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Month: May 2017

Elevated Blood Sugar, Round 2

Elevated Blood Sugar, Round 2

Previously we discussed what it means when you have elevated blood sugar and how it affects your body.  You can find the link here: http://growingtheseed.com/elevated-blood-sugar/

Once you know this, it is important to know that for many, your choices in day to day life can lead you away from elevated blood sugar and possible diabetes, or they can get you there faster.  We are going to discuss some easy and healthy ways to lower blood sugar and maintain improved glucose levels on a regular basis.

Let’s remember that food, stress, and environment all play a role in our health.  Eating, exercising, social interactions… they all cause our body to respond chemically.  This means our body is releasing hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, insulin…) as it feels it necessary.  Our body is in a constant state of awareness- it is primed and ready should it need to switch from relaxed mode to go mode.  Foods that are good for our individual bodies will have little impact, but when we eat something that is not right for our body, it creates a larger insulin response.  This is true for exercise and environmental exposures, too.

For someone who is in otherwise good health, these little episodes of fluctuating blood sugar can be corrected nicely and we are back on track to regular programming.  Eating the wrong foods, having the wrong timing of eating, temporary illness, or undergoing stress are common triggers for blood sugar alterations.  But if you are not at optimal health, it is harder for your body to navigate these changes.  Weight gain, lack of exercise, poor food choices and unregulated stress are risk factors for high blood sugar that eventually leads to diabetes.

If you fall in this second category and are experiencing high blood sugar levels (pre-diabetes), you are in luck!  Unless there is an underlying medical condition, your situation is reversible.  So let’s talk about what you can do.

First off, let’s talk about food.  Did you know there is an easy way to tell if a food is good for you?  This is not an allergy or sensitivity test.  This is simply a way to tell if “your” body handles a particular food well.

  • On an empty stomach, take your pulse.  Write it down on a piece of paper.  http://www.wikihow.com/Check-Your-Pulse
  • Eat the food in question.  Only eat that food, do no eat anything else with it.
  • Wait thirty minutes, retake your pulse.  Write this second number down on the piece of paper.
  • After sixty minutes has gone by, check your pulse a third time.  Write it down.
  • Check it a fourth time after ninety minutes and write it down.
  • Now compare the four numbers.  If your heart rate has risen significantly at any point in this ninety minutes, this food is not right for you.  Any increase six beats or more is considered an indication of intolerance of that food.

These foods may or may not be off limits for you permanently.  Sometimes it is just a temporary sensitivity and is a response to an underlying issue.  Resolving this underlying issue can sometimes result in returned tolerance of the offending food.  Sometimes, however, it is a permanent sensitivity.

In addition to knowing what foods are good for your body, you can begin to design your eating plan around what will give you the maximum benefit.  You may have heard some mention of glycemic index.  This is a listing, a rating if you will, of foods and how they affect your blood sugar levels.  Starches, especially refined and processed ones, are your biggest offenders.  Breads, rices, pastas, sugars, treats (cookies, cakes, candies), dairy, white potatoes and some fruits can be trouble spots.  This does not mean you cannot eat them ever.  It means you need to monitor your intake of them.  Get to know how they affect you personally, and go from there.  Again, what spikes your friend’s blood sugar may or may not spike yours.  Each person is unique.

Next, starting your day off with breakfast is good for your thyroid, your metabolism, and contributes to steady energy levels throughout the day.  After a long night’s sleep, try starting your day with some healthy protein and fats.  Eggs, avocados, and greens are great options to get you going.  If you have no appetite right away, listen to your body and ease gently in to breakfast.  Some of us need to eat immediately, and some of us need to give it an hour or two.  Pay attention to how you feel when you eat versus when you don’t, and take notes in a journal if necessary.  Watch for patterns among your foods, behaviors, and mood or how your body feels.

In the meantime, here is a great breakfast idea for you to try:

Baked Eggs in Avocado

If you normally eat sandwiches or pastas for lunch, consider swapping them out for a salad.  Replace the grains with crunchy nuts and seeds full of omega threes and protein, and swap pastas for lower starch foods like sweet potatoes and squashes.  Packing a lunch for school or work?  No problem.  Check out these awesome Mason Jar Salads, complete with dressing!

