10 Tips For Healthier BBQing

Summertime and outdoor cooking are a memory making duo!

And with the Long Weekend upon us, it is likely that grilling is a part of the plan.

But eating food prepared by cooking over an open flame can expose you to carcinogens.

When you expose your meat and fish to high heat and open flames it creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs). And the smoke that results from fat that drips and burns on the grill contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both of these chemicals have been linked to various types of cancer.

So, my intention is not to be a buzz kill here but to give you some tips to help you reduce the formation of these chemicals and keep you healthy!

10 Tips For Healthier BBQing

  1. Clean any char that has built up on your grill before you start cooking
  2. Lower the temperature and cook for a longer period of time
  3. Choose leaner cuts of meat
  4. Grill small portions. This reduces the time on the grill
  5. Remove skin and fat to reduce the dripping that leads to fire flares
  6. Avoid placing your food directly over the fire
  7. Grill on cedar planks
  8. Have a spray bottle filled with water handy to douse fire flare-ups
  9. Include fruits and veggies! BBQing isn’t just for meat.  In fact some of my favourite grilled food has nothing to do with meat at all.  You can grill all kinds of veggies on the grill.  And for desert how about grilled pineapple with cinnamon (a family favourite). Or grilled peaches.  Just yummy! 

10. Marinate your food and include heaps of herbs. This ups the flavour and  limits the formation of carcinogens. Studies have found that adding herbs and spices such as rosemary, basil, mint and thyme to beef reduces the formation of HCAs

 

 

To help you along with this last point, here are some ingredients that you can mix and match to create a tasty marinade that you can use for your next shindig!

Marinade Mix and Matching Ingredients

Oils:

Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Sesame Oil

Citrus:

Lemon, Lime, Orange

Seasonings:

Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt, Black Pepper,
Cayenne Pepper, Smoked Paprika

Fresh Things:

Garlic, Ginger, Onion, Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
Chives, Oregano

**Mix well the ingredients of choice and marinade for at least one hour


References

Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet

Marinades Reduce Heterocyclic Amines from Primitive Food Preparation Techniques

https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2010-07/marinades-reduce-heterocyclic-amines-primitive-food-preparation-techniques

To Block The Carcinogens, Add A Touch Of Rosemary When Grilling Meats

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080521184129.htm

 

 

 

hot peppers

Why Do Hot Peppers Bring the Heat?

There are three basic groups of peppers: bell, sweet, and hot. People all over the world eat them in one form or another.  Some eat for them the flavour, some eat them for the challenge and many for a combination of the two.

I am going to focus here on the hot variety and just why they are so.

Peppers are hot because they contain a chemical called capsaicin and related chemicals called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin acts by binding with nerve receptors generally used to transmit heat and heat-related pain in the body. The higher the capsaicin content the hotter the pepper.

Scoville Heat Unit

In 1912 a chemist named Wilbur Scoville invented a scale to measure the heat of peppers.  To this day pepper heat is measured in the Scoville Heat Unit.  Bell and sweet peppers have zero Scoville units since they have no capsaicin. Jalepeno peppers measure from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units and the pepper that I mistakenly planted this year, the Bhut Jolokia chili pepper or ghost pepper, which holds the distinction of being the world’s hottest chili pepper, measures 1,001,304 Scoville.

Back to capsaicin. It’s a flavourless and odourless substance found on the inside flesh of peppers. The experience of heat happens when the chemical binds to receptors that are made to respond to pain and heat in the throat and mouth. This tricks the brain into thinking that your mouth is on fire, causing your body to fight the “heat” by boosting your metabolism (increasing circulation) and cooling via perspiration.

After the brain gets this heat alert it sends out the cooling troops to neutralize and remove the heat.  These troops work to increased circulation by initiating cooling perspiration and reactions like a runny nose and teary eyes.

Myth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the seeds so removing them minimizes the heat.

Truth:

A chilli pepper’s spicy heat comes from the pith and ribs of the pepper, not the seeds.

The seeds may be coated with some of the capsaicin because they are in contact with the rib.  But the seeds themselves don’t actually contain any heat.

The ribs contain a good deal of the capsaicin heat but the flesh itself contains a good amount of heat as well.

So why can some people beat the heat while others suffer the fire?

There are 3 reasons proposed to answer this question.

1. Less Capsaicin Detecting Receptors

This theory states that some people inherit fewer of the capsaicin-detecting receptors that line your mouth and throat, making them less sensitive to hot peppers.

