nutrition

Keep Up

Keep up and you will be kept up - Yogi Bhajan

When I was first going through yoga training I never fully understood this quote. It seemed so arbitrary to me - keep up with what? who will keep me up?

It wasn't until I was fully immersed in my career as a chiropractor and nutritionist that I finally had a light bulb moment: maintenance now = prevention later.*

When we're young, we tend to think we're invincible and can do whatever we want to our bodies and they will continue to move and breathe and feel ok. Unfortunately this is not the case.  When we're feeling good we tend to take movement and breath for granted. We forget about maintaining our health and our joints. That is why maintenance is so incredibly important. Take care of yourself now and you prevent serious health issues down the road. (Plus, you get the added benefit of actually feeling good now. )

It can be a difficult concept to grasp, but keeping your nervous system healthy through a proper diet, regular chiropractic adjustments, and daily movement is worth so much more than the initial cost or effort that you perceive it to be now. Yes, things like getting adjusted, getting dental checkups, spending a little more for quality foods, or paying for that studio/gym/personal trainer may seem like big expenses now, but in the end the savings are innumerable. Plus - I'll say it again - YOU GET TO FEEL GOOD. How awesome is that??

*I know there are more spiritual interpretations of this famous quote. 

 

anti-nutrients: what you need to know about phytic acid

You may have heard the recent news about nuts - that they're actually lower in calories than originally thought! In a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, almonds were found to contain 129 calories per 28 gram serving as opposed to the current calorie value of 170. Now that healthy nuts like almonds are lower in calories, some of my patients have been asking if they can incorporate more into their diet. As a recovering peanut butter addict, I wish I could in good conscience tell them yes, but I cannot. I found I've been explaining frequently to patients that while nuts (and some grains and legumes) are healthy in moderation, they contain a compound called phytic acid that causes issues when consumed in excess. Allow me to tell you about this sneaky little antinutrient. 

Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorous that plants use to grow once they sprout. It is found in the hull of grains, nuts, and seeds. While ruminant animals (cows, sheep, goats) can digest phytic acid, humans cannot. This is significant for two reasons:

once the seed sprouts, phytic acid is degraded to phosphorous which the plant uses to grow.

once the seed sprouts, phytic acid is degraded to phosphorous which the plant uses to grow.

1) because it is not digested, phytic acid binds to minerals (especially iron, zinc, and calcium) and prevents us from absorbing them. Over time this can lead to deficiencies in these minerals, causing serious health conditions. 

2) It interferes with enzymes that help us digest our food including pepsin and trypsin (required to breakdown protein in the stomach and small intestine, respectively) and amylase (required to break down starch). When your food does not get digested properly, it backs up into your intestines and causes all sorts of havoc on your organs and lymphatic system.

Now that I've caused you to be thoroughly terrified of phytic acid, let me tell you that the average human can tolerate low levels of phytic acid (400-800mg a day), and that by sprouting your grains and legumes you can reduce the phytic acid level by up to 50 percent. Soaking and roasting nuts will also significantly reduce the amount of phytic acid. 

I do really like phytic acid's chemical structure though. so pretty. 

I do really like phytic acid's chemical structure though. so pretty. 

Bottom line: even though nuts may have fewer calories that previously thought, it is a good idea to stick to one to two 1 oz servings a day due to the phytic acid content (as well as high levels of omega 6 fatty acids... we'll save that for another discussion). It is especially important for people with iron deficiency anemia, vegans, and vegetarians to watch their levels of phytic acid intake and consider sprouting or soaking beans, grains, and legumes prior to consumption.

National Nutrition Month

You may have heard that March is National Nutrition Month. This year's slogan is "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right". To kick it off, here is a healthy recipe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to get you started on your nutritional journey this month! Each recipe contains a main "superfood" and what I call "supporting foods" (They haven't gotten their super powers yet, but are still very important).

Stay tuned on the blog this month for more healthy eating advice.

Anything you want to know about specifically? Leave your questions in the comments or email your questions to drmirandawall@gmail.com

BREAKFAST: POWER GREEN SMOOTHIE

A great way to start your day is with this nutrient-dense smoothie.

Superfood: Kale

Kale is high in fiber, iron, vitamin A, C, and K, and calcium and packed with powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids that help protect against various cancers.