30 Mason Jar Recipes: A Month Worth of “Salad in a Jar” Recipes

Dinners that offer a quality protein source, healthy fat, and nutritionally dense sides are your best bet.  If you are craving pasta, try the popular vegetable noodle recipes that are swarming the internet right now.  They’re delicious, and had my kids downing whole zucchinis in one meal!

50 Low-Carb Veggies Noodle Recipes

 

Looking for a sweet treat?  Replace your desserts with fresh or frozen berries.  Berries have a lower impact on blood sugar levels than melons and tropical fruits, such as papayas, mangos and even pineapples.  Whip up a little coconut cream and place a dollop on top.  Or better yet, eat with a spoonful of almond butter and cinnamon!  Here are some more dessert ideas that are low on sugars.

5-ingredient (or less!) desserts that are low in sugar

So now we understand what elevated blood sugar means, and we have some good dietary ideas on how to combat this.  Give these recipes a try and see what you think and how you feel.  Coming soon, we will talk about making some other easy (yet impactful) changes in our lifestyles that can further build your good health and prevent elevated blood sugar.

Immune Boosting (Almost) Summertime Soda

Immune Boosting (Almost) Summertime Soda

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Refreshing and fortifying?  Say it ain’t so!  But I tell you, it is!

Fortunately, we are pretty resilient and healthy in this household, but that doesn’t mean I don’t stock up on immune boosters when I catch wind of some virus going around.   A little pre-emptive strike never hurt anyone!  While we all are familiar with vitamin C and vitamin D and their benefits to our health, I love to utilize some of the lesser known beneficials.  I have a couple of reasons for this.

First, I have gotten away from relying on vitamins for health.  That is not to say that I don’t support their use, I do- just when it’s called for.  But if I can get nutrition from real food first, then you bet I will.  There are a number of inherent problems with vitamins in general.  Vitamins are often synthetic, produced in a lab to mimic their natural behavior.   It may seem the same as the natural form, but it behaves a little differently once it’s in our system.  Often, it’s less bioavailable to our bodies than the natural version.  What is bioavailability?  It describes how readily useable a nutrient is to our body.  What this often means is that the synthetic vitamins have to be packed with more nutrition in the first place because our body can only access so much from it.  In other words, they look higher in quantity of certain vitamins, but that’s because our body has to be supplied wth more in the first come to overcome the amount of nutrient it has no access to and will end up excreting, unused.

It’s also a popular practice to isolate properties and constituents from certain nutrients.  Research often focuses on  what makes a nutrient beneficial.  When they find one key component, this component gets isolated and sold in this form.  The intent is all well and good, to get straight to the most effective, impactful part of the nutrient.  But, what we often overlook in our search for the perfect magic bullet is that these foods are healthful in their entirety, not in their isolated constituents.  What I mean is that while this one constituent may certainly be beneficial for what the researchers found, what about the multitude of other constituents within this same food that are also beneficial?  Or more so, the fact these individual constituents all become ever more beneficial because they work synergistically together!  Our bodies do not work one individual part at a time, so why would a food?  It’s a living entity, too.

Manmade Vitamin C is usually combined with other unwanted goodies, like binders, fillers, and sugar!  The first two are just holding the pill together, and the last is added because otherwise it’s pretty unpalatable.  My kids have always begged for those vitamin C gummies and chewables.  Check the ingredients list.  Hey, look!  Sugar, right up there at the top of the list.  Which is ironic in a vitamin C immune boosting supplement, considering sugar is notorious for being an immune breaker.  So I have come to see these vitamins as a wash.   The bad ingredients wipe out the good.

Real food is often cheaper than supplements too.   We pay so much to be able to get our nutrients in a pill, a once and done thing.  Then we go eat food.  But since we have to eat food anyway, why not accomplish two goals in one fell swoop?  Get your vitamins from your food sources, and save your money.   Chances are, when you are eating clean, good quality foods, they will be sufficiently dosed in the vitamins you need to keep your system running well.  Processed, conventionally raised food may be cheaper at the outset, but you will just have to compensate later with more vitamins, supplements, and medical expenses.  It’s just filler.  Why not swap out your empty filler for health fortifying foods that taste delicious and save you in health and money down the road?  Plus, remember from above, the real food is jam packed with all the necessary components to give you the most effective boost!

