Whole Grains, Nuts and Legumes
While whole grains, nuts and legumes offer a powerhouse of nutrients, especially magnesium, some iron, B vitamins and vitamin E, they are also high in anti-nutrients like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. They are seeds after all, and therefore need to inhibit their enzymatic activity until the time is right for sprouting, i.e. in the presence of water. In addition, phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors serve the dual purpose of protection the seed from being eaten by animals.
Phytic acid or phytate, is a phosphorus compound that will chelate (i.e. bind) minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium, and prevent their absorption in the gut. This will greatly reduce your mineral absorption and can lead to deficiencies. And enzyme or protease inhibitors in nuts and legumes prevent protein digestion and can hurt the pancreas when consumed in large amounts.
Soaking, sprouting or fermenting your grains, nuts and legumes will break down mineral absorption-blocking phytates and inactivate enzyme inhibitors. Our ancestors soaked, fermented or sprouted their whole grains, nuts and legumes before making them into porridges, breads, falafel, bean casseroles and other dishes. In India, rice and lentils were fermented for two weeks before being served as idli and dosas. In Mexico, corn was fermented for up to two weeks using limewater to break down a protein that will bind vitamin B3, which will cause pellagra when consumed in large quantities. Traditional Russian sour dough bread recipes called for fermenting wheat for a week before baking it into bread.
In today’s fast food world we have forgotten these traditions and are instead consuming grains, nuts and legumes without these precautions. Even the well-meaning advice of many nutritionists to consume plenty of whole grains, raw nuts and cooked legumes can result in mineral deficiencies and digestive problems if not prepared properly. Here is how to prepare these foods for easy digestion and maximum mineral content:
Soak whole grains in water which 2-3 tablespoons of something acidic (like lemon juice, whey or vinegar). Cover and leave in a warm place for 7-24 hours. Most grains require soaking for only 7 hours (rice, oats, millet, wheat) though they can be soaked longer, but quinoa is very high in phytates and requires 24 hours. Transfer to a pot, including the soaking water. Add more water in case of oats. For other grains like rice, bring to a boil until the water is at the level of the grain, skim, reduce heat, stir in salt and butter/ghee/coconut oil and cook over lowest possible heat for about 45 minutes (15-20 mins for oats).
Breads: Use only whole grain sourdough bread that is leavened for 7 hours or more and avoid yeast.
Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts contain not only phytates but also enzyme inhibitors. Soak 4 cups whole, raw nuts (untreated so they can still sprout) for at least 7 hours or overnight in water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Then dry in an oven or dehydrator at 150 degrees F until dry. For 12-24 hours. Your nuts will still be raw.
Before drying you can flavor your nuts with tamari, salt or other flavors of choice.
Cover legumes with warm water. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of whey or lemon juice and leave in a warm place (lentils for 7 hours, beans and chick peas for 12-24, change water after 12 hours). Drain, rinse, place in a large pot and add water or broth/stock to cover. Bring to a boil and skim off foam. Reduce heat and simmer covered at low temperature until done (1-4 hours depending on the legume).
Note: Grains can be cooked in their soaking water but not legumes.
For more information and recipes see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
I know it can be difficult coming up with pudding recipes that taste good but can either have a little bit of nutrition in them or avoid common allergens.
Below are two such recipes:
1. A chocolate chia seed pudding
2. An eggless tapioca pudding
I hope you enjoy them!
1. CHOCOLATE CHIA SEED PUDDING RECIPE
3 cups of milk (I use almond but you can easily substitute in coconut, hemp, soy, etc.)
2/3 cup of chia seeds
4 tbs of cocoa powder (you can adjust based upon how much chocolate flavor you like)
2 tbs of sugar crystals (this can be varied based upon how sweet you like it)
Mix together (they don't like to mix well initially).
You can either cover it and let it sit in the fridge overnight (mixing it a few times when going into the fridge to grab something else) or you can warm it on the stove for about 10-15 minutes (Keep it medium to medium low heat so get the seeds to become gelatinous). Cool for 2 hours (this will allow time for it to thicken up some more) and enjoy!
Makes about 3 1/2 cups all together containing a total of:
51 g of sugar, 45 g fiber, 20 g protein, 7.5 g fat (4.5 g MUFA, 1.5 g PUFA)
I divided this into 4 servings, with each serving having a total of: 12.75 g of sugar, 11.25 g of fiber, 5 g of protein, 1.88 g fat
2. EGGLESS TAPIOCA PUDDING
1/3 cup of Bob's Red Mill Small Tapioca Pearls. Soak the tapioca pearls in 3/4 cup of water for 1/2 hour before doing the rest of the recipe.
