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You have probably heard that a healthy digestive system is key to a healthy body. Why is this? Many believe that the immune system directly relies on the health of your digestive tract. Your intestines are filled with flora that maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. When that healthy balance is disrupted, you have what is called dysbiosis. Bad bacteria becomes predominant in the intestines, and that bad mix can also be candida (yeast), or protozoa.
Digestion begins in the mouth, where your teeth start the process by crushing your food. The crushed food is then mixed with saliva in the mouth. Enzymes within saliva begin to break down the food. Once food enters the stomach, it gets churned and broken up and fats are emulsified. Within the stomach enzymes such as pancreatic juices and hydrochloric acid are introduced into the digestion process. Once the food passes to the small intestine, where the good and bad bacteria reside, the process of nutrient absorption begins. When that unbalance occurs, dysbiosis, the nutrient absorption is disrupted and malnutrition occurs.
Signs or Symptoms Of Dysbiosis:
Bloating, belching, burning, flatulence after meals
A sense of feeling full after eating
Indigestion, diarrhea, constipation
Nausea or diarrhea after taking supplements
Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose in those who are not alcoholics
Post-adolescent acne or skin irritations such as rosacea
Chronic intestinal infections, parasites, yeast, unfriendly bacteria
Undigested food in the stool
Stools are greasy
Your skin bruises easily
Absence of menstruation or Amenorrhea
Weak or cracking fingernails
So what sort of things can cause dysbiosis? Stress, is one cause. If your immune system is suppressed, adding stress to that can disrupt the digestive tract. Inflammation can be a contributor too. Diets that are poor and lacking the proper nutrition will attribute to the imbalance in gut bacteria. Another cause of dysbiosis can be frequent antibiotic or drug therapy. The antibiotics strip the digestive system of bacteria, the good and the bad. It’s indiscriminatory. If any or all of these factors are present in your body, the addition of intestinal infections or even a parasitic infection will increase dysbiosis too. If the intestinal tract is balanced, the body can fight off the bad bacteria or parasites in order to keep the population under control and balanced, or in symbiosis.
To make a big change in your health, start with your digestive system. Here are four ways to heal your gut.
Remove all food toxins from your diet. Food toxins are sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup), omega-6 oils like corn oil, cereal grains and processed soy.
Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)
Eat fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc., and/or take a high-quality, multi-species probiotic
Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present
Take steps to manage your stress
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by inadequate production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas and has a key role in controlling blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is also frequently associated with excess weight and high blood levels of fats. Wheat grass, which is scientifically known as Triticum aestivum, is a herb from the wheat family. Wheat grass is a natural source of vitamins A, C, E, K and B complex and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, amino acids and chlorophyll. The juice from wheat grass leaves usually are consumed in the raw form, and done so by many, as a medicinal practice.
Because wheatgrass is rich in healthy nutrients, this herb has been proposed for improving a variety of health conditions, from boosting immune system and antibacterial activity to colon detoxification, diabetes and cancer. However clinical studies are needed to confirm these health benefits.
In December 2009, a study was published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology , stating that wheatgrass has a definite role in improving glucose and lipids levels and can effectively be used in the management of diabetes. The study was conducted on 30 volunteers, where wheatgrass was added to one meal. Glycemic index (GI) is a number that measures the impact that a food has on blood glucose levels. It is recommended that diabetics should consume low GI foods. The researchers found that adding 15 g of wheat grass to certain foods significantly lowered the GI of those foods and thus improving blood glucose levels. The blood levels of some fats called triglycerides were also improved in the participants who consumed wheatgrass. Hopefully more larger scale studies can be completed to back up these findings.
Wheatgrass has a good safety profile and aside from the sweet flavor, is well tolerated by most. Rare side effects include mild nausea and headaches. Findings from USDA research notes, “Gluten is found only in the seed kernel (endosperm) and not in the stem and grass leaves.” However many are still a bit skeptical. Of course, there is an exception, if the company has gotten gluten-free certification through the Celiac Sprue Association, the Gluten Intolerance Group, or the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, where products are tested to contain less than 5ppm or 10 ppm of gluten, respectively.
The safety of wheatgrass is not fully assessed during pregnancy or lactation, so it is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume wheatgrass.
Always consult with a qualified health-care provider before starting any new health regimen, and to find out optimal dosage of daily wheatgrass that may help improve your condition. Wheatgrass does not replace and should not be used to replace any medication you are currently taking.
