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Healthier Eating Truth for an Extended Life

Last week I featured a dear friend who celebrated her 100th birthday. In that blog I spoke of her positive mental attitude as being essential to a longer, happier life. We discussed many things that day and another was how consuming healthier foods gave her that extension on a life well-lived.

Granted Judy grew up during an age without all the preservatives and chemicals found on our store shelves today. She ate more unprocessed whole foods. Sometimes I wish we could go back to a simpler time because many of today’s selection are literally killing us!

I confess it drives me crazy to hear “Oh, I don’t eat carbs!” Oh really??? Well that means you don’t consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds or herbs which is against God’s Word in Genesis 1:29.

“God also told them, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows throughout the earth, along with every tree that grows seed-bearing fruit. They will produce your food. ”

What they probably mean is that they’re staying away from Simple Carbs and triglycerides like donuts, Twinkies and Pop Tarts. Good. But giving up ALL carbs is unbalanced and God wants us to live a balanced life.

Complex Carbohydrates on the other hand, keep your body running like a well-oiled machine. These are loaded with nutrients, phytochemicals, amino acids and enzymes. Surprised to see amino acids on my list? You’re not alone. Most believe that amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are only found in meat. Actually all nine amino acids which the body cannot make on its own are found in plant proteins.

Complex carbs metabolize in only 1-3 hours so people get hungrier sooner. But that’s not bad. It simply means the food is energizing you, so eat mini-meals, balanced with a little protein which lasts from 2-4 hours. Also your brain functions primarily on the glucose of those carbs so if you want to kill off your brain, go right ahead and avoid all carbs. I won’t.

The two kinds of beneficial fiber found in CC’s accomplish much. Soluble fiber turns into a gel and is beneficial for the blood stream’s removal of toxins and bad cholesterol. Applesauce, oatmeal, pears are examples but a combination of both types are found in all fruits, vegetables. The second, Insoluble fiber, is like Rotor Rooter, pushing along toxins to clean out your digestive system so one’s body can absorb nutrients. Insoluble fiber passes along without breaking up. You can find it in corn, beets, apple skins, etc. These protect against colon cancer and liver disease.

Increase any type of berry. They’ll fight inflammation by reducing oxidation and inflammatory stressors. As a side benefit they will increase brain function!

Another complex carb usually avoided by dieters are nuts. When I began my nutritional career in the 1990s this was a food nutritional “experts” told people to avoid. When I thought about it, I questioned why. (Eggs and potatoes were also considered “no-no’s.” Would our God declare that all He created was “Good” and then wring His Hands and say, “Whoops!” I didn’t think so.

After careful study I discovered how nuts contained a plentitude of B-complex vitamins, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium, omega 3’s and on and on. It also increases good cholesterol and contains fiber. Doesn’t sound like a mistake to me!

Herbs and spices are complex carbs too. Spices are great for the circulation and our mental function. Spices are fibrous foods which lesson inflammation and regulates insulin production.

Don’t fall for fallacies; God wants to provide a healthier environment and man messes it up!

“With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.” (Proverbs 11:9)

Keeping Our Bones Stronger Throughout Life

When I developed osteoporosis, I tried to argue that the test was inaccurate. I eat too well! I protested. I exercise daily, walk, lift weights, . . . so the test must be wrong. After all, as a nutritionist, I know what to eat and practice what I preach! But as the verse goes, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

I had inherited my mother’s bone structure. I was arguing with God and one shouldn’t argue with our Maker. I should be grateful for how He created me.

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)

God’s smarter than me.

Did you know that there is a simple way to determine your bone size? Wrap you thumb and your middle finger around your wrist. If you can overlap your fingers, you are small-boned. If your fingers just meet, you are medium and if your fingers don’t touch, you are large-boned. The smaller the bones, the more susceptible to osteoporosis. (Recently some dispute this method but it works for me.)

As in everything with God’s Handiwork, balance is the key to healthier living.

Calcium is essential for regulating the passage of nutrients in and out of cells and need to be taken with food. Vitamin D should be consumed alongside calcium, magnesium and boron (grapes, apples, nuts) for maximum effect.

