Rama Lama Lama Ka Dinga Da Dinga Dong

We go together
Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong…

Are you a Grease fan?  Yes? No? Undecided? It really doesn’t matter because from here on in what I’m going to focus on has nothing to do with one of the all-time best movies EVER!  Except for one stolen line from a song.

And in this space what goes together are food sources that contains both prebiotics and probiotics.

Here is a simple equation that I want you to put into memory:

Prebiotic Food + Probiotic Food = Symbiotic Food

And here is why.  If you want to improve your gut health or maintain the good gut health you already have, there are two things you must do. Consume probiotic foods and consume prebiotics foods. And for the biggest bang for your buck consume them together.

Probiotic foods contain beneficial organisms that help our gut perform its duties.  They have amazing health benefits for us.

Examples of probiotic foods are sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, miso, natto, pure apple cider vinegar (with the mother in it) and true balsamic vinegar.

As a side note here, in order to deliver the beneficial organisms from fermented foods to the gut, as well as the enzymes these foods also contain, do not heated past a temperature of 118 degrees F (48 C).

Prebiotics are types of fibre like inulin, resistant starch, GOS and FOS that help feed our good bacteria. Prebiotics also enhance the absorption of calcium and magnesium and are involved in appetite regulation as well as lipid metabolism.

Examples of prebiotic foods are Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onions, beans, lentil, citrus fruits, pears, apples, bananas, berries, almonds broccoli which contains soluble fibres like inulin and FOS.

Resistant starch (starch that escapes from digestion in the small intestine) is found in foods like legumes, potatoes, wheat, corn, rye, barley, rice, spelt, kamut, and other grains.

GOS is found in dairy products.

We have two types of bacteria strains in our gut: residential and transient.

Residential bacteria strains are the bacteria that live in our gut naturally and we must re-populate them to stay healthy. We need prebiotics to help us feed and increase our residential bacteria.

Transient strains of bacteria pass through us (usually within 3 days) but while they are there, they help the gut do its work and keep us healthy. Probiotic foods contain transient bacteria.

Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why consuming both prebiotic and probiotic foods on a regular basis is essential.  It nourishes our gut microbiome and helps to establish new colonies of microorganisms.

Symbiotic Eating

Back to this equation:

Prebiotic Food + Probiotic Food = Symbiotic Food

Symbiotic food combines the characteristics of probiotic food and prebiotic food.  Specific foods that are symbiotic are tofu, sauerkraut and tempeh.

Eating symbiotically by combining foods can be as simple as mixing banana slices into your yogurt or serving sauerkraut with a meal that contains garlic and onions.

Research is continuing to discover how fascinating these substances in food are and how together, with our good bacteria, they are involved in a complex relationship to help us be healthy.


References:

“The benefits of symbiotic foods” SHA Wellness Clinic

Inulin-Type Fructans: Functional Food Ingredients1,2 Marcel B. Roberfroid, 2007 American Society for Nutrition

Health effects of probiotics and prebiotics A literature review on human studies, Henrik Andersson, Nils-Georg Asp, Åke Bruce, Stefan Roos, Torkel Wadström, Agnes E. Wold, Food and Nutrition Research, Vol 45, 2001

Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: approaches for modulating the microbial ecology of the gut 1,2M David Collins and Glenn R Gibson, 1999 American Society for Clinical Nutrition

Lowbush Wild Blueberries have the Potential to Modify Gut Microbiota and Xenobiotic Metabolism in the Rat Colon

Alison Lacombe,Robert W. Li,Dorothy Klimis-Zacas,Aleksandra S. Kristo, Shravani Tadepalli,Emily Krauss, Ryan Young,Vivian C. H. Wu mail Published: June 28, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.006749

A Systematic Screening of Total Antioxidants in Dietary Plants1, Bente L. Halvorsen et al, Institute for Nutrition Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo; Akershus University College, Bekkestua, Norway; †Agricultural University of Norway, Ås, Norway; and the Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Current knowledge of the health benefits and disadvantages of wine consumption, John F. Tomera, Trends in Food Science & Technology – TRENDS FOOD SCI TECHNOL 01/1999; 10(4):129-138. DOI: 10.1016/S0924-2244(99)00035-7

 

 

Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

My son challenges me.  It’s kind of this game that we play.  Sometimes it’s not fun.