2 cups of milk (I use almond but you can easily substitute in coconut, hemp, soy, etc.)
1/4 cup sugar crystals
Combine 2 tbs corn starch mixed separately into 2 tbs of water and keep off to the side
Combine the water-soaked tapioca, 2 cups milk, and 1/4 cup of sugar crystals and bring to a boil while stirring constantly (or at least more consistently once it gets closer to boiling).
Once boiling, add the cornstarch/water mixture while mixing constantly.
Cook for 1-2 minutes longer while stirring constantly.
Shut off heat.
Add 1 tsp of vanilla
You can add spices for flavoring too (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc)
Makes about 3 cups all together containing a total of:
62 g sugar, 68 g of other carbs, 2 g protein, 5 g fats (3 g MUFA, 1 g PUFA)
I divided this into 3 servings, with each serving having a total of: 20.7 g of sugar, 22.7 g of other carbs, 0.7 g of protein, 1.7 g fat
I also like mixing the two together!
I am very excited to say that we are in the process of creating a Healthy Changes Lifestyle Program at our Revive Wellness Center in New Haven, CT!
The program will begin by evaluating your toxic burden and areas of mental resistance to change using questionnaires, biomarkers, and a Bio-Impedance Analysis (BIA) test. Our weekly program will discuss clean dietary living solutions, detoxification protocols, supplement support if needed, basic exercises, easy recipes, and stress reduction techniques in a supportive group setting with Naturopathic Physicians, a Nutritionist, and a clinical Psychologist.
We will be supporting you throughout the entire process to help ease the stress of change because we understand it takes 4-6 weeks to create new healthy habits!
For more information, please leave comments or questions here!
Eating and Living Holistically:
The purpose of a clean, green and lean lifestyle is to remove inflammation, toxicity, and unnecessary burdens so you can love your life and your health! Negative contributing factors like a high stress job, unhealthy foods, negative emotional patterns, lack or exercise or sleep, and environmental pollution greatly reduce health and can lead to many conditions including Obesity, Infertility, Autoimmune Conditions, Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, Pain Conditions and Diabetes.
As a Naturopathic Physician, our mission is to help you overcome these hurdles by discovering the underlying mechanisms of disease, helping you create healthier lifestyle habits, supporting nutritional deficiencies, and working with you to restore balance to your entire spirit-mind-emotion-physical being. The first part of better living and eating is taking a good look at the environment around you and what you are putting into your body.
What Can Pesticides Do For Your Health?
Most pesticides are fat soluble toxins that enter organs with higher fat content and disrupt hormone regulation by mimicking estrogens, leading to changes in metabolism, reproductive function, neurological function, and can even cause chromosomal aberrations. Pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been linked to higher total cholesterol, triglycerides, and increased cardiovascular disease (1).
Obesity has also been connected to ingestion of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), showing increased abdominal girth and fat mass (2). OCPs are endocrine disruptors mimic sex hormones and have been linked with increased risk of breast and prostate cancers (3).
Pesticides have also been connected to children with low birth weight and increased body fat in school age children (4). Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like PCBs and OCPs have even been linked to Type 2 Diabetes as well. Pesticide exposures can affect multiple organ systems, leading to neurotoxicity, birth defects, delayed fertility, spontaneous abortions, altered growth, skin conditions, and increased chromosomal damage (6).
Green Living Solutions
Ingesting clean organically grown produce (5+ above ground vegetables and 2 fruits) greatly helps lessen toxic burden of pesticide ingestion, but also provides other health benefits. For example, intake of legumes, whole grains, fruits, and cruciferous vegetables (ie foods high in fiber) significantly reduced the risk of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in a large US NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study containing > 490,000 participants (7).
Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Atherosclerosis
Obesity has been linked with having inappropriate bacteria, like theMethanobacteriales, which are petroleum degrading bacteria that digest pesticides and prescription drugs (2). There is good evidence that artificial sweeteners can alter the gut microbiome, leading to glucose intolerance and weight gain in humans (10). Obesity in children has been observed in those with higher levels of Staphylococcus aureus and lower levels of Bifidobacteriaduring infancy (11).
Type 2 Diabetes has also been linked to inflammatory bacterial constituents like lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from gram negative bacteria because LPS can impair glucose metabolism (11). Insulin resistance has even been reduced when butyrate producing bacteria were transplanted from lean healthy donors into obese patients (11). Current studies are even looking at Type 1 Diabetes and links to altered gut microbiota that may be responsible for the autoimmune attack on pancreatic beta islet cells.
There are so many different studies linking microbial pathogens to high cholesterol and atherosclerosis as well. For instance, Chryseomonas, Veillonella, and Streptococcus found in the gut and oral cavity were also found in atherosclerotic plaques (11). While there are many different microbe species, it’s important to note that health status was improved in humans carrying bacteria that produced butyrates, beta-carotene, and did not break choline or carnitine into toxic metabolites (11).
