As we start to enter the fall and winter seasons, for those of us in the further northern and southern areas of the globe our sun exposure begins to decline. Longer nights, shorter days, more gloomy overcast weather results in us getting less sun. Sun exposure is critical in helping our bodies make enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps our intestines better absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphate and zinc. Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. Lack of vitamin D can result in rickets which is a softening of the bones and is more common in developing countries where vitamin D supplementation is not usual. Lack of vitamin D can also result in feeling depressed (aka the winter time blues), body aches, and fatigue.
If you don’t spend much time in the sun, have darker skin, wear sunscreen or wear long sleeve shirts and pants when going out into the sun you may be at risk for lower levels of vitamin D. Diet alone also may not provide sufficient amounts of vitamin D, especially for those on a low or no dairy diet. To find out where your vitamin D levels are at it is advisable that when you have your routine physicals and blood tests done that you ask to have your vitamin D levels be tested.
Additional sun exposure is one way to ensure your body has enough vitamin D and the benefit of vitamin D made by sunlight is that your body cannot overdose from sunlight derived vitamin D. But your body can suffer from an overdose of sunlight in the form of sunburn and worse so we must temper our sun exposure time to achieve a proper balance. Where sun exposure is not possible all the time then vitamin D supplements can prove beneficial.
Too much vitamin D through supplements can be a bad thing. Some experts suggest 2000 IU of vitamin D per day is a good amount to consume. This is above the government suggested intake of 400 IU but below the maximum daily amount.
In addition to helping keep away the winter blahs, recent research indicates proper supplementation of vitamin D may help prevent certain cancers, reduce chances of hypertension and alleviate some other conditions. As with any supplement it is best to take it wisely based on the needs of your own body and to monitor your supplements through blood tests to see if you are where you should be.
You’ve done your best to reduce your sugar consumption some but are still looking for tips on how to reduce cravings to further yourself along. Sugar can be an addictive substance, it affects the pleasure center in our brains. Depending when we ate sugary sweets during life we may associate sugar consumption with positive events (birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations) so sugar consumption can be equated with positive emotions in our minds. Lets not forget the massive onslaught of advertising aimed to get us to buy this sweet or that treat through many means of psychological influence.
It is not an easy and cold turkey process to give up sugar and eliminate the cravings. There will be the occasional binges of sweets which lead to continued consumption for days, which can lead to relapse into our sugar eating ways. What’s worse is when you go to someones house for something like a birthday party where cake, ice cream, cookies and nother sweets are expected. It is hard to resist.
So how do you reduce those sugar cravings? There are a number of ways we can attempt to counter the intense cravings. One easy way is to substitute fruit sweetness for refined sugar sweetness. So if you feel yourself craving a piece of cake or pie then opt for some fruit like oranges, apples, pineapples or other fruit. The sugar in fruits is easier digested and dealt with by your body. Most fruits contain good amounts of fiber too which helps your digestive system. A cake loaded with frosting, sugar and bleached flour is obviously not going to be as body friendly as a fresh piece of fruit will be.
Another way to help reduce those cravings may be to eat a small piece here and there. This works well when your craving is more based on a psychological need. Eating that small piece of chocolate or few small bites of cake may be enough to satisfy and not require you to consume anymore. Of course if you are the type where one bites leads to another and then ten more bites, avoidance would be better.
Don’t buy sweets to begin with. If you don’t have sweets around then there is less chance for you to find yourself eating them during a moment of weakness. I know, it’s easier said than done. For those with kids in the house sweets are inevitably found in the pantry and are an easy target for something sweet to snack on here and there. If that is the case for you as well then tell other people in your household about your desire to eat less sweets. Whether it be to improve your health or just to cut back on sugar in general, when other people in your house know about it you will be less likely to grab something sweet to snack on. In the event you do grab something sweet one of your family members may ask you about it and cause you to rethink/remember that you want to cut back.
These are but a few suggestions to try. It will take time to wean ourselves away from the sugar rush cycle that our bodies have become accustomed to. But once you have kicked the sugar cravings and reduce your sugar consumption overall you will start to notice a little sugar goes a long way. Those donuts you once thought could use a pinch more powdered sugar may now seem too sweet to handle.