One of the first things questions he threw at me when I started my practice was:

“Is it better to each fruits and veggies raw or cooked?”

The research commenced!

Honestly he wasn’t the only one to put this question to me so the time was well spent!

Raw vs. Cooked

Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked.

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people.

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

Cancer patients may face some issues with digesting raw fruits and vegetables due to the impact of some treatments on the GI tract.  In such cases cooking these foods will help to break down the fibre, making it easier to digest.

The answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.”  As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).

Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.

Foods to eat raw

As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.

The reason why is two-fold.

First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade;  this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.

Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).

Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.

The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water soluble.”  So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water?  Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water;  this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that steamed as well.

Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.

But, how much loss are we talking about?  Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.

In short, the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.

Soaking nuts and seeds

Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.

Foods to eat cooked

Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.

Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!

Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s one factor to consider.

One vegetable that’s best eaten both raw and cooked

Spinach!

And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, of course).

Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s great eaten both raw and cooked.

Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.

Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.

Conclusion:

The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.

Having trouble eating enough spinach? Try this flavourful recipe.

Recipe (cooked spinach): Sautéed Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • Fresh lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
  4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
  5. Saute cook spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
  6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.

__________________________________

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/cooking-nutrient-content/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-nutrients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chai Tea Latte

I’m not sure what I enjoy the most about Chai tea; its flavour or its smell.  Perhaps it’s the combination of the two that has won my heart.

Chai tea is made from a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves.  And it is these spices that give Chai its many health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties:

The chemopreventative benefit of a whole foods diet is often attributed to phytochemicals, such as terpenoids and polyphenols, found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Spices, (which) tend to have high concentrations of these classes of potentially therapeutic agents…Many spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, clove and ginger, have shown promise as chemopreventative and therapeutic agents in cancer. In vitro and in vivo, each of these compounds has demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties. Thus, chai tea, which contains a combination of all the aforementioned spices, represents an enjoyable means of chemoprevention.

~The Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventative Effects of Chai Tea; Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

The recipe below is a twist on the normal Chai tea latte that is milk-based.  As well as tasting great, this latte offers you:

  • Antioxidants
  • Healthy fats
  • Fiber

And you can enjoy it cooled, outside on a hot summer day. Or hot, snuggled up by the fire on a cool winter’s night. A true functional food that can really be enjoyed all year long!

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 1-2 dates 
  • Cinnamon (optional)

Directions

  1. Cover the teabag and dates with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Discard the tea bag and place tea, soaked dates, tahini and almond butter into a blender.
  3. Blend mixture until creamy.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon (if using) and serve right away.

If you want a cold beverage, simply chill it in your refrigerator for a bit and serve over ice.

Enjoy!


References:How Chai Tea Can Improve Your Health: Healthline

The Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventative Effects of Chai Tea; Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Are You A Dipper?

If you were to regularly take your blood pressure when you wake up each day and just before you go to bed at night you should notice a pattern of variance between the 2 readings.

This is because our blood pressure has a circadian rhythm.

Blood pressure is normally lower at night and then starts to rise a few hours before you wake up. It continues to rise during the day, usually peaking in the middle of the afternoon. Then in the late afternoon and evening, your blood pressure begins dropping again.

This is a healthy dipping pattern and denotes a healthy blood pressure circadian rhythm.

So, what happens if this is not the case?  What if you don’t dip?

There are many studies suggesting that people who do not show an appropriate nocturnal dip in blood pressure, called non-dippers, are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular complications and disease. 

We can greatly impact our blood pressure, both negatively and positively, by our sleeping pattern.

Research has found that those who sleep less than 4 hours a night are at a higher risk of hypertension, which is high blood pressure, than those who sleep 7 hours each night.

And here’s a kicker. Even one bad night’s sleep can have an impact by causing a spike in blood pressure that night!

