topping
  • Finely slice into salads
  • Combine into homemade slaws or pickled vegetables
  • Add red onions to the last 2 hours that your bone broth is simmering
  • Mix red onions with the traditional yellow onions into a French onion soup
  • Prepare cold soups such as gazpacho as a hidden way to serve up raw red onion
  • Lightly sauté or roast and use in mixed veggie sides, atop burgers, or in quinoa dishes
  • Dice into chicken and tuna salads or prepare a homemade salsa
  • Blend raw red onion into a creamy guacamole or give other dips and sauces a new take on flavor by pureeing into hummus, tahini, or a Mediterranean baba ghanoush

Source: https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/health-benefits-red-onion/

Here’s a yummy sounding recipe I plan to try that uses a whole red onion. And to see the recipe for pickled onions that I mentioned in my intro, check out Tip #7 in this Self-help Health post.

This Creamy Vegan Coconut Chickpea Curry is the BEST curry I've ever had! It's loaded with homemade grinded spices and incredibly flavorful!

COCONUT CHICKPEA CURRY (VEGAN & GLUTEN FREE)

Preparation 15 min Cook Time 30 min
Serves 4-5     ADJUST SERVINGS
All this Creamy Vegan Coconut Chickpea Curry takes is one pot, it’s loaded with homemade ground spices’ and incredibly flavorful!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons oil to sauté
  • 2 mediums onions/1 large red onion, sliced
  • 14 ounces/400g fresh tomatoes, diced (if using canned, drain the tomatoes)
  • sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces/454g can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 13.5 ounces/383g can coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons coconut flour
  • 1 small lime

Check out the link below for a cooking video and more on the recipe. Apparently the squeeze of lime at the end is very important. 🙂 

Source: http://jessicainthekitchen.com/coconut-chickpea-curry-recipe/

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Free HealthType Test™ And Report, Natural Appetite Suppressants, Plus 15 Healthy Dessert Recipes

 

Here’s what I think is a great free health resource from the folks at ph360. It’s an easy, 3 minute quiz you take to determine your health type, which then generates a 15 page report with information, insights and tips about how to work with your particular type to be happier, healthier and more self-aware. I found it fascinating that, based on my answers to the short quiz, the report was “right on” in so many ways. AND it provided me with a number of “a-ha moments” and tips about when to eat, sleep, exercise and more. It also validated certain things I’ve been drawn to do, even though they may not match what most healthcare practitioners advocate. Just proves that everybody and every body is different, and doing what’s right for YOU isn’t necessarily what’s good/right for others …..

 

image

The HealthType Test™ is a 3 minute online quiz that calculates your Health Type and then gives you a 15 page report on how you can eat, socialize, be active and live your life in a way that comes naturally to you!

 

Watch the HealthType webinar replay in the private ph360 FB group. Not a member yet? No worries, request to join for free here.

Go here to take the test: https://healthtype.ph360.me/test


 

A great little (well, actually rather large :-)) infographic by PlantBasedVillage.com I got from a newsletter from Underground Health Reporter…. 


 

And here’s what looks to be a good resource if you’re a dessert lover like me, but also want to be as healthy as possible. I checked out a number of the recipes from this post and they look and sound good, plus reasonably healthy. Anyone for salted caramel tahini cups? Yes, please! :-)…….

clean dessert tahinicups

Go here for 15 recipes: http://www.purewow.com/food/clean-eating-dessert-recipes

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

 Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Vague About The Vagus? Read This! Plus Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

 

I don’t know about you, but even though I’ve heard of the vagus nerve, I really didn’t know much about what it was and why it was so important. So I was glad to come across this article featured on RealFarmacy.com, which includes helpful information and easy ways to influence “vagal tone” and improve a number of health conditions……

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6 WAYS TO INSTANTLY STIMULATE YOUR VAGUS NERVE TO RELIEVE INFLAMMATION, DEPRESSION, MIGRAINES AND MORE

I read an article yesterday that has me extremely excited about the implications. The article is called “Hacking the Nervous System” by Gaia Vince (http://mosaicscience.com/story/hacking-nervous-system). In the article, the author describes the experience of a woman who suffered from severe, debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and her eventual treatment with a device which minimized inflammation by simply stimulating the vagus nerve. What this means, is that by activating the vagus nerve, which works through the parasympathetic nervous system, we can greatly influence inflammation and the immune system. The role of the brain on body inflammation can be profound. If you suffer from digestive complaints, high blood pressure, depression or any inflammatory condition, please read on. Let me explain the possible implications step by step.