Anyone over 18 should consume approximately 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium, spaced throughout the day. Too much calcium could manifest in kidney stones. Too little and you’ll not only develop osteoporosis but insomnia, nervousness, an irregular heartbeat, hypertension, aching joints, irritability, leg cramping and brittle nails.

Calcium assists with insomnia and is a natural tranquilizer. It’s one reason why stressed-out people run to creamy foods such as macaroni and cheese or ice cream when under pressure. Their body is crying out for calmness amidst life’s storms. Our protective hypothalamus in our brain is informing us this nutrient will help. (Fresh air  calms us too.)

What Foods Contain Calcium?

  1. Did you know skim milk contains more calcium than regular milk? (316 mg. versus 290)
  2. Consume vegetables such as: Arugula, kale, spinach, broccoli, Bok Choy, acorn squash, dandelion, collard, mustard or turnip greens.
  3. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of beneficial calcium. So are whole grains, bread and cereals, so watch out Paleo Diet activists. You are playing Russian Roulette. For God knows our frame and how our bodies work. (Psalm 103: 14)
  4. Almonds, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds can be eaten in moderation (2 tablespoons daily.) Excellent on rich garden salads!
  5. Consume seafood: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovy, cod fish, oysters and crab.
  6. Calcium rich fruits are figs, kiwi, and fortified orange juice.
  7. Cheeses: Mozzarella, parmesan, Swiss, Laughing Cow. (The lighter the cheese the less cholesterol.)
  8. I usually recommend alfalfa tablets which can be found very cheaply. The roots of the alfalfa plant grow so deeply that they naturally contain many nutrients, including calcium.

It’s also important to consume foods high in the amino acid lysine along with calcium for maximum absorption. This is found in eggs, cheese, potatoes, red meat and soy. Amazingly, some of the foods forbidden on certain “diets.” Perhaps a mistake has been made? Is God or man correct? I’ll choose God every time, won’t you?

Bottom line: Calcium helps us lose weight, improves our mood and  keeps us healthy and younger looking! God knew it all the time! That’s good enough for me.

Keeping our Brain Young Thru These Food Choices

God gave us a brain for a purpose and we should always aspire to honor God in the way it is used!

 “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  (Job 38: 3)

I love lists and to this day create lists as I head out to the grocery or department store.  Internet lists are also enticing to me. I especially get hooked by those intriguing articles that bait: “The Best Cities for Dog Lovers,” “100 Best Movies in History!” or some such title.

th[7]Anyway, if you enjoy fun facts as much as I do, here is my personal list on “Food Facts to Keep Brain Cells.”

Did you know . . . ?

Prunes, raisins, garlic, blueberries and blackberries contain so far, the highest rated ORAC’s (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) which determine the strongest antioxidant values of any fruit and vegetable tested.

Commercial grape juice and tomato juice surprising contain more antioxidants than the same fresh produce in the produce aisle?

Spinach, blueberries and strawberries improve short term memory! Any antioxidant will protect brain cells but these three actually restore brain receptors.  Strawberries with walnuts on a spinach salad with a little olive oil is really brain food!

Blueberries will help restore balance and coordination. (Which is important since we tend to lose those as we age.)

Green tea versus black tea: Green is higher in one antioxidant (50 cent word alert: epigallocatechin gallate)  but black tea is higher in all-around antioxidant potency. Those pre-packaged mixes contain little if any antioxidants, so brew your own.

Pregnant mothers especially, should be consuming eggs for the brain health of their babies. (As we all should.)  Eggs are one of the few foods that contain the amino acid, choline. And many dieters stay away from eggs mistakenly believing they are fattening.

The brain feeds primarily on glucose derived from complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain more ORAC’s overall than vegetables, although kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts rank very high. Although you will derive quick energy from a Snickers bar, you are consuming empty calories! Not recommended.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, milled flaxseed and fish oils keeps your brain cells flexible and fluid.

