Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Timing of Meals (Part 1)

Humans are predators. Due to this we should follow some dietary guidelines that are in tune with that theory. With years of supermarkets and easily accessed food we have forgotten our place in the food chain. This has led to a culture of grazers and scavenging. Our health has deteriorated because of this. The predator stalks it’s prey while it is hungry. They carefully choose the prey which will sustain themselves the best, even if that prey is the hardest to catch. When it is full, they stop eating. This is evident on film when we watch the lion hunting the antelope. As soon as they get a kill everyone stops since there is no longer any danger. They kill what they want to fill themselves up and then they stop eating and are no longer a threat. The lion does not graze. It finds high quality food, eats it and then moves on with other pursuits until it is once again hungry. Generally one major meal per day (eating until you are full, and continuing with more food if you become hungry after a few minutes of eating) while under eating throughout the rest of the day. For us we would eat a major meal (upwards of an entire days worth of food) at night and throughout the day fresh raw fruits/vegetables, fresh juices, smoothie, small easily digestible protein (especially after a workout) and tea, coffee and lots of water. Preferably as small amount throughout the day to help keep the hunger pangs away. We as humans must get in touch with this instinct for two reasons. Insulin regulation and detoxification.

Insulin Regulation: (Through proper food choices and timing of meals)

By Extending the amount of time between meals you will force your body to work more effectively. You will force your body to regulate blood sugar and it will allow you access to your fat stores because these are only available when your insulin levels are low.

“When you fast, insulin drops and the hormone glucagon increases, to ensure a steady supply of energy to the body. When glucagon dominates, most of the body’s energy is derived from glycogen reserves and fat stores. Also, the drop in insulin allows the growth hormone (GH) to peak. Elevation of GH increases the body’s capacity to rejuvenate, repair tissues, and burn fat.”

-From “The Warrior Diet” by Ori Hofmekler

Furthermore by choosing your diet wisely you will be choosing foods that are more nutritious, whole and have a lower glycemic load. This will allow you to take in more nutrients per calorie and also allow you to keep your insulin levels low. Through fat and protein intake you will have sustained energy throughout the day. If you are particularly active (such as 12 hour shifts as a paramedic) or have worked out then you should have easily digested protein and a small amount of carbs either throughout your workday or directly after your workout and then a small amount of carbs and more protein approx. an hour after your workout as well. I typically make a smoothie after a workout (raw eggs, leafy greens, chia seeds, flax seed always and then a mixture of fruits and vegetables that I have on hand plus protein powder) and then some sausage and greens an hour later. For my 12 hour shifts I make a large salad with meat (chicken or steak usually). Throughout the day you may eat raw green vegetables or fruits and freshly made juices or smoothies. A handful of nuts make a great snack. I typically make a smoothie on my non workout days without the protein or eggs and I’ll eat a fruit that is hanging around the house as well.

It is imperative to understand that insulin regulation is key, and that generally the culprits of increased blood sugar are refined carbohydrates and starchy vegetables. While vegetables are great sources of carbohydrates you should always eat them whole in order to receive the proper benefits of them. Often times people speak of removing carbs and they are typically referring to removing refined carbohydrates.

Gary Taubes states this from his book “Why We Get Fat.”

“In other words, the science itself makes clear that hormones, enzymes, and growth factors regulate our fat tissue, just as they do everything else in the human body, and that we do not get fat because we overeat; we get fat because the carbohydrates in our diet make us fat. The science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one – specifically, the stimulation of insulin secretion caused by eating easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich foods: refined carbohydrates, including flour and cereal grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup. These carbohydrates literally make us fat, and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier and they make us sedentary.”

It is clear that fat and protein should be a high portion of your diet and that easily digestable carbohydrates should be removed completely or eaten at a minimum. I always suggest eating high quality meats (grassfed, naturally raised), and organically raised vegetables that are in season. If you would like chocolate or sweets you may have some, just ensure that it is natural and in moderation. My belief is that if you make a conscious effort to eat well and are always trying to improve on your habits then you will be healthier than you have been. Also, my goal is to typically eat as well as I can and exercise between monday morning and friday afternoon. Then if something comes up on the weekend that I want to eat or do then I do not feel any guilt about it at all.

This information has been gleaned from my own personal reflections, my natural chef course, and the following books specifically. “The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler and “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. I would highly suggest reading both if you would like further information.

The second part is Detoxification and we will get into that next week.

