Saturday, April 11, 2009

Benefits of Drinking Water

Water, we all agree that we need it.
Benefits of Drinking Water
  • All functions of the body require water.
  • These functions occur efficiently and quickly when we are properly hydrated.
  • Helps maintain proper metabolism
  • Essential for digesting food
  • Aids in ridding the body of toxic elements
  • Helps cushion the joints
  • Water is important in the blood and lymph fluid
  • Helps regulate body temperature
  • Helps prevent constipation
More benefits of drinking water
Drinking water - a help in losing weight

  • Slows the rate of emptying the stomach
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • In mild dehydration thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Drinking enough water can therefore mean eating less.
How much and when?
  • There are a lot of different opinions about how much and when we should drink water.
  • Those who live in hotter climates or do more physical exercise will need more water that those in cool climates or who do less exercise.
  • Some say that we need to drink water in little sips throughout the day. Others say we need to drink a glass at a time.
  • Some say it doesn't matter if you drink water with meals. Others say drink half an hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
  • Dr Batmanghelidj, who wrote "Your Body's Many Cries For Water", recommends two glasses of water first thing in the morning with a pinch of sea salt, a glass of water half an hour before each meal and another 2 glasses of water with a pinch of sea salt before going to bed.
Avoid dehydration

However you decide to drink your water, it is very important to make sure you are properly hydrated. Some say that if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. If you are thirsty have a drink.
In a person who is often under hydrated their thirst mechanism is not always reliable. They may be getting quite dehydrated before they feel thirsty.
Urine should be clear in colour. The darker the urine the more dehydrated the body. The exception to this is that some vitamins will cause the urine to be yellow coloured.

Another symptom of dehydration, especially for elderly people, is poor skin elasticity. If, when the skin is pinched, it holds its form rather than returning to its normal shape, dehydration is probable.

Dehydration can be serious if left untreated and in severe cases can lead to death.

If you want the benefits of drinking water. If you want your brain to work better, your digestion to be improved or your body to be more efficient in its processes, drink your water each day and avoid even mild dehydration.

Stay well hydrated


Friday, April 10, 2009

Minerals - A Part of A Healthy Diet Plan

If you thought there were a lot of different vitamins, wait till you see how many minerals are needed for good health. There are seven minerals that might be called macro minerals because we need larger amounts of them. The number of trace minerals is much larger. There are at least 30 that are known to be essential to life. So a healthy diet will require lots of mineral rich foods.

The way our body absorbs minerals and disperses them to do their jobs in the body is quite complicated. The simple story is that minerals are usually absorbed in ionic form. If they are not in that form when eaten then they are ionized in the gut.

Macro Minerals

Calcium is necessary for:
  • Strong bones and teeth
  • Heart and nervous system
  • Muscle growth
  • Keeps blood acid-alkaline balance right
  • Dairy products
  • Bone broth
Other Factors
  • Sufficient Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption
  • Sugar and stress pull calcium from the bones
  • Phytic acid in the bran of grains bind with calcium and other minerals making the minerals less available. - Solution - soaking, fermenting, sprouting or naturally leavening will get rid of the phytic acid and make the grains more digestible.
  • Distributed widely in the body in balance with sodium and potassium.
  • Regulates correct acid-alkaline balance in the blood
  • Needed in production of hydrochloric acid
  • Essential for proper growth and functioning of the brain
  • Activates production of enzymes needed for carbohydrate digestion
  • Salt
  • Lacto-fermented beverages
  • Bone broths
  • Celery
  • Coconut
Essential for at least 300 functions some of which are:
  • Enzyme activity
  • Calcium and potassium uptake
  • Nerve transmission
  • Bone formation
  • Metabolism of carbohydrates and minerals
  • Helps regulate acid-alkaline balance in the body
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Fish and sea foods
  • Meat
  • Beef, chicken or fish broth gives good usable magnesium
Even though it is found in many foods deficiencies are quite common. Some problems associated with magnesium deficiency include:
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Obesity
  • Fatigue
  • Epilepsy
  • Impaired brain function
  • Bone growth
  • Kidney function
  • Cell growth
  • Helps maintain acid-alkaline balance
It must be in balance with magnesium and calcium in the blood for it to be properly utilised.
  • Animal products
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Works with sodium
  • Important for many chemical reaction within the cells
  • Helpful in treating high blood pressure
  • Wide variety of nuts, grains and vegetables
Inadequate amount of fruit and vegetables can lead to a potassium deficiency

  • Needed for many biochemical processes
  • Water balance regulation
  • Fluid distribution
  • Muscle contraction and expansion
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Acid-alkaline balance
  • Proper functioning of adrenal glands
  • Proper balance between sodium and potassium essential
  • Meat broths
  • Zucchini
  • Is part of the chemical structure of several amino acids
  • Aids in many biochemical processes
  • Helps protect the body from infection
  • Blocks harmful effects of radiation and pollution
  • Slows the aging process
  • Sulphur containing proteins are the building blocks of cell membranes
  • Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Animal products
Trace Minerals

Only minute amounts of trace minerals are needed but they are essential for many biochemical processes. Here are a few examples of some trace minerals.