This is a tried and tested dinner roll recipe. Your overall time to make is multiple hours due to the time to let the dough rise. This also involved kneading the bread, which is a great form of exercise. This recipe uses somewhere around 8-10 cups of flour. Please enjoy!
Add together, lightly stir, and let stand:
2 packages yeast
2 teaspoons unbleached sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
Heat until warm (do not scald) and shortening is melted:
(Can do this in microwave)
1 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening (I use butter)
1/2 cup unbleached sugar
Thoroughly beat and add to cooling milk mixture:
Pour milk mixture into a large mixing bowl and place in a sink of cold water.
Add the cold, beaten eggs which aid in cooling. Cool until liquid is warm, stirring frequently, then add yeast to the warm milk and egg mixture. Sift unbleached flour (or use pre-sifted flour) and add to the liquid mixture until ready (soft dough) to put on bread board (or cabinet top). Have 2 cups flour on the board. Make a well for the dough. Work (knead) in the flour as needed for 10 minutes (you may or may not use all the 2 cups flour). Raise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or twice its size and punch down. Make into rolls, placing them into pans and letting them raise again. Bake. When done, swipe shortening or oleo over tops of rolls to keep them soft. Then turn out on wooden dough board, or racks, to keep them from sweating while they cool. If you want hot rolls, turn out tops down on plate and cover with nice towel to keep hot for your meal. These freeze well.
• Grease a 9 x 12 inch cake pan and an 8 x 8 inch pan
• Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, until a nice brown on top.
• Coat top of warm rolls with butter (yes, I used too much in the picture below)
Recently a celebrity doctor was called to speak in front of the U.S. Congress to talk about supplements he has endorsed in the past. While the Congressional inquiry focused primarily on the diet supplements others in the media took it as an opportunity to tarnish all supplements as well. Just as we cannot equally tarnish all pharmaceuticals we also cannot tarnish all supplements. As with anything the truth lies somewhere in between.
Depending on your diet and health related needs supplements can play a part in keeping you healthy in your day to day life. Dictionary.com defines “supplement” as “something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole. ” Maybe you are not deficient in a particular nutrient, that does not mean you cannot “reinforce” the whole of your body to make sure you have enough in times of stress or sickness. Especially in times of sickness the body needs extra vitamins and minerals in order to keep your immune system running optimally.
Ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake can be done with food where the food has been grown in properly prepared soils. One unfortunate aspect of mass industrial farming is the depletion of minerals from the soil, minerals which are then consumed by humans for their health. When you can’t get enough vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, supplementation may be necessary.
As with everything in life, moderation and an individualized approach is what works best. Different bodies have different needs due to genetics, local environmental factors, diet and more. The key to living healthier is being fully aware of your body and environment and leveraging your knowledge to eat and live better.
In 1700 the average citizen of Britain ate 4 pounds of sugar a year on average. Around the same time the average U.S. citizen ate around 2 pounds of sugar each year. Today the average Briton eats over 100 pounds of sugar per year and the average American eats around 152 pounds of sugar each year.
33% of adults worldwide have high blood pressure today compared to only 5% in 1900. Diabetes has almost doubled since 1980. Obesity levels in humans have risen around the world. All of these effects can be traced to sugar consumption. Increased sugar consumption is also shown to cause increase in the rate of dental cavities. Do you need more reasons to cut back on your sugar intake?
In order to take back your health not only must you reduce the known sugars you consume, but you also must watch for sugars hidden in processed foods you would not expect. We consume foods which we know to have sugars like candy bars, donuts, cakes, sodas, pies, pastries etc. If you think diet soda my be refuge think again, there are issues with diet sodas as well. How about processed foods with hidden sugars? Do you know which foods to avoid? Foods with hidden sugars include flavored yogurts, pasta sauces, canned soups, flavored waters, and many other ready to eat foods.