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Sweeteners

Sweeteners are a common part of our society these days, however, you should reduce your sweetener consumption as much as possible. If you choose to use sweeteners you should always choose the best and highest quality sweetener that you can because of the health effects that they have on us. You should try to choose the most natural and nutrient dense sweeteners as possible. You should give yourself a break though when you want to make that great icing with loads of white sugar from time to time though.
Sweeteners have had a devastating effect on our societies health over the past hundred years. The amount of simple sugar in our diet has increased dramatically over the years. In the 1800’s our diet had approx. 12 pounds of sugar/person/year. Then in 1915 it had increased to 95 pounds and in 1990 it had increased all of the way up to 130 – 140 pounds/person/year. This has lead to problems with our blood sugar, our weight, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
So what is sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate and it is the fastest source for energy. There are two kinds of carbohydrates though, one is a simple carbohydrate, the other is a complex carbohydrate. It is the simple carbohydrates that are affecting us the most. You find simple carbohydrates in white sugars and honey, while you’ll find complex carbohydrates in vegetables, grains, beans and peas and other natural sources. When grains are processed and refined they are reduced so much that they are essentially simple carbohydrates to the body. Due to this the American diet consists of 50% simple carbohydrates. In previous diets simple sugar was only a fraction of the entire diet while the rest of it consisted of complex carbohydrates.
When you look on the labels to see what you are eating you wont see just sugar. You’ll see the more technical names for it. There are three types of simple sugars (monosaccharide). They are dextrose, fructose (from fruit, processed in liver) and glucose (main source of energy, processed in Pancreas). Complex sugars (disaccharide) are multiple simple sugars combined.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a danger to us because it is not a natural substance. HFCS is fructose and glucose combined but not bound. Therefore the body doesn’t understand what to do with it. In a natural food they would be bound together and the body would be able to process it easier. Fructose raises blood pressure, increases inflammation, raises blood sugar and turns off the “stop eating” mechanism. HFCS is found in a tremendous amount of food like products these days.
You will also see sugar alcohol xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and erythritol listed on the labels. There are cool and refreshing on your tongue. They say that these will not spike your blood sugar. They do however have a laxative effect and are not as sweet as sucrose. A good one would be Lacanato. It is a fermented sugar product from Body Ecology. This is from the plant lo han kuo.
Some artificial sugars to look out for are Splenda (chemically related to DDT), Equal, Nutrisweet, sweet and low, aspartame (causes brain cancer in rats), saccharin and sucralose (chlorinated manmade product). I would avoid all artificial sugars.
The next step would be processed sugars such as white sugar and brown sugar. White sugar is very highly processed and should not be consumed on a regular basis. Brown sugar is often thought of as being more natural but typically it is also highly processed and then artificially colored. Agave is an unregulated sugar from Mexico that is highly processed (80% fructose), but has more fructose than HFCS which is a good thing. It is made from starches and has a low glycemic index. Unfortunately it is not nutrient dense. If you are going to purchase this you should purchase raw blue agave. Turbinado sugar is from sugar cane. It is processed but has some of the actual molasses left in it.
Natural sugars are exactly that. Natural and the best for you. They will retain the most amount of other nutrients and the body will be able to process them correctly. Some of them are honey, maple syrup, cocunut sap, maple crystals, stevia (300% as sweet as sugar with little effect on blood sugar), black strap molasses and fruit purees. Sucanat is a natural sugar that is not very processed. It is evaporated/dehydrated sugar cane and maintains a lot of the nutrients in it. It will also turn everything brown which a lot of people are not used to these days.
So what are the dangers of sugars? They are numerous. Refined sugars have all of the nutrients stripped away and this causes an increase in weight. Insulin regulates your blood sugar and helps to turn it into glucose for energy or into fat for storage. This is why you don’t lose weight on a low fat diet. When they produce “low fat” foods they increase the sugar content which then is turned into fat in your body by the insulin. With the constant assault on your body of this sugar you are also overworking your pancreas. This leads to problems with the effectiveness of the insulin and the actual production of insulin in the body. The insulin receptors will actually stop responding to the insulin. This then leads to diabetes. One way to keep an eye on this type of stuff is through the glycemic index and the glycemic load. The glycemic index is a standard that shows how quickly a food turns into blood sugar in the body. The glycemic load takes that a step further by taking into account the amount of food most people actually eat. Therefore the glycemic load is a better indicator. It is important to eat foods with a low glycemic index and load.
Sweeteners will also decrease your immunity for 6 hours with just 1 Tbsp by impairing the germ killing ability of white blood cells, interfering with Vitamin C transportation and neutralizing usefullness of essential fatty acids. While the body requires sugar in the blood stream you DO NOT need to supplement it. A normally healthy body is easily capable of working properly on the amount of sugars found in a healthy diet.
An increase in sugar has also been shown to lead to cardiovascular disease. Insulin regulates your triglycerides, you will have a decrease in the LDL cholesterol (good), you will have an increase in obesity and high blood pressure as well which are all risk factors for heart disease.
There is a lot of debate about the role of sweeteners and sugar in cancer. However it looks as though tumors love sugar. They typically grow when there is excess sugar and tend to stop growing when sugar is removed from the diet. There are several books and lots of research on these topics.
Some other options are as follows
Brown rice syrup – 20% – 30% as sweet as sugar. Brown rice and grain combined. 50% complex carbohydrate, 45% maltose, 5% glucose. Is gluten free. You should be careful if using this with a diabetic.
Dates (or other fruit puree) – These are good because you maintain the entire edible portion of the fruit. You can soak or cook them then puree them. At this time you can use the puree to replace the sugar as an ingredient. Sugar is considered a wet ingredient in baking.
Yacon – hardly used, is a plant. Use slices of the plant of as a syrup. You can also pulverize the slices into a powder. It has a molasses/caramel flavor and is a better choice for diabetics. It is however hardly used.
Barley malt – fermented malt, not good for gluten free individuals, metabolizes slowly, has a strong flavor and is used in bread baking.
Rapiduro – Brand name for a dried sugar cane juice. Not good for diabetics
Tips for replacing sugar
– Must know the sweetness of your products and then add slowly
– Sometimes you have to change liquid for dry and adjust accordingly
Tips for curbing sugar cravings
– Eat fruit by itself
– Do not eat concentrated sweeteners for breakfast
– Eat more mineral rich foods
– Add more naturally sweet foods into your diet (sweet potatoes, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamon)
– Eat meals at a regular interval
– Eat more alkalizing foods
– Eat protein
– Eat ginger before meals
– Reduce and get rid of simple sugars and processed foods
– Eat high quality fats