What is the vagus nerve?

First of all, the vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body which originates in the brain as cranial nerve ten, travels down from the neck and then passes around the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart and lungs. This nerve is a major player in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the ‘rest and digest’ part (opposite to the sympathetic nervous system which is ‘fight of flight’).

Vagal Tone

The tone of the vagus nerve is key to activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Vagal tone is measured by tracking your heart-rate alongside your breathing rate. Your heart-rate speeds up a little when your breathe in, and slows down a little when you breathe out. The bigger the difference between your inhalation heart-rate and your exhalation heart-rate, the higher your vagal tone. Higher vagal tone means that your body can relax faster after stress.

What is high vagal tone associated with?

High vagal tone improves the function of many body systems, causing better blood sugar regulation, reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, improved digestion via better production of stomach basic and digestive enzymes, and reduced migraines. Higher vagal tone is also associated with better mood, less anxiety and more stress resilience. One of the most interesting roles of the vagus nerve is that it essentially reads the gut microbiome and initiates a response to modulate inflammation based on whether or not it detects pathogenic versus non-pathogenic organisms. In this way, the gut microbiome can have an affect on your mood, stress levels and overall inflammation.

What is low vagal tone associated with?

Low vagal tone is associated with cardiovascular conditions and strokes, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, and much higher rates of inflammatory conditions. Inflammatory conditions include all autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, autoimmune thyroid conditions, lupus and more).

How do we increase vagal tone?

In the article above, vagal tone was increased through a device that stimulated the vagus nerve. The good news is that you have access to this on your own, but it does require regular practice. To some degree, you are genetically predisposed to varying levels of vagal tone, but this still doesn’t mean that you can’t change it. Here are some ways to tone the vagus nerve:

1. Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm, rather than shallowly from the top of the lungs stimulates and tones the vagus nerve.

2. Humming. Since the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords, humming mechanically stimulates it. You can hum a song, or even better repeat the sound ‘OM’.

3. Speaking. Similarly speaking is helpful for vagal tone, due to the connection to the vocal cords.

4. Washing your face with cold water. The mechanism here is not known, but cold water on your face stimulates the vagus nerve.

5. Meditation, especially loving kindness meditation which promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself and others. A 2010 study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kik found that increasing positive emotions led to increased social closeness, and an improvement in vagal tone.

6. Balancing the gut microbiome. The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a positive feedback loop through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone.

The implications of such simple and basic practices on your overall health, and in particular on inflammation, are far-reaching. If you suffer from an inflammatory condition, digestive upset, high blood pressure or depression, a closer look at vagal tone is highly recommended. We’ve known for years that breathing exercises and meditation are helpful for our health, but it is so fascinating to learn the mechanism by which they work. I hope this short article has inspired you to begin a meditation practice, as it has for me, and also to look for other means to manage the body’s inflammatory response.

Source: darouwellness.com

Go here for more on the vagus nerve and its connection with emotional health, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, and go here for more ways to stimulate the vagus, including a chart showing reflexology points to use.


 

And here’s a tasty-looking, healthy recipe from Dr. Mercola’s site for you to try…..

baked sweet potato

Potatoes can be turned into delicious and savory treats, but common choices like fries and chips are cooked in harmful trans-fats. For a nutritious version, try this Loaded Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes recipe from Greatist. This baked dish can be served as a game day snack or as a side dish for the whole family.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • ½ cup diced bell peppers
  • 2/3 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Salsa
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • Cilantro, to garnish (optional)

Be sure to use organic ingredients!