Home Monitoring Of Your Blood Pressure 

Taking your blood pressure reading regularly is a simple habit to develop.  It will give you a day to day snapshot of your reading and over time give you a pattern of your blood pressure. This will help you to identify irregularities or changes.

And this is important both for cancer prevention and for those going through treatment.

Hypertension is associated with a higher risk for not only developing cancer but dying from it as well.

In one large study that included 289,454 men and 288,345 women, the results showed that higher than normal blood pressure was statistically significantly associated with a 10-20% higher risk of developing cancer in men, and a higher risk of dying from the disease in both men and women.

And for those in active care, there is a known association between chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and the development or worsening of hypertension. 

There is a known association between chemotherapy and radiotherapy for treatment of cancer patients and development or worsening of hypertension…Morbidity and mortality increased in patients with cancer and hypertension without proper antihypertensive treatment. We concluded that there is need for early diagnosis, effective monitoring and treatment strategies for hypertension in cancer patients in order to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality

As well, other medications used to treat cancer can cause a rapid onset of elevated blood pressure. 

So, in both cancer prevention and in active care, monitoring your blood pressure is a simple yet powerful tool to include in your own health protocol.

If you have early warning signs of a change in your blood pressure, whether in active cancer care or in prevention, you can bring this to the attention of your physician and get ahead of potential issues.


References

Sleep and Hypertension

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913764/

High blood pressure is linked to increased risk of developing or dying from cancer

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926182618.htm

Association between blood pressure and risk of cancer development: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-45014-4#:~:text=Over%20the%20past%20few%20decades,to%20men%20(63%25%20vs.

Hypertension in Patients with Cancer

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4386854/

Hypertension and cancer treatment

https://siteman.wustl.edu/treatment/cardio-oncology/high-blood-pressure/#:~:text=Hypertension%20and%20cancer%20treatment,pressure%20are%20anti%2DVEGF%20medications.

 

Common Is Not A Bad Word

I have a great spaghetti sauce recipe that I got from my mom many years ago.

I make it A LOT! It’s a family favourite.

In fact, it may just have been the first meal that I cooked when I got married.

Fast track a few years from that first meal and I became a nutritionist. And with that I thought, it became incumbent upon me to nutricize everything that we ate.  A pinch of chia.  A dash of hemp.

Well the team started to revolt.  Old favs, like gran’s spaghetti sauce, fell from grace.

And here is the thing.  The spaghetti sauce is a simple recipe made up of healthy ingredients.

I learned my lesson quick and hard. Don’t try and fix it if it’s not broken.

One of the seasonings that I use in my spaghetti sauce recipe is Black Pepper, a very common seasoning that I think is under appreciated and quite honestly not given the respect that it deserves.

Heap On Those Seasonings!

Herbs and spices play a big role in the kitchen and flavouring food is only of their amazing skills.

Have a look:

  • The strong aromatic flavour of herbs and spices stimulates the palette and the digestive juices
  • Each culinary herb plays some role in the GI tract
  • Every herb and spice have health promoting phytonutrients

And there is a growing body of evidence to support the notion that culinary herbs and spices have multiple anticancer characteristics including antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-tumorigenic properties.

Health Benefits Of Black Pepper

So back to that common old everyday spice Black Pepper.  Black Pepper is harvested from a flowering vine and cultivated for its fruit, the peppercorn.  Usually the peppercorn is dried and used as a seasoning.

Along with its often-partnered pal salt,  Black Pepper is used in many, many recipes that we google.

And it truly does bring a lot to the party.

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that Black Pepper has to offer:

√It stimulates the taste buds which signals the stomach to secret Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

√It helps prevent the formation of gas

√It promotes sweating and urination 

√It is an antioxidant and  an antibacterial

√It is an anti-inflammatory

And perhaps its greatest benefit is that it aids in the absorption of other nutrients. 

Black Pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of calcium and selenium as well as beneficial plant compounds such as those found in green tea and turmeric

Black Pepper deserves its spot on the top shelf of our spice rack and is a great example that sometimes, often times, common is just fine!


References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27529277/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29497610/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-pepper-benefits#710.-Other-benefits