Dairy

Dairy has been in our diet for around approx. 9000 years. Historically though, it is not a typical part of our diet and we are the only mammals that continue it’s use after our mothers milk. We typically consume cow and goat dairy. Unfortunately there is a significant portion of the population that has issues with the glucose/lactose that is in the product. These individuals are lactose intolerant which means that they do not have the enzyme to digest milk. Most asian cultures do not have this enzyme and 30%-40% of the worlds population do not have this enzyme. Babies produce this enzyme, but it is supposed to decrease naturally as they grow. This often causes inflammation in the body.
Dairy is 87% water, with milk solids being the rest of it. The solids contain fats, proteins (whey casein) and carbohydrates. It is seen as a good source of vitamins, fatty acids (shorter chain when it is from naturally fed animals). The quality of the dairy is directly related to the quality of the animals that produced it. The more natural the better.
We must remember that dairy is a hormone delivery system. So when we drink our mothers milk it is the perfect food for us. However we are not cows or goats, so the hormone delivery system for them is certainly not tweaked for us humans. That’s bad enough, but then we add hormones to the animals (RBST/HGH) which then is transferred to us. If you are going to use dairy, I would only drink natural/organic dairy.
Dairy production
During the production process dairy goes through a lot of changes. One of the main things that happens is pasteurization. This is heating the product up in order to sterilize it, unfortunately this also kills all of the enzymes and vitamins in the product. Also the protein structure is damaged and changed which makes it less digestable. After all of this the milk requires chemicals to be placed back into it in order to make it more palatable. Vitamin D is also added back in because it was ruined in the pasteurization process. The Vitamin D that is added in is synthetically made though and is hard for the body to absorb.
After all of this the milk is homogenized because we do not like our milk separating on our shelves (which is natural). This means that it is spun and then pumped through a fine filter at a high pressure. Therefore the fat and protein are mashed together so that they wont separate. This however makes the solids so small that when you digest them they go through the digestive walls and leak out into your blood system. When this happens the body thinks that it is an invader and the body must activate it’s immune response system. There is a histamine release resulting in sinus issues (congestion/pressure). Some believe that arthritis could be caused by this and the inflammation caused by this could be the cause of multiple chronic diseases.
Misc study findings
Fermented milk such as yogurt has good bacteria in it which might improve digestion and decrease cholesterol. It also has lots of sugar in it. There have been studies that have shown a link between cancer and heart disease and dairy (nurses study, US physicians study, china study).
When balancing your diet you can look at alkaline/acidic foods. Animal foods in general are acidic, vegetable foods are alkaline. The body is supposed to be more alkaline and when the body is acidic it leaches the calcium out of the bones. There is a link between increased dairy consumption and osteoporosis due to this and also because calcium is not the key to preventing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is an issue not only of bone strength, but also of bone flexibility. Too much calcium and too little collagen will actually make the bones brittle and more vulnerable.
So if you’re not going to get your calcium from milk, just where are you going to get it from? Well, here’s a list for you:
Leafy greens, fish (salmon in particular), Sea Vegetables, Beans, Legumes, Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, Nuts/Seeds (walnuts), stock
When you are making a bone stock you can put a small amount of vinegar into the water. This will help pull the minerals out of the bones.
High acidic food, animal products, salt, caffeine, smoking, refined sugar, pharmaceuticals, Vitamin A and uncooked Spinach has been said to decrease calcium in your body.