Good Microbes Do Good Things
Lactobacillus spp. can protect cells from E. coli verocytotoxins, inhibit growth ofS. aureus bacteria and reduce their ability to produce enterotoxins (8). Many good bacteria, like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria spp. and others, create SCFAs to feed our intestinal cells, reduce inflammation and cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce antibiotic induced diseases, and can reduce numerous metabolic, gut, and liver-related illnesses (12). Gut bacteria also create GABA, vitamin K, vitamin B12, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), breakdown good polyphenols for intestinal absorption, metabolize toxins like p-cresol, offer antimicrobial protection, and trigger intestinal expression of secretory IgA (13).
Functional Medicine focuses on identifying the underlying factors found in disease, or disharmony, by holistically integrating conventional and alternative approaches to health. The practice of Functional Medicine (FM) is very comprehensive, looking in depth at how your biochemical individuality reacts with the environment, diet and lifestyle to shape your level of health. For instance, many people have similar complaints such as arthritic joint pains or IBS, but the treatment approaches may be very different based upon how your system functions at the epigenetic, genetic, biochemical, and physiological levels. Some people simply require more vitamin D than others because their receptors do not bind the vitamin D well, just like one person may be fine on 6 hours of sleep but another may need 8 hours of sleep to function optimally.
The goals of FM are to naturally restore proper physiology and biochemistry to optimize health. Functional Medicine examines the complex web of relationships between symptoms, organ systems (including your mind, body, and emotions), biochemical individuality and the environment to better understand how you function as a whole. You are unique and each part of a treatment plan should be geared to how best to help you achieve wellbeing. Functional Medicine also realizes your body has an inherent healing capacity if it is given what it needs to function appropriately. Health is more than just the absence of disease; it is a state of high vitality and adaptability. Symptoms occur when that adaptability is limited.
Many symptoms and disease processes can occur from lack of certain nutrients. Hence, determining the best diet, supplementation, and other treatment modalities based upon Functional Medicine will give you the best picture of how to regain your health. Fatigue in one person may be from iron deficiency while another may suffer the same symptoms from vitamin B12 deficiency. Furthermore, the iron deficiency could actually be coming from vitamin C or copper deficiency. FM can easily examine these and other nutrients to determine why you may be so tired all of the time. The best part of FM is that it can easily be used to help anyone who suffers from any number of complaints (from skin to internal organs and even emotional health issues) because it is focused on how your body is reacting to the environment, instead of lumping you into a group and hoping the treatment fits you.
You don’t have to be “sick” to benefit from Functional Medicine. Many patients come to get into a better state of health. The FM process looks at amino acid, organic acid, neurotransmitter, and nutritional testing to determine if you require additional nutritional support to better balance your body functions. Whether you are thinking about paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, ketogenic, detox, alkaline, genotype diets or any others, you first want to consider looking at it from a FM perspective to determine which nutrients you can properly absorb and utilize. One person may function fine with high protein and vegetables while others may require some carbohydrates to be truly healthy. FM helps you to better understand your body, what works right for you, and helps you be more proactive to achieve better health and vitality.
Many people have food allergies and food sensitivities to gluten, eggs, and dairy that can lead to many nasty symptoms like GI upset, brain fog, hyper-excitability, and rashes. If you have some good recipes or sites to visit for gluten-, egg-, and dairy-free recipes, please share them below!
Here is one of mine below:
Grilled Salmon, Quinoa, and Zucchini
Salmon (1-2 lb)
Spices to flavor (you can pick your favorites) Onion powder or onion flakes, Parsley, Oregano, Basil, Pepper, Salt
Heat Grill to 300-350’F
Carefully rinse salmon and pat dry. Cut into smaller pieces if needed to fit on your grill or help it to cook faster. Place salmon into tinfoil that is large enough to completely wrap around the piece of salmon. Place salmon in tinfoil and drizzle olive oil onto it. Add spices that you enjoy. Wrap up completely in tinfoil. Set aside to marinade for 10-20 minutes (while you get the quinoa on and cut up the zucchini- see below). Cook till pink in color and no longer clear in the center (15-20 minutes depending upon size of piece and how hot the grill is).
Quinoa – 2 cups
Organic broth – 4 cups (can use any flavor you prefer)
In a pot, bring broth to a boil and add quinoa (just like rice), cook till broth is absorbed and the quinoa pops out of its shell. Takes about 30 -40 minutes total.