  • Needed for healthy bones
  • Found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains
  • Essential for glucose metabolism
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Synthesis of cholesterol, fats and protein
  • Found in animal products, molasses, nuts, eggs, vegetables
  • Works with copper to promote assimilation of iron.
  • Best sources - animal products
  • Needed for Bone formation
  • Hemoglobin and red blood cells
  • Collagen formation
  • Promotes healthy nerves
  • Healthy immune system
  • Memory and brain function
  • Found in nuts, molasses, oats and liver
Some other trace minerals are:
  • Germanium
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenium
  • Silicon
  • Vanadium
  • Zinc
This brief overview of minerals shows how important they are to our health and therefore to our healthy diet plan. Because minerals are absorbed in an ionic form, broth, stock or soups made from bones and vegetables are a very good, inexpensive source of absorbable minerals. With the knowledge of what our body needs for good health we are in a much better position to make a plan to truly have a healthy diet.

Be in good health


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Healthy Diets Must Include Vitamin Rich Foods

Vitamins are a lot more complex than most of us realise. Each vitamin is part of a complex of compounds rather than just a single component. For example there are at least 17 vitamins labeled B and they all work together. Vitamin D also has several components while vitamin P has at least 5.

The nutrients found in food varies according to the soil and farming method used to produce it. Some vitamins are heat sensitive, others are water soluble, some are fat soluble. Oxidation causes most vitamin loss in food.

Below is a brief look at some of the known vitamins.

Vitamin A - Fat Soluble
  • Catalyst on which many processes depend
  • Needed to utilise protein, minerals, other vitamins
  • Needed to digest protein
  • Antioxidant
  • Protects against pollutants and free radicals
  • Necessary in building strong bones
  • Needed for eyesight - formation of visual purple
Sources of preformed vitamin A (called retinol)
  • Butterfat
  • Egg yolks
  • Liver and other organ meats
  • Seafood
  • Fish liver oils
Sources of provitamin A or carotene
  • All yellow, red, orange or dark green fruits and vegetables.
Carotenes are converted in the body to vitamin A. This can only happen if all necessary conditions exist, one of which is the presence of fat in the diet. However, many people are not able to do the conversion. Therefore it is important to get some vitamin A from animal sources.

Vitamin B Complex - Water Soluble
  • They work together as a team to promote healthy:
  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Hair
  • Nerves
  • Liver
  • Muscle tone
  • Cardiovascular function
  • They protect us from:
  • Mental disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Whole grains - best source
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Seafood
  • Organ meats
  • Produced by intestinal bacteria
Vitamin C - Water Soluble
  • Necessary for tissue growth and repair
  • Strength of capillary walls
  • Lactation
  • Adrenal gland function
  • Formation of collagen, the body's structural substance
  • Promotes healing of wounds
  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Certain animal organs
Destroyed by
  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Many common drugs including aspirin
  • Smoking
Vitamin D
  • Needed for calcium and phosphorus absorption
  • Strong bones
  • Healthy teeth
  • Normal growth and brain development
  • Protects against cancer and multiple sclerosis
  • The body manufactures Vitamin D out of cholesterol in the presence of sunlight.
  • Butterfat
  • Eggs
  • Liver
  • Organ meats
  • Marine oils
  • Seafood - especially shrimp and crab
Vitamin E - Fat Soluble

  • Needed for circulation
  • Tissue repair and healing
  • Retard the aging process
  • Deactivation of free radicals
  • Works with some trace elements to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • Unrefined vegetable oils
  • Butter
  • Organ meats
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
Vitamin K - Fat Soluble

  • Needed for blood clotting
  • Important role in bone formation
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Butter
  • Grains
  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Cabbage family vegetables
Vitamin P (Bioflavonoids) - Water Soluble

  • Enhance absorption of Vitamin C
  • Promote healing
  • Protect the structure of blood capillaries
  • Stimulate bile production
  • Lower cholesterol levels,
  • Regulate menstrual flow
  • Help prevent cataracts
  • Has antibacterial effects
  • Peppers
  • Grapes
  • Buckwheat
  • White pith of citrus fruits
Co enzyme Q10 - Vitamin Q

  • Every cell needs it to produce energy
  • Antioxidant
  • Treatment of cardiovascular disease and periodontal problems
  • All animal products
There is much more data about vitamins than I have given here. It is easy to see how important it is to ensure that each of these vitamins are included in our healthy diet plan. They can be easily destroyed by storage, processing and cooking. Therefore it requires some thought and planning to be sure that we do indeed have a healthy diet that includes the necessary vitamins for good health.

Eat well


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fat Facts for a Healthy Diet

We must have some fats in our diet.

Role of Fat in Healthy Diets
  • Provides a concentrated source of energy

  • Provides the building blocks for cell membranes, hormones and hormone like substances

  • Slows down nutrient absorption - we can go longer without feeling hungry.

  • Act as carriers for the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K

  • Aids in converting carotene to Vitamin A

  • Assists in absorption of minerals

Different Types of Fats


  • Highly stable
  • Do not normally go rancid
  • Solid or semi solid at room temperature
  • Found in animal fats or tropical oils
  • Your body makes them from carbohydrates


  • Your body makes them out of saturated fatty acids
  • Liquid at room temperature
  • Relatively stable - do not go rancid easily
  • Most common type in our food is oleic acid
  • Found in olive oil, and oils from almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts and avocados

Polyunsaturated - Two Types

  • Omega 6 - linoleic acid
  • Omega 3 - linolenic acid
  • Called essential as your body cannot make them
  • Must obtain essential fatty acids (EFA) from food
  • Liquid even when refrigerated
  • Highly reactive
  • Go rancid easily
  • Never heat or use in cooking

Fatty acids are also classified according to their length. That is how many carbon atoms they have.

Short Chain

  • Always saturated
  • Found in butterfat
  • Have antimicrobial properties - protect us from viruses, yeasts and bacteria in the gut
  • Absorbed quickly for quick energy
  • Contribute to health of the immune system

Medium Chain Fatty Acids

  • Found in butterfat and tropical oils eg coconut oil
  • Have antimicrobial properties
  • Absorbed directly for quick energy so unlikely to cause weight gain
  • Contribute to health of immune system

Long Chain Fatty Acids

  • Can be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated
  • Many different types
  • Oleic acid in olive oil
  • Palmitoleic acid - in animal fats - strong antimicrobial properties
  • The two EFA's are long chain fatty acids
  • GLA found in evening primrose oil - used to produce prostaglandins which regulate many processes at the cellular level

Very Long Chain Fatty Acids

  • Highly unsaturated
  • Some, but not all people, can make them out of EFA's. Others must get them from food.
  • Organ meats, egg yolks, butter, fish oils
  • Used in body to produce prostaglandins
  • Important roles in function of the nervous system

That is a lot of different types of fats. They all have important roles to play in our health. It is good to eat a balance of all of the different types of fats.

Be aware that many oils sold in our supermarkets have been processed by extreme heat and solvents. This damages the fatty acids. Use expeller expressed, unrefined oils or extra virgin olive oil. Store these in the refrigerator. Virgin coconut oil is an excellent addition to a healthy diet and can be stored at room temperature as it is very stable.

There is much more that could be said about fats, enough for now to know a little about the different types and why we need to eat them.

Enjoy your food


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fiber as part of a Healthy Diet Plan

In looking at different nutrients and components of a healthy diet plan, fiber must be included, if we want to build good health.

Eating enough fiber can help to lower the risk of developing certain diseases.
These include:
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Diverticular disease - disease of the colon. Causes pain, diarrhea, constipation.
  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones

Two Types of Fiber

Fiber is actually carbohydrates that our enzymes are unable to break down. That means that instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted out of our body. That doesn't mean it is wasted. It is absolutely necessary. The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble.

Functions and Benefits of Insoluble Fiber

  • Moves bulk through the intestines
  • Controls and balances the ph in the intestines
  • Promotes regular bowel movement
  • Removes toxic waste through colon more quickly

Insoluble Fibre is found in:
  • Whole grains
  • Bran
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables - green beans, dark green leafy vegetables, skins of root vegetables
  • Fruit skins
  • Whole wheat products
  • Seeds
  • Nuts

Functions and Benefits of Soluble Fiber

  • Bind with fatty acids
  • Prolong time it takes for stomach to empty - sugar is released more slowly into the system
  • Lowers total cholesterol
  • Assists in the regulation of blood sugar

Soluble fiber is found in:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Flax seed

If you choose unrefined carbohydrates, rather than the processed, refined variety, a side benefit will be the inclusion plenty of fiber.
As you make your healthy diet plan, include a variety of foods with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Eat some unpeeled. Make sure that your fiber intake is spread out throughout the day to gain the most benefits.

Eat well


Monday, April 6, 2009

Carbohydrates as Part of Healthy Diets

Carbohydrates are used in our body to provide energy. They are broken down into glucose which goes throughout the body as energy is needed. Our brain and nervous system need this energy. If we did not eat carbohydrates the body would use some of the protein as an energy source.

Two Types of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates form part of most peoples diet. However, in order to have a healthy diet, we need to pick and choose which carbohydrates we eat. Many of the carbohydrate sources available to modern people have been very highly refined. This removes vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, fat and fiber that were originally in the food. In fact, in order to digest refined carbohydrates the body's store of vitamins, minerals and enzymes are used in order for them to be digested properly. Foods like this are often called empty calories.

Blood Sugar Levels

Eating refined sugar and starches, particularly when eaten without fats or protein, enter the blood stream quickly and cause a sudden increase in blood sugar levels. This in turn floods the body with insulin. Repeating this day after day causes a big drain on the body and can result in the diseases of diabetes and hypoglycemia.

Examples of simple or refined carbohydrates:

  • sugar
  • white flour and then the products made of it eg bread, cakes, other baked goods
  • white rice
  • syrup, high fructose corn syrup
  • candy bars
  • processed cereals

A healthy diet would include carbohydrates. However choosing unrefined, unprocessed carbohydrates will build health rather than destroy it.

Examples of complex or unrefined carbohydrates:

  • whole grains, wheat, brown rice, oats, barley, maize, buckwheat, corn
  • potatoes
  • other root vegetables
  • peas
  • beans
  • lentils
  • quinoa
  • amaranth
  • fruit
These lists are not intended to be complete but just to give the idea of the difference between refined/simple carbohydrates and unrefined/complex carbohydrates.

All of the foods in the unrefined/complex list also provide vitamins, minerals and other things necessary to provide a healthy diet.

There is much more that could be said about carbohydrates and how our body uses them. However, the most important thing is to know which kind is the most beneficial to eat.

Be in good health


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Healthy Diet Plan

Changes for Life

A healthy diet plan is something to work towards. For it to work, long term, it must evolve into something that you can stick to for life. The changes you make as you create your healthy diet plan will be more in the line of lifestyle changes, rather than short term diet measures. Your healthy diet plan must include a balance of foods to ensure that all the necessary nutrients are available.

Necessary Nutrients

Make sure that your healthy diet plan includes all the necessary nutrients. The main groups that these can be divided into are:
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Water

Healthy diets need to include protein because:
  • It is used for growth and repairs in the body.
  • Helps nutrients move to and from the cells of the body.
  • Necessary for healthy hair, skin and nails
  • Important for muscle development
  • A source of energy
  • Necessary to help to fight disease

Good Sources of Protein for Healthy Diets
  • Fish, meat, chicken
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah)
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Peas and beans
  • Rice

Protein sources such as peas, beans and rice do not contain all of the essential amino acids by themselves. As such, unless they are combined with another source, the protein cannot be used for growth or repair of tissues.

Combining Non Meat Proteins for Healthy Diets

Combining grains and legumes results in a complete protein. That is, all of the animo acids that our body cannot make itself are in the combination.

Examples of grains:
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Barley

Examples of legumes:

  • Beans
  • Lentils,
  • Peanuts
  • Peas
Combining grains with nuts or seeds also results in a complete protein.

Examples of nuts and seeds are:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts

Combining legumes with nuts or seeds is another combination that provides a complete protein. Using these combinations can help you devise a healthy diet plan that will assist in getting the protein needed for good health.

Quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are seeds that are often used as grains. They are also classed as complete proteins.

Quinoa is an ancient crop that has been cultivated in South America since 3000 BC. It contains all 8 of the essential animo acids. Use it in the same way you would use rice. It makes very tasty pilaf type dishes.

Amaranth, as well as being a complete protein, contains 15-18% protein. It also provides dietary fibre, iron, phosphorus, copper and manganese. It is high in calcium, magnesium and silicon. The seeds can be cooked and used in the same way as rice. The seeds are often ground and sold as flour that can be used in baking. Puffed amaranth is a quick, tasty breakfast cereal.

Buckwheat, which is not related to wheat in any way, contains 18% protein. Research has shown that the protein in buckwheat helps to control cholesterol levels. There are many other health benefits to using buckwheat such as better blood sugar control. Buckwheat flour is delicious in breads and pancakes. Buckwheat groats are something to experiment with as you make your healthy diet plan.

Perhaps some of the foods listed in this discussion on protein, as part of your healthy diet plan, are new to you. Try some new tastes, experiment with new recipes. If you have some great ideas that have contributed to your healthy diet plan, share them with us by leaving a comment.

Be in good health