2. Training our heat receptors

An associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, William Phillips, pointed out that people in some parts of the world such as Mexico or India naturally have higher tolerance for spicy food because they begin eating them at a very young age.

This receptor training desensitizes a person to capsaicin over time so they actually perceive less burn from capsaicin.

3. Thrill Seekers Love the Burn

This is interesting.  There was a  study done in 2012 that showed sensation-seeking individuals are more likely to like spicy food. The researchers found that people who are more open to new experiences and enjoy thrill-based activities, think roller coaster and rock climbing, tend to enjoy spicy food even if the immediate sensation is unpleasant.

Nadia Byrnes, one of the researchers stated that “Biologically, spice creates a sensation in the mouth that the brain interprets as burning or being on fire. When your body realizes there’s no real danger, it begins to interpret the sensation as a ‘thrill’ similar to gambling or riding roller coasters.”

Why are peppers healthy?

Hot peppers are healthy and here is why:

  • Capsaicin
    On top of being “hot,” capsaicin has been shown to be anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic.
  • Vitamins
    Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants like vitamin A and also B-complex vitamins like vitamin B-6 and B-1.
  • Minerals
    Chillies have a good amount of minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

There are countless ways to incorporate hot peppers in to your diet. Your first decision however is to determine what types of peppers pack just the right amount of heat for you.

Hot Pepper Oil

Here is a handy dandy way to use hot peppers.

Is it a recipe?  Not sure but here is how it goes.

In a glass jar with a lid (I use 125ml one) cut up a a few peppers (I use 2-3 different types usually) enough to fill about half of the jar.

Fill the jar with a very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil making sure all pepper are covered. Put the lid on the jar and let it sit for at least one day before using it.

This condiment is great on just so many dishes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Microbiome Testing: Another Marker Of Your Health

Guest Post Article By:

Richard Lin
Founder / CEO
www.thryveinside.com

 

As our “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Yet, the precursor to all disease is inflammation. Since our immune system is responsible for inflammation, there must be a tie between our gut health and our immune system. Well, there is! In fact, up to 80% of our immune cells reside in our gut. That’s why the key to a strong immune system is to improve your gut health!

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

There are many triggers that set off an immune response in our system. Perhaps none are greater than our food sources. Many of the foods we eat are deficient in nutrients. They are fried in unhealthy fats, preserved with artificial ingredients, and sweetened with refined sugars. 

Many of these foods are made of ingredients that our healthy bacteria don’t enjoy. Therefore, solid food particles and artificial molecules remain in the body. So, our immune system kicks in to eliminate these potential hazards by causing inflammation. Once the threat is eliminated from the system, inflammation ceases. All is merry again.

Unfortunately, our round-the-clock diets have evolved to include a lot of inflammatory foods. From GMOs to increased sensitivity towards allergens to the use of pesticides, our food supplies set us up for a lifetime of inflammation. 

How Chronic Inflammation Ruins Gut Health

Our body is composed of trillions of microbes that range from bacteria to fungi to viruses. We depend on our gut bacteria to help keep a lot of these other microbes in check. All the while, we also depend on our gut bacteria to break down food, help create energy, and boost nutrient absorption. That’s a lot of burdens!

For our gut bacteria to work optimally, we must feed them a diet rich in fiber. Unfortunately, a vast majority of us don’t get enough fiber. So, over the course of this lifetime, we end up starving out our healthy bacteria.

Even worse, the immune system doesn’t have an ally that can help modulate inflammation. In turn, inflammation becomes chronic. As a result, immune cells and beneficial gut bacteria start to die off. 

Without healthy gut bacteria, the body is susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal attacks. When this happens, we can develop a litany of life-threatening illnesses, including cancer. 

How to Improve Gut Health and Immune System

Everyone’s body is different. Therefore, we all have different ratios of gut bacteria in the body. The key to fixing your gut health and immune system is to get a gut health test kit.

Microbiome testing company, Thryve, sends you everything you need to collect a sample from your toilet paper safely and mail it to their laboratory. Their specialists will analyze your DNA and give you an in-depth report of bacteria living in your gut.

Even better, they offer custom probiotics to help bring balance to your system. In turn, your immune system will have the backup necessary to help control chronic inflammation that can cause many chronic life-threatening conditions, including cancer. 

 

What You Eat Can Impact Your Stress Level

In challenging times like these when stress and worry are peaking don’t forget to look at what is at the end of your fork for some help.  You can get a lot of support from the meals that you put together.

Let’s take a look at ideal inclusion and needed exclusions.

What You Eat Contributes To Your Stress Level

Food that contains a lot of sugar can cause a roller coaster ride for your blood sugar and this can cause you to feel jittery and to have mood swings.  Best to stay away from foods in this category.

Keeping in line with the thought of controlling blood sugar, complex carbohydrates, foods high in fiber, are an important inclusion in a diet focusing on stress busting.  Fiber slows down the speed that sugar enters into your blood stream, so it helps you to avoid those sudden spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels, balancing your mood and easing your stress.  Foods high in fiber include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, celery, berries, leafy greens, beans and whole grains.

Fiber is also key for your gut microbiome health and because your brain and gut are connected a healthy, happy gut microbiome leads to a happier you.

And if we are talking about creating a happy gut, we can’t forget fermented foods that are a good source of probiotics. So, we are talking about things like kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar and kimchi.

Some studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for improving mood.  One possible reason is that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain cell structure and function.  Another could be that they provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.

Food sources of omega-3’s include wild caught salmon, sardines, flax seeds and chia seeds.

Magnesium is a go to supplement for improving sleep, quelling stress and calming nerves but why not get it from the food that you eat?  Foods naturally rich in magnesium are leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard and dark chocolate.

Adaptogens

Finally, I want to mention that you can incorporate adaptogens to help you handle stress.

Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Holy Basil and some mushrooms including reishi and cordyceps are known to support the body’s ability to handle stress.

These can be easily included into your diet as teas or added into smoothies, salads and soups.

Here is one idea for you!

 

Stress Busting Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients & Directions

Add to your blender and combine:

1 cup non-dairy milk (I love cashew for this one)

1 TBSP cacao powder

1 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)

1 tsp Ashwagandha powder

1 tsp Reishi mushroom powder

After you blend the ingredients add them to a pot and warm up. ⁠

Top with cinnamon if you like⁠

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/fish-oil-supplements/faq-20058143

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC538287/

 

Diabetes, Mitochondria & Cancer

Type 2 Diabetes is a known precursor for many different cancers.

Type 2 Diabetes also appears to confer a significantly greater risk in women than men for cancers of the mouth, stomach, kidney and for leukaemia.

With the knowledge that chronic inflammation fuels complications of Type 2 Diabetes, including cardiovascular and kidney issues, determining the underlying causes of inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes is very important for the development of treatments.  The prevailing assumption has held glucose to be the main determinant.

However, new research from scientists at the University of Kentucky has shown that changes to mitochondria drive chronic inflammation from cells exposed to certain types of fats.  This new finding does not disprove glucose as a mechanism for inflammation but it does shed light on the puzzling situation of people with tight glucose control still seeing disease progression.

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are organelles found in every human cell except for red blood cells. The more energy a cell needs the more mitochondria it will have.  Mitochondria take in nutrients, break them down and create energy for a vast number of cellular functions.

Improving Mitochondrial Health

With the results of this study in mind, improving the health mitochondria is a logical piece of the puzzle for cancer prevention.

Let’s look at some ways to do this.

Exercise

Mitochondria are essential providers of energy for cellular survival.  They are also key to the function of apoptosis, or programmed cellular death.  Exercise is key to increasing mitochondrial health and biogenesis.

Intermittent Fasting

 Intermittent fasting has been shown to remove damaged mitochondria from the body through a process known as mitophagy. It also improves mitochondria homeostasis leading to more optimal functioning.

As well, by avoiding over consumption you reduce the amount of fuel that your mitochondria is required to burn.  This serves to limit free radicals, a by-product of mitochondrial function.

Toxins

The deleterious effects of environmental toxins on mitochondrial function has been studied extensively in humans.  Doing your best to avoid environmental toxins, improving the environmental health of your home and workplace and supporting your natural detoxification pathways to aid your system in the elimination of acquired toxins are vital for supporting your mitochondrial health.

Diet

Poor diet can lead to excessive free radicals and inflammation.  Your mitochondria also produce free radicals.  Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides needed antioxidants to counteract harmful effects of these free radicals.

________________

 

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-018-4664-5

https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30377-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413119303778%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31674658

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448716

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078194/