Emily Heil CPT, BS Health Promotion and Wellness
I used to just dismiss vitamins and minerals. I was one of those people who thought you just needed to exercise, eat right, and have your mind right. Now those may be all good things, but we don’t think a lot about the other things that we need as well such as our micro-nutrients.
When people think about food, we usually think of the breakdown of carbs, fats, and proteins. And although those are a big part of what food is, food is more than just that. It contains so many more vital things that your body needs.
Now believe me when I say I used to just glance at a food and say, “oh yeah, that has 25% of my daily value of (insert vitamin or mineral here), so that’s good!” But I never really used to make sure I was getting enough of it. More recently I have learned that when you give your body the micro-nutrients that it needs, it can not only help you increase positive things happening physiologically, but it can also help you to OPTIMIZE your life.
Let’s take magnesium for example. 80% of people around the world are deficient in magnesium. Did you know that? I was experiencing some neurological issues, so I wanted to see what I could eat or supplement with that would help me. – And it just so happened to turn out I was one of the 80% deficient in Magnesium (go figure). I thought I was doing everything right! So I started taking a magnesium supplement. Do you know what happened? I became focused. I lost my brain fog and a whole host of other things happened to me. But Magnesium isn’t just for brain health.
It helps as an antioxidant and combats against oxidative stress ( this is any type of stress you put on your body) anything from working out, to things that you eat that your body doesn’t like, to stressors that are in your everyday life. And when you get rid of that oxidative stress your body can work more like a well-oiled machine and less like a rusty 1920’s car that hasn’t been taken care of.
Magnesium helps to boost immunity and defend against cancer. Now if you don’t think that you want to boost your immunity that sounds crazy to me, but to each their own. Doing that right now is such a vital thing for your body (along with taking your vitamin D, but you know that).
This special micro-nutrient helps you also to improve thyroid function and increase fertility (yes, in both men and women). Your thyroid helps your body with a whole laundry list of things from your metabolism to your heart beat, your temperature, and just basic things that are important. On the fertility topic, this is especially important if you are of child-baring years and want to eventually have a baby. Create the healthiest body you can for your child, promote a strong and healthy microbiome by introducing all of the right nutrients.
These are only a few things that magnesium helps with… and yeah, you can take it in a supplement form, which is great if that is what you want to do. But the BEST way to get nutrients is through food. It can be hard because of all of the pesticides that we use on our food nowadays, we don’t find it in the soil much, therefore the plants don’t “soak it up” per se. But If you are looking for the best way to get magnesium in foods, here are a list of foods that you can find it in.
Magnesium rich foods:
Spinach, edamame, potato with the skin, salmon, halibut, and okra just to name a few.
I understand if you look at this list and you are saying to yourself “what in the world is okra?” I dare you to try it. Find something new and try it! You might just like it. And if you don’t well then there are plenty of other sources of magnesium in other foods. Find different recipes and different ways to spice up your foods. Dry rubs and spices are my favorite!
So here is your call to action. Start paying attention to what goes in your body. I don’t mean just counting calories. Check your multivitamin and what sources these vitamins and minerals are coming from. We have an incredible multivitamin through Orthomolecular right in our office that you can ask us about any time. Get your nutrients in and watch yourself have more energy, feel happier, and enjoy life more. It is amazing how much different you can feel when your body is not being starved of the nutrients that it so badly needs. Check in with yourself and pay attention to what your body is saying. If you love your body right, it will love you back.
Everyone knows the saying, “sugar is bad for you”, but what are people really saying when they say that? Added sugars and refined sugars in your diet can do a lot of different things to your body, things that are not so good. This chemical substance is great at increasing inflammation, causing insulin spikes, adding excess calories, and so much more. Even with all these negative attributes, we still LOVE it.
Let’s talk sugar. What is it? Where does it come from? Why do we love it?
The sugar association describes sugar as “…sucrose is simply the chemical name for sugar, the simple carbohydrate we know and love that is produced naturally in all plants, including fruits, vegetables, and even nuts”. Sounds healthy, right? So why is it so bad for us? The answer is, sugar is extracted, purified, filtered, and crystalized into raw sugar that is then further refined to what we know as granulated sugars. One problem with these refined types of sugars is that it has all of the fiber extracted from it. Fiber keeps your insulin in check and prevents your insulin levels from spiking which we’ll get to later.
A second problem is that when refined sugar enters your body, it acts like a drug. It triggers the release of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine surges are addictive and make your brain want to come back for more and more sugar. I’m sorry to break it to you, but the food industry is definitely using chemicals, such as sugar, to lure you in and get your money to enhance their own business growth.
Inflammation… Did you know that a lot of the pain or problems that you have *spoiler alert* CAN BE CONTROLLED OR MANAGED WITHOUT MEDICATION! (As a side note, we in the chiropractic industry are not legally able to tell you to use or not use a medication. You need to talk to a medical doctor to find out how to safely get off any drug.) Let me tell a bit of my story in this section. I had problems with my hands where they were going numb in my fingers, pain in the palms of my hands and the inability of them to function without braces. My doctor told me I had carpal tunnel at the ripe old age of 22. They told me it was a life long problem. I would never get rid of it; they told me to buy braces and stop lifting weights. If you know me, I am a personal trainer and that wasn’t going to cut it. I went on the Whole 30 diet, a phenomenal food elimination diet protocol. I found out that both dairy, and (wait for it) REFINED SUGARS were causing my carpal tunnel to flare up! Let me repeat this: sugar causes inflammation. Since then, dairy and sugars haven’t really been a part of my diet and most of the time I forget that I have carpal tunnel and my hands are back to normal. (Unless of course I am eating ice cream, but those are very special occasions. During those occasions, I choose to eat it and know the consequences, aka symptoms will appear, because of it.)
Now I told you we would talk insulin spikes. Like I said earlier, fiber is taken from the sugar source. When that happens, the release of that sugar into the blood stream is MUCH quicker. It takes about 20 seconds for sugar to enter your bloodstream. If fiber was still a part of the equation, the release of the sugar would be a lot longer of a time period and a more steady release. This would give you a constant stream of energy. Think about a natural form of sugar like an apple compared instead to the cheap candy bar that you ate yesterday. The apple will be filling longer and the candy bar gives you energy for 20 minutes and then you get that energy crash right after. Sound familiar?
Finally, let’s talk excess calories. Sugar is added to so many things to enhance flavor, but along with that addictive flavor comes calories. Did you know that sugary drinks or sugar sweetened beverages account for 39% of our diets. That includes: soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, which together account for 39% of the added sugar in our diets. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Which means weight gain and excess calories and no fiber, so here is another case of that “crash and burn” problem that you had at 2pm yesterday when you ate that candy bar. Want a simple fix for this? Try filling your water bottle and drinking it instead. Water is so important – it keeps you alert and helps rid the sugars from your body that increase those aches and pains.
It’s easy to love sugar, of course! It’s addictive, and it’s supposed to be. I’m not saying get rid of all of the sugar in your life, because that’s not realistic and your sanity will be non-existent. Just be aware of what you are eating and what you are taking in. Be smart. Go enjoy your life!
Here’s the story of an ingredient named MSG
A cooking rut. Have you ever been in one of those? You know, where you are uninspired to make anything, let alone something new, in the kitchen? I just got out of one. And I’m here today to tell you all about the recipe that has me fired up again. Want to know what the game changer was? You’ll never guess. A homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup. One to replace the red and white and gold Campbell’s version that rolls around in your cart. Why would you want to make that when it’s so easy to purchase, you ask? Well, let me tell you why this simple recipe is far superior to the one at your local grocery store.
Pre-made grocery items like a condensed soup have a lot of ingredients in them. Ever try to read labels? I have years (and years and years) of chemistry in my background, and I still struggle to pronounce the many ingredients. We’re talking fillers, stabilizers, preservatives and three nasty letters – M. S. G. And that right there, my friends, is why I choose the hard road to make my own food.
It might help make food taste better, but MSG is a scary ingredient. MSG is an excitotoxin. Long story short – it causes so much excitement in the neurons in your brain that it kills them. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to keep my brain cells. One mentor of mine has connected the dots and links MSG and aspartame (we’ll discuss fake sugars more some other time) to neurodegenerative disorders. These disorders include Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s and more. Serious business.
If MSG were only in a few, not so common products we eat, I wouldn’t be so concerned. The problem lies in how universally abundant it is. You probably remember the signs hung proudly at Chinese restaurants that state “our food contains no MSG”. They might be right. But they’re probably wrong. That’s because MSG has dozens of aliases. Here are a few:
-Glutamate -Monosodium Glutamate -Monopotassium Glutamate -Yeast extract -Hydrolyzed protein (any protein that is hydrolyzed) -Glutamic Acid -Calcium Caseinate -Sodium Caseinate -Gelatin -Textured Protein -Yeast Nutrient -Autolyzed Yeast -Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten
And even more these “often contain MSG or create MSG during processing”:
-Carrageenan -Natural Pork Flavor -Bouillon and Broth -Soy sauce extract -Maltodextrin -Citric Acid -Protease -Natural Flavor & Flavorings -even the vague word Seasonings and many, many more.
My homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup didn’t contain any ingredients like that. It might have been a bit tedious in terms of the number of steps, but it was really pretty simple and utilized my Vitamix (which always makes me happy). I used it to make a homemade green bean casserole for when my parents came over for dinner on Sunday. I made up the recipe for the GBC as I went, using the homemade soup, some sautéed shallots, fresh steamed green beans and a few other ingredients. It was the most complimented dish on the table. The whole pan was gone, nearly licked clean. The key to the recipe? The soup. No MSG or other questionable ingredients. No worries of health concerns, long term or short. Only pure, delicious, nutritious goodness in whole food form.
So now that I’m out of my cooking rut, it’s time to make another batch of condensed soup and use it to recreate some healthier versions of casseroles and whatnot that I had as a kid. First up: a tator tot casserole using grass fed beef, tons of added veggies and topped off with veggie tots. I’m excited.