Nuts, seeds, oils

Nuts, seeds and oils are a great source for minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fatty acids. Nuts and seeds are the building blocks of their respective plants. Everything that plant needs is contained in the nut or seed. This is why they are so powerful for us. They do however also have antinutrients. In order to protect themselves from predators while awaiting their growth, seeds have a barrier around them. This causes a bitter taste and might actually leach nutrients from your body if you eat them. Therefore you should always soak your nuts and seeds for 12 hours before eating them. This allows the protective barrier to break down. All you have to do is place them in water. Also, they should be kept in an environment that is away from heat, light and oxygen. These three things will cause the quality fats to break down.
You must also always be aware of allergies to nuts. Fungus might grow on them while in storage as well.

Now that we have a basic understanding of fats, we must discuss cooking oils. There are an incredible amount of oils on the shelves at the store. A quick list includes:
Vegetable, soy, cocunut, olive oil, sesame, canola/rapeseed, avocado, nut oils (walnut, macadamia, almond), butter, ghee (clarified butter), corn oil, safflower, sunflower, flax seed, peanut oil and grapeseed oil. So which do you use and when? Here are a few
Grapeseed oil – This oil has no flavor, is greenish in color and has a high smoke point which makes it ideal high heat applications such as stir-frying, deep frying and roasting vegetables.
Canola/Rapeseed oil – This oil is from Canada. Given that name instead of rapeseed for obvious reasons. This oil was historically highly laden with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) however you are now able to find it unrefined and organic. It is a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and is also good for higher heat such as stir-frying and deep frying. It can also be used in baking. It is mostly a monounsaturated fat. It is processed at a high heat which can reduce the health benefits of the product.
Olive oil – Olive oil is a monounsaturated oil. Everyone typically sees it as a healthy oil. There are two main kinds of Olive Oil: extra virgin and olive oil. Extra virgin is good in situations where you are using lower heat to cook or not cooking at all (light sauteing, salad dressings), and olive oil would be used in medium heat applications. Olive oil should be green in color and should have a taste. The oils you use should be an ingredient in your foods.
Cooking Temps for oils
Higher Temps (375 F and up) – Ghee, cocunut, butter, avocado, grapeseed (medium-high heat sauteeing), canola oil (medium-high), macademia (medium-high),
Medium Temps (325 F) – Nut oils, canola, sesame, olive oil, corn, safflower, sunflower, soy
Low Temps (212 F) – all of the above
No heat – toasted sesame oil, flax seed (keep this in the refridgerator)
Labeling
Labeling is very important with oils. Due to the fact that oils are fats and that light, oxygen and heat are enemies of fats which will cause them to go rancid it is very important to look at the labeling on the packages. Labels include things such as unrefined , cold pressed/expeller press , chemical extraction and refined. Unrefined and cold pressed are very good. It means that there has not been any sort of chemical process done to the oil. Cold press/expeller press ensures that the temperatures have been kept at a minimum allowing the highest quality oil with the lease amount of rancidity due to heat. Chemical extraction could potentially have hexanes from the extraction process in it and refined oils have some of the nutritious benefits removed from them. However refined oils will be able to be used in higher heat cooking applications.

Update: this is a great article a out cooking oils and cholesterol. At the least it explains why one MUST use the proper oil for the proper heat.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/05/dr-mercola-interviews-dr-robert-rowen-part-2-cholesterol.aspx?e_cid=20120505_DNL_art_1

Sea Vegetables

Sea Vegetables (SV) can be a very useful and beneficial addition to your diet. SV are very high in trace minerals and can lead to weight loss by chelation (pulling the toxins out of your body). Our modern agricultural practices have led to a decrease in the nutrient density of our crops due to a degradation of our soil. SV maintain a much higher nutrient density (up to 30 times more minerals and vitamins) because we have not begun to degrade the nutrient density of the ocean. Due to this it does not take a lot of one SV in order to get a significant amount of the benefits. SV can be added to stocks, soup or beans to increase the nutrient value (Kombu/Kelp, 2″ strip, can be used twice) and agar can be used as a gellatin in vegan cooking. If you grow your own vegetables you can add SV to your soil in order to improve the nutrient quality of the soil. SV can typically be found at your local asian grocery store or macrobiotics section and online. Look for the following SV in your grocery store or online (Maine Coast, Eden Organics, Emerald Cove).
Kombu/Kelp – Kombu is from the Pacific Ocean, Kelp is from the Atlantic Ocean. Also high in Iodine
Dulse
Nori
Arame
Wakame – This is an easy SV to get used to
Hijiki – Strong flavor
Irish Moss – Used in raw food diets a lot
Agar – Can be used instead of gellatin