Happy Easter everyone! I have a brand new recipe for you! Not only is this Strawberry Cake an Easter treat, but it can be used for any occasion! This sweet treat will leave you jumping for more.
2 cups of white sugar
1 three ounce packet of strawberry flavored Jell-O
1 cup of butter, softened
2 3/4 cups of sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup of whole milk (room temp)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 a cup of strawberry puree from frozen sweetened strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and dry strawberry gelatin mix, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes in oven, or until a small knife inserted to the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before tapping out to cool completely.
This recipe is so easy, and scrum-diddly-umptious! I hope you can enjoy this treat with close family, or friends! I hope you have an egg-cellent Easter!
Kid’s Corner By: Kaila, 12
This golden brown, soft Easter Bunny Bread filled with dip is irresistible. Be sure to position yourself closest to the ears so you can nab one when you give the go-ahead! My kids LOVE to help make this bunny every Easter! It has been a tradition in our family since 2005. I love to keep the magic alive!
EASTER BUNNY BREAD
Approximately 2 pounds homemade bread dough [or 2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen bread dough, thawed]
2 pieces of dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, blueberries, etc…)
1 egg, beaten
Your favorite dip
Vegetable sticks or florets (carrots, celery, cucumbers, pea pods, cauliflower, broccoli, etc…)
Cut your ball of dough into two pieces that are approximately 1 pound each.
Set one piece aside.
Cut about ¼ off of the remaining hunk of dough.
Roll the piece into a ball and then flatten slightly on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet to form the bunny’s head.
Roll the other ¾ of the dough piece into a ball and flatten into a large oval that is about 6-inches across. This will be the bunny’s body.
Place the body directly below (and in contact with) the head on the cookie sheet.
Cut the second dough ball into four equally sized pieces and roll into balls.
Roll two of the pieces into long, snaky ropes (about 15 or so inches long) and then fold the ropes in half.
Place on either side of the head as ears and tuck the ends slightly under the head.
Take a third dough ball, split into two equally sized pieces and roll into balls.
Position one ball on either side of the base of the bunny’s body like back paws.
Use a bench knife or butter knife to cut two slits at the outside edges of the back paws to form bunny toes. What? They have toes.
Divide the last remaining portion of bread into 3 equally sized pieces.
Roll two of the pieces into balls and place against either side of the upper third of the bunny’s body to serve as front paws.
Take the remaining dough and cut off ¼ of the dough.
Roll the tiny piece into a ball and position on the bunny’s head to serve as the nose.
Cut the final piece of dough into two equal pieces.
Roll those pieces into balls and position under the nose for the bunny’s cheeks.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and almost doubled in bulk (about an hour in a warm room.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove plastic wrap, brush lightly with beaten egg and push the two pieces of dried fruit into the bunny’s head for it’s eyes.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bunny is golden brown.
Let rest on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Transfer the cooled bunny bread to a serving platter.
Cut a hole equal to the size of the bowl you will use for your dip from the belly of the bunny.
Set the bowl of dip down into the bunny bread.
Arrange vegetable sticks and crudités around the bunny and serve!
You can, alternatively, line the hole in the bunny’s belly with lettuce leaves, or a hollowed out bell pepper and put the dip directly into it. I like to put the dip into a bowl and then place it in the bunny belly; you can better salvage any leftover dip after the bread is devoured! This would also be preferable if you think you may have leftover bread.
Gluten Free Crispy Fish Fillets with Lemon-Dill Aioli
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (my favorites are Glutino or 4C brand)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 (6-ounce) skinless cod (halibut and tilapia are an option too) fillets
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise (such as Hellmann’s)
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Preheat broiler to high.
Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Combine gluten free breadcrumbs, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in a shallow dish. On a side note, I occasionally add a little dried dill to this breadcrumb mixture. I’m a big dill fan. Sprinkle fish evenly with pepper and salt. Dip each fillet in egg white, then dredge in gluten free breadcrumb mixture; place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
Combine mayonnaise, pickle, lemon juice, garlic powder, and dill. Serve with fish fillets, lemon wedges and your favorite steamed vegetable. This is such a yummy dish! Enjoy!
When I came across this article on MindBodyGreen.com, I was shocked to read the headline and actually had to read it a few times! It was an avocado surprise to me! I had never, ever, considered the fact that you can eat the avocado pit or seed! Yes, I said the seed!! The following is a direct excerpt from the article on MindBodyGreen.com, and I will be trying the avocado pit smoothie for sure! The curiosity is killing me! Mind blown.