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a fork to prick holes in potatoes. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until flesh is soft.
  2. Meanwhile, combine peppers, black beans, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside to let flavors develop.
  3. Remove sweet potatoes from oven. Cut slits down each lengthwise, and pull apart to create a well for fillings.
  4. Spoon 2 tablespoons salsa and bean mixture into each potato. Top with avocado and cilantro, if desired.

Get Your Fill of Health Benefits With Loaded Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to potatoes because they have more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can improve eye health. Plus, beta-carotene, the antioxidant responsible for sweet potatoes’ orange hue, fights cell-damaging free radicals, supports your immune system, and lessens your risk of heart disease and cancer. Just make sure to eat sweet potatoes in moderation, because they contain fructose.

Bell peppers’ health benefits are as abundant as their different colors. These vibrant veggies give your body an extra dose of protection against free radicals, scurvy, and artery inflammation, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol build-up if not prevented. Bell peppers also contain healthy plant compounds, vitamins A and K, B vitamins, and minerals like copper and magnesium.

This recipe also makes use of flavorful spices like chili powder and cumin. Chili powder and other spicy food contain capsaicin, a compound well-known to help with weight loss and obesity, while promoting heart protection, satiety (making you feel full longer), and pain relief.

Cumin (not to be confused with curcumin), meanwhile, is known to help treat diarrhea, flatulence, and respiratory diseases, although more studies are now highlighting its extraordinary impacts. The spice was found to have antioxidant capabilities and may help relieve stress.

Cumin seeds, meanwhile, have been shown to be beneficial for diabetics and those who struggle with asthma. These can also lessen symptoms of allergic rhinitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Salud…..and Happy Valentine’s Day!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my Evolution Made Easier website’s To Your Health page and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

 

Coconut Flour: Try It, You’ll Like It!

 

Have you tried cooking/baking with coconut flour yet? If you haven’t, then I recommend giving it a try, especially if you are concentrating on avoiding grains and gluten. Coconut flour has a very mild flavor and, depending on what you use it in, you may not even notice the slight hint of coconut. And it’s more nutritious and higher in protein and fiber than many other types of flour. I’ve gotten to where I use coconut flour, also almond flour, fairly regularly. It doesn’t swap out cup for cup when it comes to replacing regular/wheat flour, so if you are new to using it, rather than trying to convert other recipes, it might be easier to “get your feet wet” with recipes that specifically call for it. And to help you out, there’s a free e-book of recipes using coconut flour you can download at the end of this post!

So, ready to give it a try? This article by Dr. Josh Axe does a great job of explaining the benefits and ins and outs of working with coconut flour. In fact, I think it should be called Everything You May Want Or Need To Know About Coconut Flour, But Didn’t Even Know To Ask. 🙂

 

 

Coconut-Flour-Title-Header

Coconut Flour Nutrition, Benefits, & How to Use It

Coconut flour is growing in popularity as more people discover the many health benefits of coconut flour nutrition, in addition to its many uses as a delicious, gluten-free, and healthy alternative to other flours.

What do you need to know about coconut flour nutrition? Coconut flour is high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats and is free from wheat and other grains. It is also low in sugar, digestible carbohydrates and calories, and has a low score on the glycemic index.

This makes coconut flour a favorite among paleo dieters, gluten free eaters, including those with Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, those with digestive problems like leaky gut syndrome, anyone with a nut allergy, those with diabetes, vegetarians, and just about everyone else in between.

Coconut flour is made from ground and dried coconut meat. Once the outer green husk of a coconut is removed, what remains inside is the rich, inner white lining which is the coconut meat.

Coconut flour is not actually “flour” in the way we normally think of it; it contains zero grains, zero nuts,  and is made completely of pure coconut. Flour can be made from many things including nuts, seeds, dried vegetables, and of course coconut meat.

Coconut meat is the white, firm part of the coconut that you would find if you cracked open the fresh coconut and scraped out the insides, but this needs to have its milk separated in order to produce the dry “flour”’. Once the meat is strained and separated from the coconut’s milk, it is baked at a low temperature to dry it out and create a powdery flour made entirely of coconut.