So, what are my go-to boosters?  Well, any internet search for immune boosters will bring up myriad foods and herbs.  And that is a beautiful thing.  We have so much to choose from!  It’s empowering to see how many foods are able to supply our bodies with all the health we need.  For me, the fun lies in finding the right mix of ingredients to create something exciting and enjoyable.

 

During the winter we love hot, soothing teas.  They are so comforting.  But now as we enter the warm months, we needed something cooling, something refreshing.  So I took our wintertime favorite and put a little spin on it.

Ginger lemon tea is a staple in our house.  But to this I added turmeric for increased anti-inflammatory effects.  It also strengthens the effects of ginger, and vice versa.  And this was all well and good, but next came my new recent love.  Hibiscus flowers!  I love these little things.   I am talking about the dried petals from the hibiscus plant, and they are an excellent source of natural vitamin C.  As such, they provide a lovely little citrus flavor.  I usually sweeten this mixture with a good quality local honey, but it can be substituted with stevia if you prefer.

I tend to make this tea pretty concentrated.  We store this concoction in the fridge and use just a little at a time.  You can sip it off a spoon for a syrup-like dose, or do like we do- pour yourself a glass of Gerolsteiner mineral water, and add this mix for an indulgent flavor!

 

Immune Boosting Summertime Soda

  • 1/2″ piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1/2″ piece fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated
  • juice from 2 organic lemons
  • 1-2T. dried hibiscus flowers
  • sweetener of choice- honey or stevia, to taste

 

In a medium pot bring water almost to a boil, but not quite.  Add the fresh grated ginger and turmeric and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.

 * the longer steep time will increase the strength of flavor, and can add bitterness.  Especially with grated roots, taste after a few minutes to test for flavor.

Add the fresh squeezed lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat.  Add the hibiscus flowers now too.  Allow it to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes.

While still warm, add the honey to taste.  If using stevia, you can add powered form while still warm and dissolve thoroughly.  Add liquid stevia a few drops at a time and test for sweetness.

*I make mine extra strong with the herbs.  I store it as a concentrate and water it down when I drink it, so I plan for that.  Though honey needs to be added while still warm, I often add the liquid stevia at the time of use.

 

Summer CSA Series with Growing the Seed & Indigo Yoga Loft

Summer CSA Series with Growing the Seed & Indigo Yoga Loft

Summer CSA Series with Growing the Seed & Indigo Yoga Loft

How to Prepare, Cook and Get the Most from Your Summer Produce!

I am very excited to announce a Summer series I’ll be teaching!  Summer means sun, fun, and great, fresh food!  Every year I look forward to all the beautiful local produce from our local farmers.  I’m a huge fan of the farmer’s markets around here, but I also love to be a part of a CSA.  What’s a CSA?  It stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

You buy in to a share of produce from a local farm.  Your payment guarantees you a box delivered every week full of fresh goodies from the farm.  You can choose between a full or half share, and some farms have additional options such as fresh milk or eggs.  It’s a great deal for you because you are guaranteed wonderful fresh, locally grown produce every week, but it’s great for our farmers because we are supporting them in their endeavors!  Win-win!

Why buy local?  It’s better for you.  The food has higher nutrition content because it travels less, is picked at ripeness, and delivered to your drop spot.  It’s better for the community because we are supporting local businesses.  It’s better for the environment because there’s no long distance travel involved!

CSA’s are a wonderful way to do good for yourself and your community, so what are you waiting for?  And once you’ve signed up, join me this summer and I will teach you how to get the most from your fruits and vegetables!

 

How to Prepare, Cook and Get the Most from Your Summer Produce!

Do you participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program but don’t know what to do with all of that fresh produce?  Join Meredith from Growing the Seed and Jill from Indigo Yoga Loft for our 10 class CSA series and let us help you think outside the produce box!  Participants will learn:

    • How to identify those fruits and vegetables in your box
    • Health benefits of your weekly delivery
    • Sample and enjoy weekly recipes and menu options
    • Learn quick and easy cooking techniques

When: every other Wednesday from 6pm-7pm beginning June 7, 2017

Where: Indigo Yoga Loft

Cost: $10 per class, $45 for 5, or $80 for 10.

RSVP: 412-257-3200