Eat Fish! Fish oil is amazing! It restores concentration through the brain/blood barrier, speeds up brain waves, calms mental stress and relieves depression. So eat fish, especially the fatty fishth[5] like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel.  Brain cells are lined with Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Therefore these good fats keep cells fluid, elastic  and fights inflammation. If you absolutely hate fish, then at least take a fish oil supplement such as cod liver oil.

Dark Chocolate boosts antioxidant protective polyphenols properties higher than red wine.

Now Change These Habits:

Quit Smoking! Smoking constricts major blood pathways to the brain which eventually decreases memory and mental capacity. Quit this filthy habit which has no redeeming value and hurts all around you, either through the air they breathe or the pain they’ll suffer when you become incapacitated!

Cut down on sugar! Did you know that high blood sugar stimulates a thickening of the blood vessel walls? No pun intended but think about that! How long do you want to retain your brain cells . . . perhaps just a little longer?

Try reducing colas and caffeinated products which can cause an imbalance in our bodily functions; increasing anxiety, sleep disruptions, higher blood pressure and ages cells. (2 cups of coffee or tea is fine.)

All through life, honor the LORD.

 “So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things . . .” (Ecclesiastes 7:25 

 

The “Secret” of Hyaluronic Acid and Younger Looking Skin

healthy-foodsI recently clicked onto an internet article on an anti-aging “secret” only to discover it was a come-on for a very expensive product promising younger looking skin. As I indicated in my last post, if we only ate better we’d look younger. Certainly we live under Grace and could spend mucho dollars each month searching for the illusive Fountain of Youth or we could simply eat better quality nutrients and save up for that world-wide cruise we long for.

The advertised product featured hyaluronic acid together with vitamin C. Big Whoop. I’ve always recommended vitamin C for younger looking skin to produce collagen but few people would recognize the fancy 50 cent word Hyaluronic Acid. Sounds impressive . . .  but is it worth the cost of an around- the-world-trip?  You make the call.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is simply a carbohydrate which can be found in green leafy vegetables, pineapple, pears, peaches, tomatoes, apples, bananas and avocados. It assists in rebuilding our skin tissue and stimulating collagen production. Who knew one could have radiant and luxurious skin simply by consuming fruits and vegetables???  Oh right, God did in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3.

One of the best sources of HA is found in chicken skin and bone broth. Chicken isn’t expensive and your grocery most likely has beef/pork bones to make your own broth. Other nutrients found in bone broths include magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, chondroitin sulfate and collagen. All work together with HA to keep us vibrantly young.

With the cold weather quickly approaching, I urge you to create your own healthy soups. There are plenty of recipes available! Search for any with lots of broth, tomatoes or green leafy vegetables and make a large pot of wholesome goodness to warm your insides and keep you young. “Consume 2 cups and call me in the morning.”

Lean proteins found in fatty fish will supplement the amino acids one needs to produce HA. So increase your consumption of salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines or trout.

There are other benefits to HA than simply younger looking skin. As we age, our eyes get dryer and our eyesight changes. Not only does HA affect your skin but it also moisturizes your eyes and improves eyesight because HA soaks up water like a sponge.

And as we age our joints begin to stiffen. HA surrounds and supports our molecular structure by absorbing  the water in foods. Therefore HA is a beneficial nutrient in saving our mobility too.

HA is found in so many items it’s almost impossible to miss out unless you consume a diet high in fattier proteins like sausage, ribs, bacon, cold cuts, etc. without fibrous vegetables which stimulate the production of HA, like most root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, yams and brown rice.

Have a glass of red wine or red grape juice with dinner. The skins of the grapes contain phytoestrogens which keeps our skin young-looking. Now phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens like soy products)  have been controversial over the years because of the rise of breast cancer symptoms. Personally I’m not worried because phytoestrogens are God-created. I’m more concerned with the large consumption and use of hormones and chemicals found in fast foods. However it would be wise to check with your doctor if your family has a history of breast cancer.

Sometimes I hear, “Ellie, it’s too expensive to eat well!” but that same complainer will spend a fortune on some illusive fountain of youth cream. Remember God looks at our tender heart, not our face!

“Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,” (Proverbs 3:13)