Coconut Flour Nutrition Benefits

There are numerous reasons to love all that coconut flour nutrition has to offer, especially the fact that it’s high in nutrients, low in calories, and versatile in many recipes. It’s also very uncommon for coconut flour to cause any digestive or autoimmune  responses like other grain flours can.

The health benefits of using coconut flour in recipes are far reaching and impressive:


Young fit woman

1. Aids in Metabolism

Some of the many health benefits of coconut flour nutrition include its high levels of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). These are used by the body easily for energy and help to support a healthy metabolism, balanced blood sugar levels, and more.


2. High in Fiber

Coconut meat itself supplies an impressive 61% dietary fiber! And because fiber essentially cannot be absorbed by the body, some of the calories and carbohydrates found in coconut flour aren’t even absorbed and used, but rather they move right through the digestive tract helping to take toxins and waste along with them.


3. Helps Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar Level

Coconut flour is a low glycemic food and does not spike blood sugar levels. In fact studies show that consuming products that contain coconut flour can help to lower the overall glycemic impact of the food and to support stable blood sugar levels. This means that coconut flour nutrition has health benefits for people with diabetes and those who are working towards reaching a healthy weight too.


Digestive system

4. Helps Digestive Health

Coconut flour also helps with healthy digestion, has a high nutrient density, and can aid in heart health, too. Studies have shown that coconut flour has the ability to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and serum triglycerides in people who have raised cholesterol levels. Coconut flour has this positive effect because of its high supply of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, plus its healthy MUFA fat content.


Coconut Flour Nutrition Facts 

 A ¼ cup serving (or about 28 g.) of coconut flour has roughly:

  • 120 calories
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 4 grams protein
  • 10 grams of fiber
  • 16 grams carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of sugar

A little bit of coconut flour goes a long way, and in many recipes, you can get away with using only 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, but still getting great results. Just 2 tablespoons of coconut flour delivers 5 grams of fiber, only 8 grams of carbs, and has just 60 calories. This makes it ideal for those following a lower calorie weight loss plan, watching carbohydrate intake, and looking to increase satiating fiber in their diet.


Coconut Flour vs. Almond Flour 

Both coconut flour and almond flour are loved for their versatility in recipes, high amounts of nutrients, filling fats and gluten free qualities. While both are great choices for baking with or using in numerous ways, coconut flour offers more fiber and less calories overall than almond flour does.

Coconut flour is also a great alternative for anyone who has nut allergies and cannot consume almonds. However at the same time,  nuts are nutrient-dense foods and almond flour is another great choice for its vitamin and mineral content, very low carb count, protein, fiber, and healthy fat.

coconut flour almond meal gluten free bread

If we do a side-by-side comparison of a ¼ cup serving of coconut flour nutrition versus almond flour nutrition, this is what we find:

Coconut flour: 120 calories, 4 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 16 grams carbs, and 10 grams fiber.

Almond flour: 160 calories, 14 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber.

All things considered, one of these flours is basically not “better” than the other. Almond flour is extremely *healthy, but has a bit more calories and fat, while having fewer carbs and grams of fiber. The higher calorie and fat content isn’t a bad thing, and this makes it a great choice for those on a low-carb, ketogenic, or higher fat diet. So you can see, it really comes down to your specific needs and preferences.

There is one more benefit to coconut flour nutrition that you may not have thought of. Because coconuts contain MUFA fatty acids, they are low in omega-6 fats. Although almonds are extremely healthy, nuts in general add omega-6 fats to your diet, and chances are you already consume plenty of these types of omega-6 fatty acids.

The ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in your diet is very important, but most people consume much more omega-6s in their diet than omega-3s due to eating processed foods, refined oils, and low amounts of wild caught omega-3 rich seafood. While coconut flour won’t add omega-3s to your diet, it can help reduce the amount of omega-6s since it can replace nut flours and refined grain flours.

Coconut flour and almond flour, sometimes also almond meal, both make great coatings for proteins, but have different textures and qualities when cooked with. Almond flour tends to be more crunchy, nutty, crumbly, and less soft. Almond flour also has a stronger taste and tastes like almonds, while coconut flour has a more mild taste.

