Spice Up Your Life

It’s no secret that spices have wonderful flavor, adding much to our culinary palette. But did you know that spices have more to offer than taste, in fact in some cultures spices are highly valued for their medicinal benefits. With cold and flu season approaching it seems like a good time to explore spices for flavor and for health.

spices-market

Indian, Chinese and many Indigenous people use herbs and spices for various health needs. Turmeric (Curcuma Langa) for instance, is touted as a super food with multiple health benefits. A member of the ginger family, it is native to Asia and used in Pakistani and Indian recipes as a staple spice. Along with its delightful taste, turmeric is one of the highest sources for beta-carotene due to its curcumin content. Its also noted with containing strong antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory qualities and is known to strengthen the nervous system. There is a great deal of interest among cancer researchers as to turmeric’s ability to reduce cancer cells. This article is worth reading http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/turmeric. As with any health aid it is wise to note potential adverse reactions related to particular conditions. Turmeric can be taken as a tea, added to recipes or in capsule/tincture or oil form.

tumeric bulb

http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=49363;  http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03001/Three-Reasons-to-Eat-Turmeric.html; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78; http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

Cinnamon is a spice most of us are familiar with and use on a regular basis. There are actually two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon commonly used in the western world and cassis cinnamon from Southern China. Some studies have had positive outcomes showing cassis cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

cinnamon_fe

http://www.scottsdalefitnessandhealth.com/natural-remedies-for-blood-sugar-control.html; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20924865http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266069.php

Cumin originated in Egypt and is a spice not as widely known in western cooking as cinnamon, though it is widely used in Middle Eastern, Mexican and Indian cooking. Cumin’s health benefits are similar to cinnamon in reducing blood sugar and new research has it showing some promise as an anti-carcinogenic spice. It can be found in seed or ground spice form most often in cooking and in oils, tinctures and elixirs for medicinal purposes.

cumin-seed

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=91; http://www.livestrong.com/article/415653-ground-cumin-health-benefits/

Many of us have strong associations to the holidays when we smell cloves. Its strong fragrance reminds us of favorite baked goods, mulled cider or a baked ham. Some of us have clove extract to address tooth pain. Cloves are used in ground form most often in cooking/baking but are also used whole in drinks or to season meats.

oranges-cloves

I like to make orange, clove pomanders like these ones to hang on my Christmas tree.

Clove is most commonly used medicinally as an expectorant and so it is often found in teas and oils. It comes in gum form to address bad breath and to aid digestion. Cloves contain eugenol, a component that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory qualities as well as its ability to remove toxins from the body. Clove oil is used widely for its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic and aphrodisiac properties. Similar to cinnamon and cumin, clove also contains a good amount of nutrients such as iron, magnesium and calcium.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/251.html; http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=69

Cayenne pepper is another spice used widely in spicy cooking and can be found in in dishes from all over the world. Chili originated in Central and South America, but the cayenne pepper is named for the city of Cayenne, in French Guiana. Along with its spicy addition to a favorite dish it has many health benefits including inhibiting cancer cell growth, increasing blood flow, anti-inflammatory properties and is used in some cases for weight reduction.

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http://www.ecorazzi.com/2013/07/22/the-incredible-health-benefits-of-cayenne-pepper/;http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267248.php; http://one-vibration.com/group/selfhealth/forum/topics/cayenne-pepper-the-wonder-drug#.VF00zjYo4dU

Finally, ginger. I use fresh ginger daily in recipes and in tea. It is a wonderful digestive aid and adds spice to an array of dishes. It also is known as an anti-inflammatory food as a result of a compound (gingerols) which acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger is the object of a good deal of research related to cancer as well. Research in several cancer studies have shown the potential that ginger actually inhibits the growth of cancer cells.

ginger

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19833188

Here’s a pretty effective elixir to boost immune function and help with congestion due to a cold: From Kim Erikson

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, juiced or minced
1/2 lemon juiced
1 Tbs fresh ginger juice or finely grated ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
mix all ingredients and take at once as a shot
Happy Health!
Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. @ Kira’s Kitchen
Board Certified Holistic Health Coach

Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition

I gave a talk this morning at The Unitarian Universalist church of Pittsfield. It was part of a larger conversation about Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition. It was fun to partner up with the church administrator, Kas Maroney who offers strength training and other exercise classes. I will add an excerpt from the service for your reading pleasure.

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Mike Adams, author, investigative journalist and educator is quoted as saying

…“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” –

So how does nutrition contribute to having energy to do the things we like to do? Seems like a silly question doesn’t it. After all food and water are our life source, we all understand on some level that we can’t live without them. But it’s surprising how many people, including medical practitioners truly don’t consider the impact nutrition has on our health. When was the last time your doctor said “go home make a cup of tea (without sugar please) and vegetable barley soup and then go to bed early to catch up on your rest?” Rather we tend to believe and trust that there is a magic pill or medical procedure that can address whatever health issue arises. Therefore we don’t have to give much thought to how we eat and live our lives. In essence, we don’t have to take much responsibility in assuring we have good health because that’s someone else’s job.

We live in a society where the idea of health is that you reach a certain age and your health begins to fail. We expect to become ill throughout our lives with common ailments such as flu or cold and many of us grow up believing that due to our genetics we will develop whatever ailment has plagued our family of origin. The science to support this thinking is sketchy at times and often funded by pharmaceutical companies who are going to make killing on our fears. It has become our cultural or societal norm to be bombarded by advertisements for the next wonder drug and then we find ourselves calling our doctors to ask if it is right for us. The good news is there is a simpler, less dangerous solution that can in fact improve health and vitality at any age. The truth is nutrition and lifestyle have everything to do with how healthy we are regardless of our genetics.

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The student prepared feast at Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Leadership Program Level Ceremony!

The growing chatter out there about eating healthy whole foods or real foods for health can get a bit confusing, however. Go into any book store and you will find numerous books on the topic and some contradict the one you just read. That has more to do with competing interests than it does with good information. Many of these books offer good solid information that really needs to be considered if we are to reduce the growing health crisis we experience not only here in the United States with diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease, but now in many other regions of the world where diet has changed and moved away from the foods that were traditionally eaten.

Two of my favorite authors on the subject of healing through food include, Dr. Neal Barnard who I’ve eaten lunch with when he was visiting the Kushi Institute where I work part time, and Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lecture at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I am completing my studies as a health coach. These authors are among many authorities on gaining good health through diet. They have taken the time to learn and experience what a nutritious balanced diet can do for our overall good health. Dr. Barnard is the founder and president of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is one of the leading advocates of health, nutrition and higher standards in research. Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, is an award-winning leader in the field of natural health, and a highly sought-after lecturer and wellness consultant…. and she is funny. Colbin is Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet. They are both prolific writers and they speak the truth as is supported by good research. I think one of the best outlines written explaining good food and how to approach it was written by Dr. Colbin.

In her book, “Food and Healing” Anne Marie Colbin outlines seven criteria for food selection which I believe helps us really think about how to find the foods we need for good health and energy. I want to share an excerpt from the book that details these seven criteria. She starts with:

Whole: as nature provides them, with all their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin – if not waxed) cooked raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods Colbin says supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of the food.

Fresh, natural, real, organically grown: meaning not canned, not frozen, certainly not irradiated or genetically engineered, free from chemical additives, colorings or preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations (such as margarine or artificial sweeteners) which invariably turn out to have some health damaging effect. Organically grown foods not only have been proven to have higher nutrients, but also taste far superior to the commercially grown kind.

Seasonal: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a very good idea to choose summery foods in the summer, wintery foods in the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper and do not lose nutrients like foods that have been transported long distances. They also taste better. In addition seasonal eating means salads and fruit in the summer and soups and stews in the winter. On the whole, most people do eat this way instinctively. However, with the advent of refrigeration, freezer trucks, and worldwide transportation we can get raspberries in December and yams in July.  We also ignore this natural order when we go on restricted diets, such as raw food and juice regimes, which require us to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the winter or cooked salty macrobiotic meals in the summer. With these diets we go out of sync with our environment, and we might feel cold in the winter, or cranky and depressed in the summer.

Local: Local produce is fresher, tastes better and is more nutritious because it is picked riper and does not lose nutrients in travel. The best restaurants in the country have discovered this and make an effort to obtain the freshest organically grown local foods, which they consider top quality.

In Harmony with Tradition: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and incorporate those foods into our diet where ever possible, maybe with some modifications (less salt, less fat, less sugar) For example, our staple grain will taste more appropriate if our ancestors ate it as well – barley and oats from the British Iles, Rye and wheat from Europe, Kasha from Eastern Europe and Russia, millet, teff and sorghum from Africa, millet and rice from Asia, corn and quinoa from the Americas.

Balanced: It’s important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in our diet as a whole, and to pay attention to the expansive/contractive, acid/alkaline and the five phase theory system. For aesthetics it is also important to include foods with a variety of flavors, colors and textures.

 Delicious: There is no point in eating “healthy” food if it doesn’t taste good. Besides, our taste buds can guide us, when encountering whole, real natural foods, to what we need and what we don’t need …and we’d do well to listen.

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The movement toward eating better is now thought to include a return to what our ancestors ate meaning eating foods grown closer to home in more natural circumstances. It also means getting rid of the sugary processed foods that are killing us. What we are learning in the nutrition field is that the closer the food we eat is to its natural form the better it is for us. My new food mantra is “if it contains more than a couple ingredients it’s probably not good for me.” I shop the perimeter of a grocery store and at open air or farmer’s markets when possible. I read labels incessantly and in reducing my sugar and processed food intake have greatly improved my health. In my health coaching practice I begin by suggesting clients reduce or refrain from eating the following foods: sugar, white flour and other gluten products, animal proteins, processed foods, alcohol and tobacco and in some cases soy products. This simple starting point has assisted many others in achieving their health goals. Though the recommendations are simple the practice is not always so simple. We are used to sweet and salty foods that don’t necessarily taste like the food they mimic. So it is important to be patient with yourself and have someone in it with you who can support you to reach optimal health.

I close today with this quote from Hippocrates:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

                                           Be Well!

Kira the Wonder Dog’s Greatest Adventure

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On September 8th, Kira the Wonder Dog left this planet for her greatest adventure ever leaving a large hole in my heart. I trust that with time (and apparently a lot of cooking) my heart will mend. Kira brought a smile to so many over the years with her ridiculous antics, sweet smile and her loving loyalty. Her pal Poohger continues to look around the house and yard for her. and when we take our familiar walks through the neighborhood Poohgar stops at all the Kira spots looking around as if she expects her to jump out from the bushes. I must admit I haven’t quite adjusted to the routine of our lives without her. And so this blog post is in honor of our dear friend Kira who brought us all great joy and who is running those grand figure 8s in puppy heaven now.

As the crisp fall air, perfectly blue sky and shorter days become the daily experience I have been gathering the foods I planted this summer to store so the fresh tastes of summer are available during the winter months. This week I have made pesto and pickles…guess it has been a “P” week. There is nothing quite as nice as making a pesto dish in January to remind us that spring will come again before long. In fact I’m not waiting until January to eat some pesto. I found these delightful recipes in Eating Well Magazine and I’ll be making the arugula pesto tonight. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_pesto_recipes

pesto

I also put up about 16 pints of dill pickles, some the refrigerator variety and some the old fashioned canned variety. I like the uncooked version because the healthy bacteria don’t get cooked out of the pickles when you refrigerate them. This weekend I will be putting up several pints of red and green cabbage sauerkraut also without cooking out the healthful bacteria. This is an easy to follow recipe for homemade sauerkraut that I found to be very good: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/homemade-sauerkraut. There are many health benefits to eating traditional fermented foods which I have shared in previous blog posts. If you would like more information check out Dr. David Williams http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-benefits/ and Dr Oz http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/fermented-foods-for-powerful-immunity. Starting with sauerkraut is easy but there are many wonderful quick pickle recipes out there as well. I’m adding a broccoli stem quick pickle I make and eat weekly:

Broccoli Stem Pickles

2 cups broccoli stems

2 tsps rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic minced

½ tsp fresh grated ginger

½ tsp coriander seeds crushed

½ tsp cumin seeds crushed

½ tsp sea salt

Using a sharp knife peel away the fibrous skin of the broccoli and then cut the pale inside trunk into matchsticks.

Blanch broccoli matchsticks for 1 minute in boiling water, rinse immediately with cold water. Then place in glass bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over broccoli matchsticks in glass bowl.

Refrigerate for 2 hours, serve.

Benefits of Broccoli from The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood

           Broccoli supports the liver, spleen, stomach and bladder and helps to regulate circulation. It treats the eyes and helps to reduce eye inflammation. Broccoli is slightly diuretic. It’s anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties are due in part to its immune boosting glusinolates (specifically indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane). Broccoli contains twice as much vitamin C as an orange and is a superior source of vitamin A and K. It has almost as much calcium as whole milk and its calcium is better absorbed. Broccoli contains selenium, is a modest source of alpha tocopherol vitamin E and has value as an antioxidant.

cherubs & pups 004kira snowKira Christmas Dog

So here’s to you Kira girl…we love you and hold you close in our hearts forever.

Take a moment this weekend to tell the people and pets in your life how much they matter to you. Share a meal together without the distraction of phones, TV or computers. Relish these simple times together sharing attention and love and you will be spreading the ripple of that love and appreciation into a world that can at times seem unkind.

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I send prayers of gratitude to all that has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains, the beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them, just as it does me,

And the Earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

And the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me.

I thank the fire that transformed them, just as I wish to be transformed by the fire of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food,

Just as I thank all those that have touched me in so many ways.

Sedonia Cahill

Blessed Be

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.
Certified Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

How many of you remember the children’s rhyme about beans? You know the one that claims the more you eat the more you toot. Ha, Since those early days as a child living in a neighborhood in Northern California where we skipped down the street singing this tune, I’ve come to really appreciate the health benefits of beans….and how to cook them so you don’t toot quite so much.
LEGUMES
http://yumuniverse.com/how-tosday-soaking-and-cooking-legumes/
Heather Crosby of Yum Universe describes how to prepare legumes and why it is important to use the real deal whenever possible rather than from a can. I love the way she outlines yields and cooking time in this blog entry.

Beyond this beans are just plain good for you and offer a very good source of protein and nutrients that is easily digested for most people. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat them either. My rule of thumb goes something likes this…replace red meat with red beans at least once weekly for optimal digestion of proteins. The American Heart Association agrees that beans are preferable to animal proteins for heart health. For some people who suffer from digestive issues such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease eating beans can be challenging but for most of us they are a welcome addition to our protein intake.

There is a wonderful assortment of legumes available on the market today. You can find them in bulk at many small markets and even some of the larger scale grocery stores have added bulk bins so you can grab good quality, organic non-GMO dried beans. Beans and Legumes provide soluble fiber and are packed with nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are a pretty versatile food that can be prepared in a wide range of dishes from around the world. I must say since I’ve replaced meat with beans and bean products such as tofu and tempeh my energy and weight have both markedly improved.
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I’m going to share a favorite snack I make with adzuki beans, a sweet bean originally from japan that is described by many foodies as a super food along with chickpeas, lentils and black beans all of which I eat regularly. This high energy snack is both delicious and nutritious!

Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:
For the adzuki balls:
• 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/4 cup cocoa
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
• 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:
You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out.
• 1 cup of selected topping
• 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:
Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

And for a little childhood humor:

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!

the_bean_eater
http://www.artble.com/artists/annibale_carracci/paintings/the_bean_eater

The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 – 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

Be Well

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Back to School Basics

In some places children have already returned to school with the anticipation that the start of a new adventure brings. Locally we have another week to wind down our summer. Even though the private school where I’m employed as a counselor and nutrition consultant is a year round school I still get that beginning of the school year feeling. It’s something between excitement for all the possibilities and melancholy about the end of another summer season.
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In keeping with the beginning of the school year theme as it relates to my health coaching practice, I wanted to share some ideas for how to pack healthy, brain food for your child/ren that doesn’t set them apart from their peers. Let’s make eating healthy the cool thing to do this year and see if it can become the new cool. Something as simple as cream cheese (or Tofutti dairy free cream cheese) topped with fresh fruit is sure to grab kids attention.
back-to-school-snacks
Other ideas range from fruit kabobs to assorted wraps. Most fruit will keep in a lunchbox and when it’s as easy as sliding off a skewer into your mouth who can resist.
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http://www.chow.com/food-news/89934/27-healthy-snack-ideas-for-kids-lunch-boxes/
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http://www.mysporties.com/tuesday-tip-snacks-to-kick-off-the-school-year-with-a-healthy-start/
We can create so many variations of wraps that it’s limitless. In fact, in many schools they are slowly replacing white enriched bread with whole grain breads and wraps.
veggie-wrap-single
http://www.bodyenlightenment.me/blog/2013/08/how-to-put-healthy-back-into-school-lunches/
Wraps are an easy way to include vegetables in your child’s lunch in a way that they will eat them. If you can make the time to engage your child in the preparation of these beauties they are more likely not to trade them away for a snickers bar. My favorite wrap to teach children to make in my Cool Kids Cooking Class is the California wrap which includes avacado, sprouts, cucumber, carrots and cheese (if your child can tolerate dairy). It always makes me smile to see how quickly kids take to eating healthy when they are part of the preparation.
cali vege wrap
I also suggest getting to know the lunch ladies (and gents) who are preparing school breakfast and lunch. Be kind to these hard working people and let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Congratulate them when they have made something healthy and kid friendly. Offer your ideas about improving school meals in a way they can hear you. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that people respond better when you are willing to walk with them on their journey than when we give the impression we know what’s best. lunch ladies
If you are involved in your child’s school you may want to get involved in changing school food programs so that all children enjoy a healthier meal. For some children these are the only meals they eat each day so keeping it nutritious means they can attend to learning and the other challenges school brings. One of the many challenges educators face is holding all children to a standard. When a child experiences food insecurity it can be nearly impossible for them to focus on English or math. Educators are all too aware of these challenges.
An example of what a couple moms did in Berkeley California to change the school lunch program in their children’s school is the movie “Two Angry Moms.” It outlines what isn’t working with school meal programs and shows how they went about dramatically creating the change in their school. It is one example of how to start thinking about the food we eat and provide to school children.
lunch-wars-cover

“You must be the change you want to see in the world”
Mahatma Ghandi

Be Well
Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Microbiome…What Did You Say?

The first time I heard the term microbiome during my training to become a Certified Health Coach I looked it up to see what it meant. Here is what Wikipedia has to say: A microbiome is “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space. The term comes from a Nobel Prize recipient, Joshua Lederberg (5/25/1925-2/2/2008), an American molecular biologist who among other things discovered that bacteria can mate and exchange genes. Pretty cool stuff huh!

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https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/4199

The term I use as a Health Coach is “gut flora” which sounds just a little less scientific. The truth is our digestive system is important for us to understand if we wish to remain healthy. It often is not the first place we think to look when we’re not feeling well but it is the system that processes and absorbs nutrients so if it’s off we are not getting our nutritional needs met.

Microbiome comes up a lot in the work I do with people in my health coaching practice seeking to improve their health. What I have learned and pass along is that we can be healthy but if out gut flora is not balanced we run the risk of compromised immune or nervous systems and this can also create and imbalance in our hormones resulting in mood and in some cases more serious mental health issues. Let’s take a look at the digestive system to gain a little insight into what it does to keep us healthy.

 

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We actually start digesting food the minute we come into contact with it. In fact smelling food starts our salivary glands working even before the food enters our mouth. When we take the time to chew our food (chewing until food becomes fairly liquid is best) it enters the next leg of the journey pre-digested helping the process along. The food then travels to our stomach where it mixes with acids before going onto our small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed and then to our large intestine where water is absorbed. The health of our gut flora is most critical at this point as the villi in the small intestine absorb our nutrients. If the villi have been damaged by too much unhealthy fats, chemicals and sugars they are unable to gather nutrients from the food we eat.

 

Our liver works to process the toxins that travel with our foods. Some of these toxins are excess sugars and fats, pesticides, heavy metals and other foreign substances.

 

digestive system

My mother was always saying “chew your food” while my father would say “where’s the fire slow down”. As a rather hyper kid mealtime was one more thing that got in the way of being outside running around which helped me manage all that energy. I was fortunate to have had an abundance of fresh real foods available to me as a kid growing up in northern California, pre Silicon Valley Santa Clara County. There were small farms and ranches all around me so fresh produce, nuts and fruit was available at farm stands and in the grocery stores year round. We ate wild meats most often such as venison, wild fowl and fish so the possibility of hormones or antibiotics that are so commonly in meats we find in the store now was not there.

I grew up in a generation where healthier food options were the norm. I can remember when McDonalds opened in Gilroy and fast food became available. Children since the 1970s have increasingly been exposed to more fast foods, processed foods, chemicals and GMOs in their food supply. Food production standards claim to be higher but they are not taking into account the fact that so much of what most people eat is not live food. The most important thing I can teach the people who come to me seeking improved health is to eat real, fresh food free from chemicals and GMOs. Skip the processed, fast foods and beverages that provide nearly zero nutritional value and wreck havoc on our digestive systems.

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It’s in our control to begin to eat healthier and to treat our bodies well. If we assume our body will withstand the unhealthy foods and drinks we consume without adverse effects over time we will find ourselves with health issues at some point.

Visit a local farm or farmer’s market this week and find some real food.

Be Well

http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Summer’s Bounty

It is the first day of summer which means that our gardens will start to swell with yummy fresh vegetables soon. I love tending gardens even when they get away from me and start growing plants that were not invited. I tend to be one of those gardeners that likes the organic nature of how things grow so neat rows really don’t matter to me. Some of my neighbors might wish I was less of a cottage type gardener but they are kind and marvel at how much produce I can pull out of my tiny little patch of ground.

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 My garden looks more like this one…

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Than it does like this,,, though I truly appreciate all forms of gardening and love browsing catalogs and online to see what creative ideas are out there. I value each individual plant and try to understand it’s purpose even if it is considered a weed. Prior to cultivation many of these so called weeds were staple foods in tribal peoples diets so I think it wise to consider and honor them. This honoring of “weeds” is not an excuse for not keeping my garden weed free…I gave up on that many years ago and still have great fresh vegetables each year.

So the snow peas in my wild little garden are setting flowers now and the baby kale is so tender you can eat it right off the plant…no preparation. I will try to plant my second harvest of snow peas again today since the resident chipmunks decided they liked the pea seeds this year and neatly removed all of them promptly after I planted them.

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I’ll also get the zucchini plants under my form of control (move them off the grass I plan to mow) and then mow the wild lawn before getting into the canoe for a leisurely paddle on the lake with friends. There will soon be more zucchini than can be eaten so hello friends and neighbors welcome to zucchini harvest!

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is that gardens are not meant to be perfect or orderly. Life is not, so why try to create that order in our gardens. Seek the beauty in each plant no matter how seemingly unimportant it appears to be. This coming from someone who knows. Get outside and play on this first day of summer!

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“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere: the dew is never all dried at once: a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round Earth rolls.”         John Muir

Blessed Be

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http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/events