Zucchini 3-4 small ones
Salt, Pepper, Spices
Rinse and cut the zucchini into thin, long, flat strips. Coat in olive oil and any spices you desire. Cook on upper rack of grill while salmon is cooking on lower rack (or cook more towards edges of grill where there is less heat). Cook till pieces become flexible indicating they are cooked through (can be 10-20 minutes depending upon how thin you cut them and how well done you like them).
It’s that time of year again. All the kids are stuck indoors, spreading germs onto door knobs and toys, then wiping their face and getting infections in their eyes, nose or mouth. So, how do you avoid this and what can you do if you or your child has pink eye?
1. Make sure it’s pink eye (conjunctivitis) and not a foreign object that is causing the redness and swelling of the eyelids, mucus discharge, reddening of the conjunctiva and sclera, and itchiness. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a bacteria, virus or allergic reaction so it’s important to look at the signs to tell them apart. An allergic reaction to dust, wind and smoke can lead to redness, minor swelling of the eyelids, clear discharge and severe itching and tearing. A viral pink eye is similar to the allergic reaction with clear discharge, and minimal or no eyelid swelling but often has NO itching and will have other signs of a cold like swollen lymph nodes, runny nose, or cough. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually has moderate swelling of the eyelid with nasty yellow or greenish discharge from the eye, limited itching, and possibly a fever or runny nose. Take the child to a physician for proper diagnosis and to rule out a much more serious infection know as iritis, inflammation of the iris that can lead to eye damage.
2. If you have pink eye, avoid touching the eye as much as possible and wash your hands often after touching any part of your face to avoid spreading the germs to other parts of the body. Change out your pillowcases daily and anything else that comes in contact with your face. Make sure to use separate hand towels as well to avoid spreading germs to the rest of the family. Also, shower daily and keep hair, glasses and fingers away from the eyes as much as possible to reduce the contaminants entering the eye area.
3. Natural remedies that can be used topically to kill the germs causing pink eye and help heal the inflamed tissue include colloidal silver drops (kills most microorganisms), use of certain boiled and steeped herbal teas (cooled calendula tea to sooth the eyes, cooled euphrasia or goldenseal teas can treat the infection), or food based items (like warmed and cooled 1/2 organic milk to sooth the eye and 1/2 honey to kill the germs). Goldenseal also works synergistically with antibiotics to kill bacteria and further inhibit bacterial replication, making it a great choice in combination with antibiotics for bacterial conjunctivitis. It is important to treat both eyes topically with the drops several times a day because the infection often spreads from one eye to the other and treatment of both eyes will stop this from occurring. Additionally, you can boil water, and steep two black tea bags in one cup, then place the warm tea bags onto the eyes for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a day. The tannins in the tea bags help to reduce the swelling of the eyelids aiding recovery time.
4. To help your internal immune system, it is important to avoid sugars, fried foods, alcohol and caffeine while increasing your intake of water, foods rich in vitamin A (like carrots, spinach, peas, squash, sprouts, tomatoes, grapefruit, and watermelon, eggs, tuna) and B vitamins (soy, tuna, chicken, and eggs contain most or all of the B vitamins). You can take the vitamins in a supplement as well to further enhance the function of your immune and detoxification systems.
5. Homeopathics work wonders in reducing the symptoms of pink eye. Itchiness and redness from allergies can often be treated with Euphrasia, while those with burning watering eyes that do better with warmth can benefit from Arsenicum. Thick discharge that isn’t particularly itchy and feels better with cold applicatons could benefit from Pulsatilla. There are many more possibilities so contact your ND for more information.
6. A clinical case example:
A 12 year old girl presents with swelling of her upper eyelid, creamy yellowish discharge, and redness of her conjunctiva and sclera of her left eye that started that morning with a runny nose and mild fever. There was itching and burning and it felt better with warmth applied to the eye. The child and parents were told to abide by the proper dietary and good hygiene factors listed above. The child was given Arsenicum homeopathic pellets (3 pellets twice day), an herbal eye rinse (once that evening), and EmergenC (one daily in water to supplement with vitamins). The discharge, swelling, and itching were greatly reduced by that evening but the parents forgot to use the herbal rinse in both eyes. The infection was virtually gone from the left eye the following day but had spread into the right eye. The herbal wash was increased to twice a day in BOTH eyes. On the third day, the infection was completely gone from the left eye but still has some minor swelling and redness of the right eye. The 12 yo girl was kept on the same regimen with the addition of the use of the black tea bags to be used twice daily to reduce the swelling and colloidal silver drops to be used three times daily to ensure eradication of the bacterium. The redness and swelling were completely gone from both eyes by the evening of the third day and the child returned to school on the fourth day symptom free but was told to continue the herbal wash and colloidal silver drops for 3 more days to ensure the infection was completely resolved.