Coconut flour absorbs more water than almond flour does, is denser, and creates a softer product. You can use both together to create many healthy gluten free recipes that are completely free of any grains and high in many nutrients.

*Personal Note: Actually I just read an article about some “cons” of using almond flour that I wasn’t aware of until now. More on that some other time; just know that it’s not as great in some respects as previously thought. 😦

Here’s how coconut flour compares to other gluten-free flours:

Coconut Flour vs. Gluten Free Flour

How to Cook with Coconut Flour 

Coconut flour can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. It is unsweetened and has a slight smell and taste of coconut, but this easily blends well with other ingredients in recipes and does not overpower other tastes. While it has a light, airy appearance and texture when dried, it becomes pretty dense when cooked with or baked.

You will want to make sure to de-clump the flour first before cooking with it, since it’s prone to forming clumps; do this by mixing it with a fork to take out any air bubbles or lumpy bits.

Coconut flour is high in fiber with 5 grams per every 2 Tbsp. serving, so it will absorb a lot of water while cooking with it. Compared to other flours, think of coconut flour as being much more of an absorbent “sponge”, therefore having the capability to dry out certain traditional recipes.

It’s best to use coconut flour in combination with other flours or self-rising ingredients like eggs when baking in order to get the best results. Coconut flour can also be used on its own to thicken soups and stews or to coat ingredients in place of breadcrumbs. No matter how you use it, make sure to mix it well before adding it to recipes and after you’ve combined it with other ingredients to ensure you get the best finished product.


Baking with COCONUT FLOUR

strawberry-shortcake-cupcakes cut open copyWhen baking with coconut flour, it works best to use an equal ratio of liquid to flour; this means you would use 2 tablespoons of water for every 2 tablespoons of coconut flour. The water will be easily absorbed during the baking process, so by not adding enough liquid, your product can come out too dry and crumbly.

You can also use coconut oil along with coconut flour to add even more benefits and retain moisture. One benefit of coconut flour’s absorbency is that it works well to give baked goods a dense quality, for example in a heart bread or something similar.

For the best results, it’s recommended to use coconut flour as a replacement for up to about 20% of the total flour in a recipe. This means if you’re baking with almond meal or sprouted spelt wheat flour for example, you can substitute out 20% of one of those flours and add coconut flour instead.

This will add extra fiber, MUFA fats, and nutrients to your finished product without altering the texture or taste much at all. Just remember that you will need to add extra liquid to compensate. In this case, if you substituted ¼ cup of coconut flour into the recipe, you would also add an extra ¼ cup water or other liquid.

While most experienced cooks do not recommend using coconut flour on its own in recipes, especially when baking, some people have positive results when combining 100% coconut flour and eggs together, then baking the two.

Since coconut flour is free from gluten, which usually binds ingredients together, the egg takes the place of the gluten and will hold your product in place without it crumbling. You can make a coconut flour-egg-muffin taste either sweet or savory depending on your preference. Try adding cinnamon, pure honey, and cocoa powder for a sweeter treat, or herbs and spices for a savory breakfast.

Coconut flour is a much healthier alternative to refined carbohydrate flours in many ways. By adding it to baked recipes which may be high in sugar and prone to spiking blood glucose levels, you can lower the glycemic index on the recipe. This means that the sugar in the recipe will impact blood glucose levels more slowly, not causing a spike and dip in energy levels, and prevent episodes of hypoglycemia.

There are countless ways to take advantage of the nutrient boost you’ll get from coconut flour nutrition. Try mixing it with spices like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper to make a basic coating mixture. Or to mimic the taste of traditional breadcrumbs used in Italian and French cooking, add oregano, basil, parsley, and other traditional Mediterranean herbs.

Coconut flour normally does not contain added sulfites or preservatives, if you buy a high-quality brand, so it’s recommended to store your coconut flour in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh for longer after opening. This is especially true if you decide to make and store your own homemade coconut flour. Once opened, it should last up to one year if kept in a cool, dry place.


coconut flour and flakes

How to Make Coconut Flour 

Just like you can make your own coconut milk or almond flour, you can make your own homemade coconut flour. In order to make it and save the amount of food you’re wasting, you can use the leftover fiber from making coconut milk. This way you get two homemade products at the same time!

