Our body is made up of different complex systems. Therefore, you shouldn’t necessarily single out and look at the importance of just the one organ. But, in this case I believe we can.
Our amazing liver has more than 500 different functions in the body! If the liver is not able to work as it should, all of the functions that it is involved with will suffer. Other organs will try to pick up the slack for a while, but ultimately they will fail. This over time can make our bodies completely exhausted and sick.
I believe that it’s hard to take good care of something that we don’t understand. So, why not get a little better familiar with our super hero the liver? This short video gives an excellent summary of what’s going on. And if you are new to this blog, you can read a bit more about the liver here and here.
Let’s keep on learning to better understand our body! 😉
Last weeks post created some interesting conversations! So, if constipation is an end problem, where does it all start? It all has to do with proper digestion.
Digestion is a process moving from North to South. Meaning, it starts up top, moves through a “long tube”, the digestive tract, and comes out at the very end. This means that if things are not working well from the upper end of the tube, it will just be worse the further down the tube we go.
So, why don’t we go to the very first step of digestion and see what we can do to improve the situation on a daily basis. Do you think that the first step is when the food enters your mouth? Close, but that’s not it.
The very first step of digestion actually happens in your brain! When we see, smell or think of the food we are about to eat we trigger a response in the brain. This is an important step because the brain in turn sends signals to get the digestive tract ready for food. That’s why for instance we start salivating before we eat, and it also activates our stomach juices.
However, this can only happen when we are in a relaxed state, which is run by the parasympathetic nervous system aka “the rest and digest” system. If we are hurrying and feeling a bit stressed, it is the sympathetic nervous system that is turned on aka “the fight and flight” system. When this system is turned on we are not able to digest food very well. It makes a lot of sense to the body, because whenever the fight and flight mode is up and running, the body’s main concern is immediate survival.
We have gotten so used to being in constant stress, running from one place to the next that we now perceive this state as normal. It is not. Therefore, if you want to start your digestion off right you need to activate your parasympathetic, rest and digest, system. This can easily be done by sitting down at the table and taking at least 3 deep breaths, preferably more, before eating. By allowing your body to slow down and relax, it is now able to start the digestion process in a great way. Whether you are religious or not, saying grace before eating actually makes a lot of sense from a digestive point of view.
It also goes without saying that eating while driving, walking, or hurrying in between meetings is not going to be a great idea. To improve upon your digestion from the very start the principle is simple and easy to perform. Anyone can take 3 deep breaths before eating. We just have to retrain ourselves to slow down and relax before we eat.
Take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy your food! 😉
Constipation is a topic that we don’t really talk about, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Actually, being able to poop easily every day should be standard. It is a very important function within our body and it can immediately tell us a lot about the state ofour internal health.
So what does good bowel movement look like? The frequency should be once or twice a day. It should not take any effort, the shape should be like a large sausage, with the consistency of soft clay. Too frequent visits, just like too few, is an indication that something is off balance.
If you are not able to go daily you are constipated. If it also takes a long time and effort when you do go, then you should really pay attention. Your poop is your comprised internal garbage, and if it hangs out for too long in the large intestine it will cause problems. It’s like you have an open trashcan completely full, just sitting in your hallway. Within a short amount of time that garbage will make your whole house smell like s**t and nasty stuff might seep over the edges and spread into your house. Yuck!
When too much water gets reabsorbed your soft clay turns into very hard balls making pooping very difficult and even painful. Also, the longer the garbage hangs out in your intestine, more of the nasties and yucky stuff will get reabsorbed. Your intestines are very thin walls made of cells, and they are not completely solid. Meaning, it is possible for particles to seep through the walls of the intestine and get into other areas of the body. You do not want old trash hanging out in the wrong place. Hence, why you want to get the garbage out on time.
So, what can you do to assist your body in this process? The easiest thing to do is to make sure you are drinking enough water, eat plenty of vegetables and fiber. I like adding ground flaxseed to my food for added fiber. You can also improve on your position on the toilet by putting a small box or similar under your feet. It may sound silly, but as you will see in this video, it really does make a difference.