It may look like a no win situation but one can cut out the known sugar foods like donuts, sodas and the like since they are empty calories. If you need a caffeine boost look to plain coffee sweetened with some honey instead of soda. For snacking trying a banana rather than a donut. It may not be easy at first as sugar hits the pleasure centers in our brains like some drugs do. Take some time out ot analyze the foods you eat for the known and hidden sugars and work to cut back on those sugars so you can live a better, healthier life in the long run.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the human body. Many living creatures are able to make their own vitamin C internally through biological processes. The one notable exception is humans, we are not able to make vitamin C internally and therefore must obtain the vitamin through our diet. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to conditions such as scurvy (malaise, skin and gum issues) and atherosclerosis (thickening of artery walls).
Vitamin C has been shown to have anti-oxidant effects, meaning it has the potential to reduce oxidants which can cause certain cancers and other ailments in the body. Vitamin C is also used by the immune system to help fight infections. Vitamin C can also reduce the histamine response in our bodies when exposed to allergens. For those of us who are allergy sufferers, extra vitamin C can help us reduce the histamines that cause our aggravating symptoms. Vitamin C has also been shown to reduce the amounts of lead found in the blood.
The suggested daily intake of vitamin C by government food agencies range from a low minimum of 40 milligrams (United Kingdom) per day to 100 milligrams (Japan). The US defines the upper tolerable limit of vitamin C at 2,000 milligrams per day. During times of stress from illness or allergies one should make sure they get more than just the minimum recommended amounts to help our body. There is some research to indicate that getting more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is beneficial to the human body in many ways. So do yourself a favor and make sure you are getting sufficient vitamin C.
Many store made smoothies don’t often contain organic or natural ingredients. How can you be sure the smoothie you are drinking is free of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and other additives? Make it yourself.
If you have a decent strength blender (at least 800 watts) you can prepare ingredients ahead of time so your own custom home made smoothie is quick to make. Start by slicing up the fruits and vegetables you want to go into your smoothie and freezing them on a baking sheet. Once frozen store them in a freezer bag or air tight container in the freezer.
Frozen bananas can be used to add thickness to your smoothie as well as adding a good dose of healthy nutrients. Start off the blender with your liquid ingredients like water, juice, milk, or yogurt and any powdered ingredients (like turmeric). Next add in your lighter fruits and vegetables followed by your heaviest ingredients (ice, ice cream). All natural smoothies can provide a quick pick me up when you are looking from something tasty to snack on. Some recipes follow below:
Coconut mango smoothie
1 cup coconut milk
1 banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
1 mango, skinned and chunked
5 large strawberries, hulled
Blend together until thoroughly mixed and enjoy.
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
1 plum seed removed and chopped into 1-2″ chunks
1 peach seed removed and chopped into 1-2″ chunks
1 nectarine seed removed and chopped into 1-2″ chunks
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Blend together until smooth and enjoy.
1 apple of anytype (Pick an apple type you usually like to eat)
1 medium Banana
1 handful of fresh Kale washed and stems removed
1 1/2 cups of cold water
5-6 ice cubes
Blend together until smooth and enjoy.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published their 2014 list of the top dozen of dirtiest fruits and vegetables. The classify dirtiest produce based on amounts of trace pesticides found in or on those items. The 2014 list shows the dirty dozen and a also provides a list of the Clean 15 fruits and vegetables that have low amounts of pesticides. High on the list of dirty dozen produce items are apples, strawberries, grapes and celery. The EWG noted that the average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other foods.
We suggest you visit or revisit our Produce Cleaning blog post for some helpful tips on cleaning your produce before you eat them. Also try your hand out at growing your own organic fruits and vegetables, see this post about an organic pest control method. Eating healthy clean produce and getting a good amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet is a good way to reduce the impact pesticides can have on you and your loved ones.
Here is an easy to make banana bread recipe. You can serve it plain, with honey or jelly.
-3 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
-1 beaten egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
-1/2 cup brown sugar (or 1/2 cup honey)
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour (I use King Arthur’s brand)
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-Add optional 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans to add some crunch.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a bread pan with butter.
Mash the bananas then mix in the egg, vanilla, butter (or oil) and brown sugar (or honey). Separately mix together dry ingredients. Combine the dry and wet ingredients together and fold in the nuts if using them. Pour into your bread pan and cake for 50-60 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes or so. Slice, serve and enjoy.