Start by blending together coconut meat and water in a high speed blender, like a Blendtec or Vitamix. Then, use a straining bag or cheese cloth to catch all of the coconut meat, leaving behind only the coconut milk which you can save and use in many recipes later on.

When you have the coconut meat separated, you will spread it onto a baking sheet and bake it at a low temperature for several hours to dry it out. Keep in mind that you’re not exactly cooking the coconut meat to create flour, rather just slowly dehydrating it until it reaches a powdery, flour-like consistency.

Some people consider coconut flour to be raw for this reason, while others argue it isn’t; it really depends on how high of a temperature you choose to dehydrate it at. Most people recommend baking coconut flour at about 150 degrees, or the lowest setting the oven will stay at, for 4-6 hours to get the best results.

Where to Buy Coconut Flour

If you’d rather buy pre-made coconut flour than make your own, look for quality *brands and take a look at the nutrition panel. It’s best to purchase a brand with the only ingredient on the package as “coconut flour”. You want to avoid getting brands that are sweetened with any type of extra sugar, artificially flavored, have preservatives, or have any binding agents in them. The shorter the list of the ingredients (ideally only one), the better; this means you get the most benefits from coconut flour nutrition without unwanted side effects.

If you have Celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or are just avoiding gluten containing grains, make sure to check that the brand of coconut flour you purchase is labeled gluten free and produced in a completely gluten free facility. This will ensure that it’s been batch tested using the R5 ELISA Gluten Assay and will contain no traces of gluten at all, which is sometimes not the case with flours that are made in wheat containing facilities.

*Personal Note: You can get coconut flour at a discount at two of my favorite on-line places to shop, Vitacost.com and iHerb.com. And remember, a little goes a long way, so even though it’s more expensive than wheat flour, it all evens out….plus coconut flour is so good for you!


For a free e-book from Dr. Axe with 27 recipes using coconut flour, just click here. The Apple Coconut Crisp looks and sounds especially appealing. 🙂

And here’s a comparison of coconut flour to wheat flour, plus a baking tip and tasty-sounding muffin recipe that I found on healthy-holistic-living.com…..

Coconut Flour vs. All Purpose Flour

One half cup or 56 grams of coconut flour contains:

  • 6.22g fat
  • 34.22g carbs
  • 24.9g fiber
  • 9.33 net carbs
  • 12.44g protein
  • 140 calories
One half cup or 62.5 grams of all purpose flour contains:

  • 0 fat
  • 46g carbs
  • 1.5 fiber
  • 44.50 net carbs
  • 6.00g protein
  • 220 calories

Coconut flour is dry and dense; it needs to be beaten thoroughly when worked with.

The key to getting a good texture from your baked coconut flour goods is to let the mixture sit for at least five minutes to ensure that the coconut flour is completely absorbed – then stir again.

coconut_flour_muffins_recipe

The Ultimate Coconut Flour Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple (Red Delicious, Gala, or Fuji)
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries, dried cranberries, raisins, or dried blueberries – optional
  • ½ cup chopped pecans – optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Grease a 6-count muffin pan with coconut oil
  3. Warm ¼ cup of coconut oil until softened and almost liquid
  4. In a large bowl: mash banana, grate apple unpeeled, add eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, coconut oil, salt, and mix well
  5. Mix in coconut flour, baking powder, and stir well
  6. Let sit for 5 minutes ( this is key, as the coconut flour needs to sit to absorb fully into the liquid mixture).
  7. Stir in pecans and cherries
  8. Spoon into muffin tins
  9. Bake 19-22 minutes until edges start to brown. Stick toothpick in center of one muffin, if it comes out clean its done
  10. Let cool for 1 minute in tin, then run a knife around the edges, remove muffins and cool on a wire rack. Serve while warm. Muffins refrigerate well and last for 7 days.

