Today I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach and do a quick hit on a few different nutrition news topics. They all tie together to reinforce the message that Nature is pretty cool…and impossible to duplicate. We’ve been blessed with incredible foods that can fuel and protect our amazing bodies; no chemicals, GMO nonsense, or artificial garbage necessary.
Most of these tidbits come from recently published research, and some are food facts that I just though were worth a share.
CAN IT GET ANY SWEETER?
Near the top of any list of natural sweeteners has to be honey. But its functionality goes well beyond its sweet taste. Honey is a well known antibiotic, and more research has been published showing that manuka honey (a New Zealand variety that Kelli and I fell in love with when we were there last year) is an efficient way to clear chronically infected wounds and reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
The study, performed by Professor Rose Cooper of the University of Wales, focused on three strains of bacteria: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Group A Streptococcus, and methicillin-resistant Stapylococcus aureus (MRSA). For all three strains, the honey impeded their growth by blocking the formation of biofilms that can shield the bacteria from antibiotic remedies.
Idea: If you have a craving for a sweet treat, try substituting honey for the sugar. Even though it’s natural, honey isn’t something you want to go crazy with, but the nutrition and immune benefits it provides make it a much better option than cane sugar.
GREEN IS ALWAYS IN STYLE
We can’t escape it…broccoli is good for us. Science proved it once again. It’s true for all green vegetables. The Babraham Institute in Cambridge found tiny chemical compounds in greens that protect the immune cells in the intestinal tract called intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) and accelerate their reproduction rate.
IEL’s are white blood cells found in many parts of the body but are particularly concentrated in the GI tract. Their main job is to destroy pathogens that enter the body through that big mouth of ours. Higher numbers of IEL’s increases our body’s defenses against the outside, germy world.
Lesson: there has yet to be a pill created that has come close to the benefit we get from eating the real food simply because science is a long ways off from understanding, let alone replicating, all of the intricate interactions that happen between the compounds in food and our cells. It’s just as true for George Bush as the rest of us…eat your broccoli.
HERBS MAKE A GOOD BREW
USDA-funded researchers reviewed scientific literature and confirmed what many of us already knew from experience. To calm the belly and calm the mind, chamomile tea has been a go-to remedy for a long time. In addition, the researches confirmed that it’s also anti-microbial and significantly reduces platelet-clumping. Peppermint tea is not only anti-microbial, but antiviral, antioxidant, antitumor, and antiallergenic. And for lowering blood pressure, hibiscus tea does the trick.
Idea: Forget the beans; brew some herbs. Herbal tea is a great morning or evening drink and a healthier option than coffee with none of the negative side effects.
SKIP A FEW MEALS EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE
At the 2011 American College of Cardiology conference, research from the Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Utah was presented showing periodic fasting is a good idea. Because it reduces weight and levels of sugar and triglycerides in the blood, it is particularly beneficial for our heart health. An earlier study already showed a direct association between fasting and a lower risk of coronary heart failure.
Skipping a meal or two on a regular basis allows your digestive system to rest and lets your body focus on healing and detoxifying, rather than dealing with more incoming food. All major religions incorporate a form of fasting in their worship. They’ve shown how it can strengthen the mind and the spirit. Having science confirm the physical benefits is just one more reason to incorporate a periodic fast into your lifestyle.
Idea: Try fasting for a meal or two on a regular basis and donate what you would have spent on that food (plus some extra if you can afford it) to your favorite charity. You improve your health and help others in need at the same time. Kelli and I try to do this once a month, donating to a particular program within our church that is allocated specifically for helping those who are struggling to pay for basic necessities like groceries, utilities, clothes, or rent. It makes those hunger pangs a lot more tolerable. 🙂
SEEING SEA VEGETABLES ON YOUR PLATE?
Yes, sea vegetables. And that’s just a bad marketing job of trying to put a positive spin on the word seaweed. Where land vegetables have been shown to have lower nutrient and mineral content today than in years past because of soil depletion, sea vegetables absorb everything they need from the mineral rich ocean water around them. This results in a very dense vitamin and mineral content. The amount of iodine in sea vegetables is more than twenty thousand percent above what’s provided by land vegetables. Iodine, particularly kelp iodine, assists nutrients enter the mitochondria in our cells and nourishes the thyroid gland.
Adding sea vegetables to your diet is a helpful way to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of minerals, which in turn will increase your energy, improve your sleep, help you reduce stress, strengthen your immune system, and protect against the common flu and cold. Because our bodily fluids are very similar to seawater, the nutrients from sea vegetables are absorbed very efficiently into our bloodstream.
I have to admit, it took me a bit to get used to eating seaweed. I never did like that nori wrap around my sushi rolls. But after I’ve tried it a few times in different forms, the taste has grown on me. Our favorite sources of sea vegetables are the seaweed salad (which is something I’ve come to crave) that you can find at any sushi restaurant or Asian grocery store, and a fun snack product we came across recently called SeaSnax.
Idea: If you already eat sea vegetables, great, keep it up. If it’s a new concept to you, try it out, try a few varieties, and try them until you find an option you like. Exploring new foods is what makes eating run, right?