It comes as no surprise that avocados are incredibly healthy, but did you know that the pit houses most of its antioxidants? That’s right — the part that you have been throwing away! By consuming it, you will reap the following benefits:
- It acts as a digestive aid. Because the pit is high in soluble fiber, your GI tract will love it.
- The fiber will alsokeep you feeling full, thereby diminishing cravings.
- Considering the pit is full of antioxidants, it willkeep your skin glowing. In fact, it can even repair cell damage caused by free radicals and rebuild collagen.
- A phytochemical known as flavonol is found in the seed, which mayreduce tumor growth.
- A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University found that the avocado seeds may improve high cholesterol and even help in the treatment of hypertension and diabetes.
- It contains several nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
In order to utilize these nutritious powerhouses, you can either blend them up in your smoothies or grate them and then sprinkle them on top of your salads or other food. If you do not have a high-powered blender, you can grind the pit into a fine powder using a food processor. Because the seed tastes bitter, it is best to pair it with strong flavors. You may want to just utilize half of the pit at a time for a single-serve smoothie.
Delicious Avocado Pit Smoothie
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1½ medium banana
- 1 avocado pit or avocado pit powder
- 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder of choice
- 5 drops essential orange oil (optional)
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend on a medium-high setting for a minute. Enjoy!
Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! I decided to look up the history of St Patrick’sDay and to my surprise, learned some things I was not aware of! According to history.com “Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread.” I would never have imagined the St Patrick’s Day parades began in New York! Makes a lot more sense to me now why, when I was in New York in 2006, the St Patrick’s Day parade was huge and crowded! A very fun celebration in deed!
In celebration of everything green, I am posting a favorite green drink to honor your health! To help keep you on track, or get you started, on a healthy life style, try this delicious green smoothie. Clean, green and full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate, this smoothie is high in electrolytes and cleanses the skin, kidneys and liver! The apples contain pectin, which is a great form of fiber that may reduce cholesterol levels too. Make sure you use organic produce to reduce your exposure to the harmful pesticides! It will defeat the health benefits, in my opinion, if you do not use fresh organic produce! ENJOY!
3 celery sticks
Juice of one lemon
Small handful parsley
1 C coconut water
1/4 C mint leaves
handful of kale or spinach
Wash all produce well. Chop ingredients and blend in a high powered blender until smooth. Serve, enjoy and Happy St Patrick’s Day!
The recent article I did on the Environmental Working Group’s list of The Dirty Dozen, Plus, has kept my mind focused on organics and what to buy at the store. I came across some supplemental info that I thought could be helpful for those of us that want to make sure we are eating safe and organic. I received a handy pocket reference guide from the Environmental Working Group, and I thought I would share it. Its good to have a reminder of how to keep our food safe. It has come in handy as a conversation starter with the kids while shopping and even strangers who see us referring to it while shopping. Makes me feel proud, when I see my kids reach for organic foods. I’m simply teaching them about how to care more for themselves…it feels good. The things they learn now, can only make their futures, and lives better.
Have you ever asked what pesticides are on your produce? Do you ever wonder if certain produce could be safer than others? I discussed yesterday that getting produce from different countries can reduce the exposure to pesticides. Each year the Environmental Working Group releases its list of produce you should definitely eat organic, as they contain the most pesticides if not purchased organic. They call it their Dirty Dozen.
According to the EWG, “In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important report that said that children have “unique susceptibilities to [pesticide residues’] potential toxicity.” The pediatricians’ organization cited research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.” It advised its members to urge parents to consult “reliable resources that provide information on the relative pesticide content of various fruits and vegetables.” Health problems such as cancer, developmental problems and lower IQ in children, have been linked to pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
The Environmental Working Group shared its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, in late 2015 which ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Food and Drug Administration, analyze thousands of samples from these popular fruits and vegetables. Pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even if they were washed or peeled! That’s bothersome!
“We are saying, eat your fruits and vegetables,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst. “But know which ones have the highest amounts of pesticides so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable.”
Here are highlights from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. These fruits and vegetables are ranked from the worst to best:
Apples: More than 45 different pesticides have been detected on apples. That same residue can be found in juices, apple sauce, so it is smart to buy these organic as well.
Peaches: More than 60 different pesticides are found on them. Again find organic or avoid the fruit to reduce exposure to pesticides.
Nectarines: Imported nectarines are among the most highly contaminated tree fruits. Domestic are not quite as bad, but over 33 pesticides have been detected on those.
