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!

 

 

 

Neutropenia: A Common Side Effect of Cancer

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and an extremely important part of our immune system as they help our body to fight infection.

Neutropenia is a condition where a person has an abnormally low concentration of neutrophils.

People who have neutropenia have a higher risk of getting serious infections because they do not have enough neutrophils to fight off invading and harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Cancer patients who are receiving treatment can be at risk of neutropenia. Neutrophils are made in the bone marrow and cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy can affect a patient’s bone health thus impacting neutrophil production. Neutropenia is also a common side effect in people with leukemia and can also be caused by solid tumour malignancies if they infiltrate the bone marrow.

Neutropenia is diagnosed by a routine complete blood count (CBC).

Symptoms of Neutropenia

The following are common signs of neutropenia:

  • A fever
  • Chills or sweating
  • Sore throat, sores in the mouth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain near the anus
  • Pain or burning when urinating, or urinating often
  • A cough or shortness of breath
  • Any redness, swelling, or pain (especially around a cut, wound, or catheter)
  • Unusual vaginal discharge or itching

Allopathic Management of Neutropenia

The treatment of neutropenia depends on its cause and severity. In some cases cancer treatment may be suspended until neutrophil count rises to an adequate level.

Patients may be given medication to help bone marrow regenerate new neutrophils.

And in cases where a disease has caused the drop in neutrophils, treatment of the disease will occur.

How Can You Support Your Immune System If You Are At Risk of Neutropenia?

Eat a healthy diet

  • Protein is the building block for the immune system. Foods such as eggs, quinoa and

       lean white meat are good sources

  • Zinc is a strong immune booster. Foods rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, shellfish and

       beans

  • Omega‐3 fatty acids increase phagocyte activity. Phagocytes are white blood cells that

        consume bacteria. Foods include flax seeds, wild caught salmon and chia seeds

  • Folate increases neutrophil count. Foods high in folate include leafy green vegetables,

        beans, and lentils.

  • Stay well hydrated drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day

Wash your hands frequently

Washing your hands helps to prevent the spread of germs to your nose, eyes and mouth.  All entry points to your body

Stay away from large groups

You are at greater risk of infection when your immune system is compromised.  During this time avoid large groups to help reduce your risk of coming in to contact with potentially harmful germs

Get lots of sleep

Proper sleep is a key piece of a healthy immune system.  Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night

Neutropenia can be serious.  Be aware of the symptoms and contact your doctor if you begin to experience any of them.


References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4059501/

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/physical-emotional-and-social-effects-cancer/managing-physical-side-effects/neutropenia

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery Natural Strategies for Preparation & Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments by Cathy Biase BSc., RHN, CPCC

 

Integrative Approaches for Dealing with Chemo Brain

The frustration that stems from the mental cloudiness experienced by many cancer patients going through chemotherapy is no laughing matter.  And although many may try to make light of it, chemo brain, as it is commonly known, can be a cause of great concern when a decrease in mental sharpness leads to the inability to remember important things, learn new skills or finish tasks.  This negative impact on everyday life can also impart a great emotional hit alongside the practical issues.

It’s Not Just Chemo

Chemo brain to some extent is a misnomer.  In reality mental fog can be experienced by patients who are not going through chemotherapy treatments.  Other noted causes include:

  • The actual diagnosis of cancer can contribute to mental unclarity
  • Medications such as pain killers
  • Radiation treatments
  • Lack of Sleep/Fatigue

  • Poor nutrition
  • Low blood counts
  • The cancer itself
  • Age

Integrative Approaches to Dealing with Chemo Brain

The one positive of this condition is that in most cases it is temporary and can be managed with a few helpful tips.

Get Good Quality Sleep and Enough of It

Lack of enough good quality sleep can be a contributing factor for brain fog.

Here are some tips to encourage a good night sleep:

  1. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
  2. Turn all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
  3. Sleep in cool room
  4. Sleep in darkness
  5. If you must have electronics in your room, keep them 2 feet away from your bed

Amp Up Your Nutrition

Incorporating a whole foods diet with key nutrients is an important step in dealing with brain fog. Goods fats need to be included in your daily diet and can be found in foods such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and cold water fish like salmon.

Choline and inositol are important nutrients for brain health. Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, beans, flax seeds and pistachios. Foods rich in inositol include beans and cantaloupe.

Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B12 (cobalamin) are important vitamins to include in your diet.

Food sources of B1 include eggs, salmon, asparagus, kale, cauliflower sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and brown rice.

B12 is readily available in meat and shellfish. If avoiding animal products, supplementing with B12 in the form of methylcobalamin should be considered.

Exercise

Exercise overall has many health benefits.

For brain fog, regular exercise can help to keep stress and anxiety in check and encourage a more restful sleep.

And a few other tips

From a life style perspective incorporating strategies in to your daily routine such as making lists, noting activities in to a calendar, setting reminders and challenging yourself with word puzzles and brain games can be very helpful for improving brain function.

For those who like online challenges, one of my favourite sites for brain games is BrainHQ

 


References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chemo-brain/symptoms-causes/syc-20351060

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/changes-in-mood-or-thinking/chemo-brain.html

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery
Natural Strategies for Preparation
and
Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Support Your Body’s Detoxification Process

Detoxification is an essential process that our body needs to perform effectively for us to be in good health.

Detoxing rids our body of toxins that accumulate both as a by-product of our natural body processes and from external environmental assaults.

Detoxification improves our ability to absorb nutrients and to eliminate waste.  It also stabilizes and improves our energy.

Our body is designed to detoxify.  That’s why we have 7 channels of elimination; our skin, lungs, kidneys, colon, lymphatic system, liver and blood.

We are bombarded every day with so many toxins that our system can become overwhelmed so it really is a kind gesture to ourselves to lend a hand to the process.

5 Natural Strategies to Support Detoxification

 

Sweat it out!

Sweating helps to move toxins out through our skin and helps to get our blood circulating.  Exercising and saunas are 2 great ways to get that body hot!

Get Good Quality Sleep

Our body doesn’t rest when we go to sleep.  It uses this time to detoxify and repair.  This is our liver’s playtime.  So getting good quality sleep is key for successful detoxification.  Here are some tips for a good night’s repose:

  • sleep in total darkness
  • shut off all electronics
  • sleep in a cool room
  • go to bed at the same time each night
  • get 7-8 hours of sleep each night

Keep Well Hydrated

A river runs through us and it’s made of water.  In a nutshell water carries nutrients to our cells and waste from them.  And water is involved in many of the physiological process carried out each and every day within us.

6-8 glasses of good quality water each day is minimum.  You want to make sure that you flush out those nasty toxins and support your kidneys in the process.

 

Move it!

Exercise supports all channels of elimination in particular it helps to flush out our lungs, get our blood circulating and our lymphatic system moving.  And as just mentioned working up an exercise sweat is a great way to help detox.

Eat a Whole Foods Diet

Avoiding processed foods and eating a whole foods diet is the backbone of successful detoxification. A healthy diet supplies necessary nutrients for our body to carry out the detoxification process.

Here are some powerhouse foods that you can start with:

  • leafy greens
  • cruciferous vegetables
  • onions
  • garlic
  • lemon
  • turmeric
  • blueberries
  • chlorella

Be kind to you!