I am very excited and happy to be able to tell you that after a lot of studying and exams, I am now a certified Nutritional Therapist! There is new information on my web page about functional nutrition and how that works. There is also an update on the welcome page, and on some of the general information pages. As always you can find my working hours on the contact page. Of course learning never stops, so I am very glad about the opportunity to dig even deeper into this key area of health at a couple of seminars in New York during this year.
There are also some new projects in the works, so keep an eye out for those here.
The blog has been up and running for over a year! Time flies, that’s for sure. It has definitely been a challenge at times to post something every week, between work, studies and travel. But every time someone comments on the blog, or I get a “ah, I hadn’t thought about that” makes it worthwhile.
It has been a great experience for me so far, bringing up a lot of fun and interesting conversations with clients and friends. Thank you very much for your feedback -and keep it coming, as I plan to keep this up for quite a while longer.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Have a great weekend! 😉
Pay attention – avoiding salt in your diet is outdated advice! As usual in our culture we like to make things either good or bad, but it is all about quality and balance. A few years back a good friend of mine ended up in hospital with severe heart problems, because he tried being “as healthy as possible” by completely avoiding all salt.
This guy was a top level athlete, but that didn’t matter because if the heart doesn’t get the right mineral balance, it cannot function properly.
“Low salt diets cause insulin resistance…If you go on a low salt diet, heart rate generally goes up pretty dramatically.” -Dr. James DiNicolantonio
I have previously written about the importance of salt in terms of hydration. Also, there is a very important distinction to make between healthy mineral and sea-salt, bad for you table-salt and the salt you find in processed foods. You can read about those things here.
The impacts of not having enough quality salt and the right mineral balance in our bodies is massively understated. You do however need to assess your own personal situation before making changes. Too much salt, especially the poor kind we find in processed is bad for you, and a reduction will probably do you well. But, not getting enough of a high quality sea-salt can also be very bad for you. In that case you will need to increase your intake. Remember, we are after a good balance.
“Most of the evidence shows that a low salt diet actually causes hypertension in the long run” -Dr. James DiNicolantonio
Salt is also important in creating the right amounts of stomach acid. We need a strong stomach acid in order to break down the minerals and access them on a molecular level. If we have a weak stomach acid we will not be able to absorb these vital minerals, even if they are in the food that we eat.
The following is a great podcast that expands on the importance of getting enough quality salt in your diet, and what happens if you are deficient. Did you know that if you find yourself craving potato chips – you are most likely mineral deficient?!
Salt is neither good or bad, it’s all about quality and balance! Enjoy your weekend! 😉
Flaxseed, also know as lineseed, is a very powerful little seed. It would be a very smart move on your part to add this to your daily intake of nutrient dense foods. Now why is that? I am so glad you asked!
Flaxseed contains a lot of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans (antioxidants). These are very important factors that can help with digestion, healthy skin and hair, and protect against radiation toxicity. But, it doesn’t stop there, flaxseed has also been shown to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and is great at fighting cancer.
Flaxseed has been shown to lower cholesterol, improve arterial health, lower blood pressure and is great at fighting cancer.
Flaxseed isn’t very expensive and a little will go a long way. Buy it organic as a whole seed. You want to grind it up before eating it. I do not recommend buying flaxseed that has already been ground as it goes rancid a lot quicker, and you never really know how long it has been sitting in that bag. Add it to your salad or food as it is. If you want to pick it up another notch, you can soak or sprout the seeds first and then grind them.
Why not eating them just as they are? All the good stuff that we want is inside the seed. If we don’t break it open first, the seed will just pass through our digestive system without us getting what we need from it.
What about the oil?
The oil is a great addition if you are looking for extra omega-3 fatty acids. Add it to your food, or just drink it straight from a spoon. Depending on the extraction of the oil from the seed, the taste can be very different. I have tried a lot of different ones and found one that I really like. So, if you don’t like it the first time you try it, give another brand a chance. Always store the oil in the fridge as it is very sensitive to light and heat. Never cook with this oil, just add it onto the food afterwards.
For maximum nutrition and if I was on a budget I would choose to grind up the flaxseed myself. It’s cheaper, the whole seeds can be stored longer and you get all of the benefits in one go.
Make sure to drink enough water if you consume the flaxseed dry (not soaked), as they will absorb a lot of water in the digestive tract as they go through the system. If you want to learn even more on flaxseed here is a great article.
It’s the little things we do every single day that adds up. So add up on the flaxseed and let this little superhero help you!
Are you enjoying the Olympics and all the amazing athletes? I sure am! Have a great weekend everyone! 😉
Studies on Flaxseed and:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25740909 – Reduction in Blood Pressure
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19515737 – Reduction in Cholesterol
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24013641 – Reduction in Breast Cancer
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19064574 – Reduction in Prostate Cancer
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16314082 – reduced hyperactivity in ADHD
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21677123 – Vascular health and Blood pressure
If you have read some of my earlier posts you will know by now the importance that I put on drinking water and being properly hydrated. Some of the feedback that I get when I talk to friends and clients about this, is that it is hard to keep track on just how much water and other liquids that you are drinking during a whole day. This is especially true for when you are traveling as you tend to be out of your own rhythm, and not necessarily in charge of the daily schedule.
Early Signs of Dehydration:
Cravings, Cramps, Anxiety, Fatigue, Irritability, Depression, Headaches
Rather than scribbling down how much you drink on a piece of paper, only to forget the paper somewhere, I thought to myself – there is probably an App to deal with that. Indeed. There are plenty of Apps out there to help you to keep track of your drinking habits. I tried out this one simply called “Water Drink Reminder”.
It is not perfect, but I really do like it, especially when traveling. The app gives you a daily number of how much water to drink, based on your weight. It does not add more water to your total if you drink a coffee, which I think it should, but you can adjust for this manually, so that’s OK. You can also customize what types of drinks you usually have, making the tracking swift and easy.
Mature Signs of Dehydration:
Migraines, Back pain, Joint pain, Heartburn, Fibromyalgia, Colitis, Constipation
I think that this App is a great tool, especially when trying to build new habits. Seeing in pictures what you drank, when and how much, really gives you a very clear idea of what is going on. The App is free, so why not go ahead and try it? Ask yourself, -are my drinking habits really as good/bad as I think they are?
Once you see what’s going on during a whole day, it’s much easier to see where your weakness is. Then you can figure out a plan of how to improve, and work on that until you’ve created anew habit. Do you already have a favorite drinking tracking App? Let me know what it is, I would love to try it out.
I wish you all a great start to your weekend, and keep up the good work on staying properly hydrated, day by day ;)
Your Body’s Many Cries For Water by F. Batmanghelidj
Now that we have discussed the importance of soaking legumes and grains, lets get into a great method of how to cook quinoa perfectly every time. When I first started cooking quinoa I often felt very frustrated because either it came out very uneven, or it was just very mushy.
I tried a couple of different recipes. Sometimes they worked great, and other times not so great. I was looking for consistency but couldn’t really seem to find it. And then I found Hemsley & Hemsley‘s cookbook “The Art of Eating Well”. It is a great cookbook with lots of good reasoning and smart ideas. I tried out their recipe for cooking grains, and it works like a charm every time! *Happiness*
"No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing" -Julia Child
I usually make a big batch of quinoa when I cook it, as it is such a versatile grain. It is easily kept fresh in the fridge, and it tastes great warm and cold. I like to always have some in my fridge as it is high in protein, easy to digest for most people (gluten free), and quickly gives any meal some more bulk. It is so easy to remember the quantities as well, because you use the same amount of water when cooking, as you use grams of quinoa. Easy!
How I do it:
The night before, put 300g quinoa in a large bowl. Cover it with plenty of fresh water, and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Stir it a few times and let it sit over night, or at least for 8 hours.
The next morning: 1.Give the quinoa a good stir and pour out all the water. Pour some fresh water over it, give it a good stir and pour out all of the water again. I use a large fine-mesh strainer for this. 2.Bring 300g/mlof water, with some added good sea-salt to a boil (use a lid on the pot or you will loose too much liquid). Once the water is boiling add your (now drained) quinoa, and give it a stir. 3.Put the lid back on, and turn the heat down to low-medium. (My stove ranges from 1-9, and I put it on a 3. 4.Put a timer on for 12 minutes. 5.When the time is up, turn off the heat, but leave the pot where it is for a couple of minutes. Sometimes I open up the lid for a few seconds to get rid of some extra steam, and then I put it back on. Try for yourself and see what you like best. 6. Done!