Strawberries: More than 40 pesticides have been found on strawberries, however fewer are found on frozen strawberries.
Grapes: Imported grapes have more than 50 pesticides, which correlates into raisins have high pesticide residue as well.
Celery: More than 60 pesticides are found on celery. Find organic for a safe alternative.
Spinach: More than 50 pesticides are found on spinach, while frozen spinach has nearly as many, frozen spinach has fewer detected pesticides.
Sweet Bell Peppers: Nearly 50 different pesticides have been detected on sweet bell peppers, all colors.
Cucumbers: As many as 83 different pesticides can remain on the skin of the vegetable even after washing! Peeling the skin can reduce that number, but you still will ingest some pesticides.
Cherry Tomatoes: If you cannot grow your own tomatoes, you need to find organic.
Potatoes: More than 30 pesticides are fund on potatoes. Sweet potatoes test with fewer pesticides, giving a safer alternative.
Hot Peppers: Unfortunately the hot pepper joins the sweet pepper on the list of foods with the most pesticide residue.
This list is eye opening to me. Just typing out this article, has etched these fruits and vegetables in my brain. The health risks associated with pesticides are too great. I will buy them all organic. It is so scary that our food system is so contaminated! Finding a good source of safe food is crucial. Organic farmer’s markets, local stores that feature organic produce are key. I look forward to spring and the start of a garden of my own, that I know will be pesticide free. Taking the issue into my own hands! Happy gardening to those who enjoy as I do!
Consumer Report created a tool that shows “the risk of pesticide exposure from eating 48 fresh conventional fruits and vegetables from 14 different countries. Analyzing 12 years of data from the Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, Consumer Reports’ scientists, in consultation with Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., of Washington State University, placed each produce-country combination into one of five risk categories. Risk assessment included the number of pesticide residues on each food, the frequency with which they were found, and the toxicity of the pesticides. The risk categories correlate with the number of daily servings of that fruit or vegetable.
Consumer Report also took into account the typical serving size of the food and the weight of the person eating that food. Their analysis is based on the risk to a 3½-year-old child, estimated to weigh 35.2 pounds, because children are especially vulnerable to the dietary risks from pesticides and the EPA is required to consider the effects of pesticides on children. The risks to adults would be lower.
By law, supermarkets are required to tell consumers where the fruits and vegetables they’re buying were grown. It’s usually not difficult to find the country of origin, but that information is not always in the same place. You can locate the country of origin on the fruit stickers, on the packaging of certain fruits or vegetables bagged apples or containers of mushrooms, for instance), signs posted near the produce or the box the produce was shipped in.”
Here is a summary of Consumer Report’s findings on which country’s produce tested at low risk for pesticides. This list shows which country’s you should look for on the stickers or labels of produce. They tested lowest for pesticides:
Apples: New Zealand
Applesauce: Canada, U.S.
Asparagus: Mexico, U.S.
Avocados: Chili, Mexico, Peru
Bananas: Columbia, Costs Rica, Equador, Guatemala, Honduraas, Mexico
Blueberries: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, U.S.
Broccoli: Mexico. U.S.
Cabbage: Canada, Mexico, U.S.
Cantaloupe: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Carrots: Look for Organic
Cauliflower: Mexico, U.S.
Cherry tomatoes: U.S.
Cilantro: Mexico, U.S.
Collard Greens: U.S.
Corn: Mexico, U.S.
Cranberries: Look for Organic
Eggplant: Honduras, U.S.
Grapes: Chile, Mexico, Peru, U.S.
Green Beans: Look for Organic
Green Onions: Mexico, U.S.
Hot Peppers: Look for Organic
Lettuce: Mexico, U.S.
Mangoes: Guatemala, Mexico
Mushrooms: Canada, U.S.
Nectarines: Look for Organic
Onions: Peru, U.S.
Oranges: Chile, South Africa, U.S.
Papayas: Belize, Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, U.S.
Peaches: Look for Organic
Canned Peaches: Greece, South Africa, U.S.
Pears, Argentina, U.S.
Pineapple: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, U.S.
Raspberries: Mexico, U.S.
Snap Peas: Mexico, U.S
Spinach: Mexico, U.S.
Strawberries: Look for Organic
Summer Squash: Mexico
Sweet Bell Peppers: Look for Organic
Sweet Potatoes: Look For Organic
Tangerines: Look For Organic
Watermelon: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S.
Winter Squash: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico