Friday, January 25, 2019

Tacos, Re-Imagined

Need a quick dinner tonight? Tacos are always a crowd-pleaser. But, they are not always the best dietary choice. I'll try to put a healthier spin on this weeknight favorite.


Mass-produced shells or tortillas
Usually made from refined white flour, they offer few nutrients. They also tend to include hydrogenated oils.

Try
The ingredient list for fresh, soft corn tortillas should be limited to corn (masa), water, lime & salt. These tortillas will give you twice as much fiber and anti-oxidants, including lutein. OR, skip the tortillas and build a taco bowl with fresh shredded greens.

Grain-fed ground beef
Cows fed on a diet of grains produce meat high in inflammatory omega-six fatty acids. Feedlot cows are also given growth hormones and antibiotics, which can disrupt human health.

Try
Grass-fed ground beef or steak, chicken thighs, or salmon are good options. Scrambled eggs can give a breakfast vibe. Crumbled tempeh or canned black beans are vegetarian choices.

Spice-packets
Packet seasonings typically feature lots of additives, preservatives, salt and sugar.

Try
Make a spice blend using your own cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and dried oregano. Create a meat marinade with lime juice, garlic and cilantro. 

Pre-shredded cheese
Avoid the added cellulose - wood pulp - added as a caking agent and shred your own.

Try 
Top with fresh avocado or guacamole for healthy fat. Add some belly-friendly plain Greek yogurt for an extra dab of protein.


Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Nutrition-Rich Tacos This Week

Friday, January 18, 2019

Sweep Away Stress Granules #3

Most of us agree that stress has a physical affect on our bodies. New research has revealed that our cells release substances called stress granules which can greatly affect our health. My blog post from January 4th discusses the physical process of how they are created. Last week, I shared two tools to help prevent the buildup of stress granules. This week I share two more:

Choose Color
As a part of their normal process of generating energy, our cells release free radicals - harmful, unstable molecules that create oxidative stress. This can lead to a pileup of stress granules. Anti-oxidants in brightly colored vegetables can prevent and reverse oxidative stress. Fill 70% of your plate with vegetables and aim to include different colors at each meal. Dark leafy greens, red peppers, yams, broccoli. Include colorful seasonal fruit - apples in the fall, citrus in the winter, berries in the spring and stone fruits in the summer.


Clean the Air
Early research indicates there may be a link between environmental toxins and stress granules. So far, lead and mercury have been implicated, but there are likely others, so it's smart to reduce your exposure to pollution. Concentrate on what's inside your home, since indoor air can be just as polluted as outdoor air. A recent study found that volatile chemical products - pesticides, furniture coatings, cleaning agents and personal care products - now rival transportation as the top sources of pollution in cities. Consider investing in a good air purifier.


Side note about outdoor air: You can stop worrying about the exhaust fumes you encounter when you run, bike or walk outside. Turns out, you'd have to cycle outdoors for up to seven hours a day for those negative consequences to add up, according to research from the University of Cambridge.

Get rid of stress granules before they accumulate and cause harm. 
Be aware of indoor air quality and fill your meals with vegetables of all colors. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food


Friday, January 11, 2019

Sweep Away Stress Granules #2

Most of us agree that stress has a physical affect on our bodies. New research has revealed that our cells release substances called stress granules which can greatly affect our health. Check out last week's blog post to find out how the process works.

Here are two potent tools for preventing the buildup of stress granules:

30X5
Exercise brings more blood to the brain and has many positive effects that help prevent the accumulation of stress granules. It increases the delivery of nutrients, oxygen, and healthy growth factors to your neurons and it speeds the removal of toxins from the brain. Neurological experts still don't know the best exercise for the brain but they found that people who did at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week were less likely to have a build-up of damaging proteins - the ones that research has associated with stress granules.

Plaque Attack
Keeping your gums healthy is a surprisingly effective weapon against stress granules. One source of stress for the body comes from dental plaque and gingivitis. They create inflammation, sending molecules called cytocines through your system, hurting the cells. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily and visit the dentist two times a year. Between meals, you can chew sugar-free gum. Some have a sweetener called xylitol, which may lower your risk of cavities.

Check back next week for two more tools to combat the buildup of stress granules. 

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, January 4, 2019

Sweep Away Stress Granules #1

Most of us agree that stress has a physical affect on our bodies. New research has revealed that our cells release substances called stress granules that can greatly affect our health.

It starts when something stresses you: air pollution, or a virus, or your boss. Your cells launch into repair-and-recovery mode. As part of that process, the body produces proteins that help rebuild your cells and RNA, the chemical messengers that trigger the release of health-promoting compounds. These RNA agents carry out the repair process by clumping together, forming stress granules.

When they do their job properly, these particles protect the cells from damage, essentially creating a temporary shelter so the body can better repair itself. Once the stressor is gone, the stress granules are easily swept away, typically in just 10-15 minutes.

Normal cell on left. Cell with stress granules (in yellow) on right.

But when something interferes with the cleanup operation, stress granules accumulate. That build-up may be linked to Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists don't know for sure why the cleanup operation is aborted. Suspects include nutritional deficiencies, chronic disease, or living in a heavily polluted area.

On-going stress is another potential suspect. When you're under pressure, your body releases hormones called glucocorticoids. One theory is that constant exposure to high levels of these hormones can result in stress granules accumulating, which leads to the neuronal atrophy and degeneration that's characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
Stress Granules and toxic Tau Tangles

The bottom line: You need to get rid of these particles before they cause harm. Check back next week for strategies to combat stress.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food