Enjoy these easy to make delicious coconut flour muffins and the best part; you will be shedding fat at the same time. It’s a win win!

Article originally posted on DailySuperFoodLove.com

Source: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/ultimate-coconut-flour-muffins-your-new-fat-shedding-secret.html

Have you tried baking with coconut flour? Got a tip or favorite recipe to share?  

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my new website Evolution Made Easier and blog of the same name for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Iodine: Essential Mineral For Detoxification, Radiation Protection, And More

How much do you really know about iodine? A few years ago I realized I didn’t know much beyond the information I grew up with as a child…. that it was something that was added to “fortify” table salt and you could also use it on cuts and scraps. But after the disaster at Fukushima a few years ago, iodine was suddenly a hot commodity and I started doing some research. And, boy, was I impressed with how important this essential mineral is for not only protecting the thyroid from radiation, but also providing immune support, encouraging healthy hormone levels, detoxing fluoride, chlorine and bromine, and much more…..

 

iodine_individual_element_of_the_periodic_table_dartboard ...

 

I always assumed I was getting enough iodine from using Himalayan crystal salt, a natural source of iodine, and taking Emerald Sea, a supplement that contains iodine-rich seaweed. But when the tragic situation with Fukushima brought radiation concerns to the forefront, I wanted to be sure I was getting enough iodine because it is well-known for protecting the thyroid from radiation.

So I did some testing and was surprised to find I was iodine deficient. That’s not so unusual either, because apparently a large part (75% or more) of the population is deficient, too. And even if radiation isn’t a concern, when your body is low in iodine your mucosal barrier (in your nose, mouth, lungs and intestines) suffers. This barrier, or protective layer, is what keeps hostile outside germs away from your sterile insides, and when it’s not functioning properly your body is at risk for potentially serious immune-system-mediated conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Epstein-Barr infection, and systemic candidiasis.

So I started searching for and comparing natural iodine supplements and what tested best, at least for me, was Detoxadine from Global Healing Center. I’ve been using it now for a couple of years and I always get a “yes” when I self-test to see if my body wants/needs it. But I never really understood how important iodine is and why the product happened to be called Detoxadine® until I recently watched a fascinating video put together by Dr. Frank Group, creator of the product and the man behind GHC.

Holy cow! I never knew iodine played such a major role in the detoxification process (thus the name of the product!) and that it increases the excretion of lead and mercury and plays a part in so many other body processes. AND it has so many benefits…..it’s helpful with insulin regulation and diabetes, good for breast and ovary health, promotes healthy hormone levels, improves energy and focus, and has anti-microbial and anti-septic properties. In fact, years ago iodine was the main antibiotic used before other options became available. You can also use it externally on the skin for dealing with cuts and burns, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its uses and benefits!

This video is an hour long, but well worth the time, at least in my opinion. You’ll definitely have a new understanding and appreciation for iodine and the major role it plays in your health if you do. I had only planned on watching a few minutes of it and then got pulled in by all the useful information and insights it was providing.

 

Want more on iodine?

Here’s information from NIH.org that you may find helpful regarding recommended dietary allowances and food sources of iodine. I think NIH is often conservative with their RDAs, but it gives you some ballpark figures to use. Everyone is different, so I highly recommend relying on a healthcare professional and/or always testing the supplement you plan to take to see if it’s right for you, and then also testing for dosage. Iodine supplementation is not something to fool around with.

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iodine 
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 110 mcg* 110 mcg*
7–12 months 130 mcg* 130 mcg*
1–3 years 90 mcg 90 mcg
4–8 years 90 mcg 90 mcg
9–13 years 120 mcg 120 mcg
14–18 years 150 mcg 150 mcg 220 mcg 290 mcg
19+ years 150 mcg 150 mcg 220 mcg 290 mcg

* Adequate Intake (AI)

The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) recommend a slightly higher iodine intake for pregnant women of 250 mcg per day.