I hope you will find this recipe as useful as I have. Have a great weekend! 🙂
Certain foods can really benefit from some quick preparation, such as soaking. It makes the food (such as legumes and grains) much easier to digest, gets rid of the stuff we don’t want and enhances our absorption of their nutrients. It only takes about 2 minutes and a little bit of planning ahead, and that’s it!
So, why is soaking so beneficial? What would you do if all of a sudden out in the distance you saw a big wolf coming charging at you? I bet you would run away as fast as you could and take cover. Phew! That was scary, but now you are safe.
Well, what do you do if you are a plant? As the plant does not have the ability to run away to avoid the predator, it has to choose a different method. Chemical warfare! When plants are being eaten or attacked, lets say by insects, it changes its chemical structure around the area that was just bitten into to protect itself. It will taste more bitter to the animal, and maybe after a few bites the animal will leave the plant alone.
This is also why a fresh vegetable that hasn’t been damaged in transportation, will taste so much sweeter than a vegetable that has been banged up in transport. The vegetable is simply trying to protect itself. One year we had brussel sprouts in our garden, and a friend of mine liked eating them so much she decided to buy some at the store later that week. Unfortunately though, she told me that they had tasted so bitter that she really didn’t like them. That is how big of a difference plant chemical warfare can make.
Plants also protect their seeds with a layer of phytic acid. For us humans the phytate can irritate the lining of the gut, and also prevent the absorption of some minerals. All legumes, seeds, nuts and grains have this natural protective layer. We can usually handle a small amount of phytic acid, but not a lot. This is why some people experience a lot of extra gas or abdominal discomfort after having eaten beans for instance. The digestive system has a hard time with the phytic acid and so the beans do not get digested very well. When the beans enter the lower intestine the oligosaccharides (sugar) start to ferment there. Hence all the discomfort and gas.
Enter soaking! I will use lentils in this example. When we soak lentils in water before cooking them, the phytic acid gets broken down, and so it is much easier for us to digest. If you add a splash of apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice to the water you will enhance the process of breaking down the phytic acid even further.
An added bonus to this is that it is actually very inexpensive to buy organic dry lentils, and they will double in volume after soaking. It is also very easy to store them at home, so you could buy them in bulk to save even more. Lentils are also very nutrient dense and full of protein so it is a great addition to any diet. Having soaked the lentils also cuts down on the cooking time, so you will be even more efficient in the kitchen.
Soaking – what’s not to like?!
How to prepare the lentils The night before: Rinse your lentils well, and cover with plenty of water, and a dash of apple cider vinegar. The lentils will double in size so make sure you use a large bowl/pot. You could of course also start in the morning and cook them at night. Try to get at least +8h of soaking time.
The next morning: Pour out the old water and give the lentils a quick rinse with clean water. Put the lentils in a pot and cover them with plenty of water. *Exp.level; Add Kombu.
Put a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the lentils are tender. You want tender and not mushy. This takes approximately 10 min, depending a bit on which type of lentil you are using. Red and yellow lentils are usually very quick to cook (5min), and green/brown takes about 10min.
*Expert level: Add a piece of kombu to the lentils. Kombu is a large seaweed that has an amazing ability to neutralize some of the gas-producing compounds in the lentils. This is especially good when cooking beans, as beans have a tougher shell than the lentils. The Kombu will also expand in size, so a small piece will go a long way. Discard after cooking.
If you are using it with beans, take it out after about 45min of cooking otherwise it will be all mushy and hard to separate from the beans.
This Instagram post by Coach Ben Bergeron is just too good not to share. It just sums up so much in one picture. I really don’t think that I have to add anything to it. Hopefully this will provoke some good head-work, and help you to evaluate your own situation, whether in sports, relationships or work.
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”