Supporting foods: Chia seeds provide anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, coconut oil provides satiating medium-chain fatty acids, and the almond butter provides a good combination of protein and fat for sustained energy.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups kale, packed
1 cup almond or rice milk
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2  banana

Directions: Super simple: blend in blender until smooth and drink immediately.(note: if you don't have a high-power blender, remove the stems from the kale to avoid stringy texture)

LUNCH: QUINOA SALAD WITH CILANTRO AND PEPPERS

This is a great recipe to make a day or two ahead of time and pack it for work or school the next day. Enjoy with a side of apple or berries for extra nutrients and fiber.

Superfood: Quinoa

Quinoa is loaded withprotein, fiber, and minerals, but doesn't contain any gluten. It also contains all of the essential amino acids and some B vitamins, making it a perfect meat alternative.

Supporting foods: Peppers are a good source of potassium and vitamin C, cilantro is an excellent source of antioxidants, and cumin aids in digestion and helps stabilize blood sugar.

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa (rinsed and dried on a towel if not pre-rinsed)
1½ cups water

1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

1/2 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced (for spicier salad leave in the seeds. If you don't tolerate spicy, leave out the peppers altogether)
 

2 Tbsp minced red onion
 

1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Directions:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, toast the quinoa. Stir it often, until it's lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until quinoa has absorbed most of the water and is nearly tender, about 12 minutes. In a rimmed baking sheet, spread the quinoa out and set aside until tender and cool, about 20 minutes.

When cooled, transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Stir in the bell pepper, jalapeno, onion and cilantro.  In a separate bowl, whisk the lime juice, oil, mustard, garlic and cumin, then pour it over the quinoa tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Prepared salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days; season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste before serving.

DINNER: SWEET POTATO AND GREEN BEAN SALAD

Superfood: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are relatively low in calories, high in fiber, and provide tons of vitamin A to boost eye health and support a healthy immune system. Plus they're a great source of manganese and potassium (and they're delicious).

Supporting foods: Green beans are great sources of folates as well as fiber, vitamin K, C, and A. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and copper.

Ingredients:

·         4 sweet potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced

·         1 tsp cinnamon

·         2 Tbsp olive oil

·         1 tsp sea salt

·         1 tsp thyme

·         8 oz fresh green beans

·         large handful dried cranberries

·         large handful toasted walnuts

·         5 oz (about one bag) baby lettuces or spring mix

·         Maple Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450F. Toss sweet potatoes with cinnamon, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt and thyme. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and just beginning to brown. Set aside to cool slightly.

While potatoes are roasting, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Add green beans and cook briefly, 1-2 minutes or until beans are bright green. Remove and immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking and set color. Cut beans in half lengthwise if desired. (Now’s a good time to make the dressing, too.)

Combine greens, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries and walnuts in a large serving bowl. Toss with dressing to taste.

Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette:

·         1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

·         1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

·         2 Tbsp maple syrup

·         1 Tbsp spicy mustard

·         1 tsp sea salt

·         freshly ground black pepper

Combine vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and salt/pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Adjust for seasoning. (Alternatively, shake ingredients together in a jar.) Store for up a week in the fridge.

 

 

Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally: Through Nutrition and Movement

Many different things contribute to high blood pressure including poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor stress management. The good news is that you can reduce your blood pressure naturally through lifestyle changes.

To understand some of the workings behind things that contribute to high blood pressure, I want to discuss two filtration systems in your body. First, the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is one of the waste disposal systems in your body and it also helps fight infection and carries dietary fats. Your lymph system cannot circulate on its own, but relies on your movement and muscle contractions. When your lymph system gets backed up from lack of movement, too much fat in the diet, or even regularly eating high fat meals before sleeping, the pressure in the lymph system increases. This stagnation can cause the blood pressure to increase. When this happens over a period of time, joints in the spine become fixated. You will notice that you will feel stiff and maybe a little achy. Chiropractic adjustments help to restore motion to fixated segments and help get stagnant lymph moving again.

The other filtration system in play here is in the kidneys. When blood flow to the kidneys is decreased for whatever reason (atherosclerosis or plaquing of the arteries for example), your kidneys assume that it is due to dehydration. They respond by producing hormones that cause the body to retain sodium and water, which ends up increasing blood volume and therefore blood pressure even more.

So to put it very simplistically, one of the things that contributes to high blood pressure is a back up of your body's cleaning and elimination systems. How do we fix this? Through movement!

Ideally it will be movement through exercise (both cardiovascular and strength and flexibility training). as well as movement through chiropractic adjustments. You will also need to get things moving on the inside so that your digestive, renal, and lymph systems start moving properly so your body can filter and heal. Another benefit of physical exercise besides strengthening your heart and moving lymph is stress relief.

Emotional and mental stress can also raise your blood pressure by elevating hormones that cause your blood vessels to constrict and your heart to beat faster unnecessarily. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress. Yoga is especially helpful because you practice mindfulness and breathing techniques while moving, so you get the best of both forms of pressure reduction. You can also practice mindful breathing techniques to lower stress throughout your day. Simply counting your inhales and exhales and keeping them the same length can bring you out of your head and into your body, reducing stress and balancing the nervous system.

And finally, nutrition. You will want to eliminate or at the very least reduce added sugars. Unnatural sugars like high fructose corn syrup and the sugars in processed foods have been shown to raise blood pressure even more than salt. Plus, these added sugars are inflammatory, and inflammation increases blood pressure systemically. You will also want to eliminate other inflammatory foods like hydrogenated oils and processed foods.

Instead, consume foods high in potassium, which balances the body's sodium levels, Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, and magnesium, which helps relax blood vessel walls. So the bottom line is, eat more fruits and vegetables. Some good suggestions that include these vitamins and minerals are avocados, chia seeds, figs, and berries.

Finally, let's talk about moderation. If your system is extremely toxic and congested, you can't start with moderation and expect to see a great deal of improvement. You have to go to the other end of the spectrum, almost like a detox, and get cleaned up first. Once you get to a healthy baseline, then you can enjoy moderation. At our office, we may help this process along by recommending supplements to help clean and detoxify your system in addition to specific dietary changes to get you feeling better and healthier.

Should You See a Nutritionist?

The amount of nutritional information available on the news and web can be overwhelming and often the information is conflicting, Every day there is a new diet or superfood making,  it difficult to know what foods and diets are best. Should I cut carbs? what should I eat before exercise? Do I need supplements? are some common questions people have. Seeing a nutritionist is arguably one of the best things you can do to prevent disease and feel better overall, and we will clear up all of the confusing dietary advice you may have gotten in the past. Here are some reasons you may want to schedule a visit with a nutritionist at TCA.

  • You are suffering from information overload:  

We will help find the best foods for your body so you can ditch the fad diets and eat healthy for life. We will help you solve the problem of information overload, so you don't have to use the potentially detrimental method trial and error to see what diets, foods, or supplements work best for your body.

  • You have a health or fitness goal you are working toward:

A nutritionist will work with you to help you meet your health and fitness goals and keep you accountable for what you're eating. We will likely recommend weekly check-ins in the beginning to get you started on the right path and make sure your new meal plan is working for you. If you have a fitness goal like running a marathon or you just want to tone up, we will help you achieve those goals with a meal plan that is right for you.

  • You have a pre-existing health condition that you want to manage (maybe even get off medication)

Prevention is always the best medicine, but if you have pre-existing health conditions such as high cholesterol, acid reflux, or diabetes for example, we can help you manage and potentially resolve these issues.

  • You don't know if you need supplements

We will always try to get you to obtain your nutrients through real foods, but we may recommend supplements - even temporarily - based on your current health situation. We carry only top-of-the-line supplements that can only be purchased through a healthcare provider. Most of the vitamins and supplements available at the drug store are not in a bioavailable form, meaning your body can't absorb them well. Additionally, when you take just one mineral or vitamin, it can throw off the balance of other checks and balances in your body as it attempts to maintain homeostasis. Our supplements are in the form of whole foods and not isolates of chemicals, so your body can absorb them.

  • You have run out of healthy recipes or meal ideas

When we develop a meal plan for you, we take into consideration foods you like and dislike, and come up with meal plans and recipes that fit your nutritional needs as well as your lifestyle needs. Whether you love to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals or need quick and healthy dinner ideas - we tailor the plan to your lifestyle making it easy to follow as well as delicious.

  • You are tired of being tired

The foods you eat fuel your body. When you eat the wrong things at the wrong times, you develop a buildup of toxins and your GI system becomes sluggish, causing fatigue.

We will teach you how to eat for life, so you can feel and look your best and stay healthy. Your diet is the key to preventing health issues down the road like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity just to name a few. If you are ready to take control of your health, its time to make an appointment!

 

Mela's Smoothie

There's no better way to beat winter blues and stave off illness than through good nutrition. Mela, our office manager, shared one of her favorite smoothie recipes with us. It is balanced with healthy fats, vitamins and nutrients to keep you energized and feeling good. Enjoy it for breakfast or after a workout!

Mela's Smoothie: (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 Avocado
  • 3 TBSP chia seeds, soaked for ~15 minutes
  • 2 cups spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 banana

Blend and enjoy!