Sources of Iodine

Seaweed (such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame) is one of the best food sources of iodine, but it is highly variable in its content (see Table 2). Other good sources include seafood, dairy products (partly due to the use of iodine feed supplements and iodophor sanitizing agents in the dairy industry), grain products, and eggs. Dairy products, especially milk, and grain products are the major contributors of iodine to the American diet. Iodine is also present in human breast milk and infant formulas.

Fruits and vegetables contain iodine, but the amount varies depending on the iodine content of the soil, fertilizer use and irrigation practices. Iodine concentrations in plant foods can range from as little as 10 mcg/kg to 1 mg/kg dry weight. This variability, in turn, affects the iodine content of meat and animal products because it affects the iodine content of foods that the animals consume. The iodine content of different seaweed species also varies greatly. For these reasons, the values in Table 2 are approximate.

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Iodine 
Food Approximate
Micrograms (mcg)
per serving
Percent *DV
Seaweed, whole or sheet, 1 g 16 to 2,984 11% to 1,989%
Cod, baked, 3 ounces 99 66%
Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup 75 50%
**Iodized salt, 1.5 g (approx. 1/4 teaspoon) 71 47%
Milk, reduced fat, 1 cup 56 37%
Fish sticks, 3 ounces 54 36%
Bread, white, enriched, 2 slices 45 30%
Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, canned, 1/2 cup 42 28%
Shrimp, 3 ounces 35 23%
Ice cream, chocolate, 1/2 cup 30 20%
Macaroni, enriched, boiled, 1 cup 27 18%
Egg, 1 large 24 16%
Tuna, canned in oil, drained, 3 ounces 17 11%
Corn, cream style, canned, 1/2 cup 14 9%
Prunes, dried, 5 prunes 13 9%
Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce 12 8%
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 11 7%
Lima beans, mature, boiled, 1/2 cup 8 5%
Apple juice, 1 cup 7 5%
Green peas, frozen, boiled, 1/2 cup 3 2%
Banana, 1 medium 3 2%

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for iodine is 150 mcg for adults and children aged 4 and older. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list iodine content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

**I would stay away from commercially iodized/fortified table salt (and any other food that does not come by iodine naturally) and use Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic sea salt, which contain natural iodine.

Source: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/

 

FYI, you can get iodine supplements at any number of places on-line, but I would certainly at least check out Detoxadine® at GHC, especially since they’re having a great sale on it through tomorrow (12/3/14). It’s actually what prompted me to finally get around to finishing and posting this information on iodine, because I wanted you to be able to take advantage of the sale. A bottle, which is super concentrated and lasts more than several months, is normally $29.95, but until 12/3 is just $19.95, plus shipping is free. Use code ‘Cyber2014’. I just ordered 2 bottles myself. Here’s a little about the product:

Unlike other iodine supplements which source iodine from the ocean, Detoxadine® is created using 300 million year old salt deposits located 7,000 feet below the earth’s surface. The result is an extremely pure and concentrated nascent iodine that is free of additives and toxins and also screened for radiation.

Detoxadine® is nascent iodine in a vegetable glycerin base. Unlike alcohol based formulas, it has an extremely gentle taste and is appropriate for adults and children alike.

Nascent iodine is also the most easily absorbed and utilized form of iodine available.

Why is Detoxadine® better than potassium iodide?

The nascent iodine in Detoxadine® is pure and much easier for your body to absorb and use. In nature, iodine is attached to other elements as a compound, it doesn’t exist pure. In these forms, absorption may only be 20%, making it biologically inefficient. Detoxadine® is different because it provides a bioavailable, non-toxic source of elemental nascent iodine that the body can efficiently use. Detoxadine® rapidly enters the bloodstream and disperses throughout the body.

The GHC website also has lots of testimonials and a 180 day money back guarantee. Also check out the Aqua-Spirit, O2 Zap (no home should be without it!), Oxy-powder and other products while you’re there.

Read Part II on Iodine, which focuses on some of the things that interfere with iodine absorption, symptoms of deficiency, medication interactions, resources for using iodine against radiation, and more. And see this related Self-help Health post about how certain anti-nutrients can block iodine absorption:

https://selfhelphealth.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/1913/

Salud!

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine