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Healthy Alternatives to Wheat

Wheat  today is not the same as many decades ago and today’s wheat was probably the first GMO food. Although it is regarded as a staple food along with rice there are many health issues where the culprit appears to be wheat based. Intolerance to wheat products seems to be on the increase and many people are seeking alternatives. Gluten, which is derived from wheat, barley and oats appears to be affecting more and more people world wide and even when wheat products are advertised as gluten free there are concerns, as in many cases the gluten is replaced with sugar to give back some taste to the wheat flour. There are many healthier alternatives to wheat as this article shows and although some are not readily available in many shops they can be found without too much difficulty.

Amaranth

Amaranth is a good source of both carbohydrates and fibre. A 1-cup serving of the cooked grain contains 46 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fibre. The fibre in the amaranth can also help with weight control as it increases satiety and helps control hunger. Eating more than 14 grams of fibre a day can help you decrease your daily calorie intake by 10 per cent, according to an article in the journal “Nutrition Review.” For better health, women should aim for 25 grams of fibre a day, while men should get 38 grams. For those over 50, the daily need for fibre is 21 grams for women, and 30 grams for men. One cup of cooked amaranth contains 9 grams of protein. Unlike other grains, amaranth is a complete source of protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids — just as meats and poultry do. Protein in foods like amaranth is necessary to help your body build and maintain the proteins found in your cells, muscles and organs

As a whole grain, the amaranth retains its germ, which is a source of healthy unsaturated fats, including the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A 1-cup serving of cooked amaranth contains 4 grams of total fat. Replacing your saturated fat foods, such as red meat and butter, with foods rich in unsaturated fats like those found in amaranth might help lower cholesterol levels.
Amaranth is a good source of a number of essential vitamins and minerals that you need for good health, including B vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc. The B vitamins help your body turn the food you eat into energy, as well as make blood cells. As a good source of calcium, amaranth helps keep your bones and teeth healthy and strong. The iron in the grain assists with the transportation of oxygen throughout your body, and the zinc helps your body heal cuts.

Breadfruit Flour

According to a study from the University of British Columbia, breadfruit contains “a full spectrum of the essential amino acids and are especially rich in phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine and valine. Another nutrient group important to disease prevention are antioxidants. Found in a wide variety of foods, antioxidants prevent and reverse oxidative stress, the damage caused by free radicals to body functions. Free radicals, in addition to being a natural by- product of food consumption can be introduced into the body through over exposure to sunlight, chemicals found in the environment and various other sources, but a diet full of high powered antioxidants can slow and even reverse the damage caused by free radicals.

One research study in the spring of 2016 focused specifically on the antioxidant activity of breadfruit as it relates to the toxicity of cadmium, a common environmental toxin and endocrine disruptor. This particular study investigated the effect of cadmium on alterations in sperm count and activity and found that the tested methanol extract of breadfruit caused significant improvement in sperm count, motility (movement) and hormone levels. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant found in breadfruit. Individuals who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables containing a lot of vitamin C have a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as an extended life span compared to those who do not have a high dietary intake of vitamin C

Due in part to its antioxidant content, in addition to other factors, breadfruit is also great for your heart. It’s been found to contain phytochemicals (chemicals from plants) that protect the heart against atherosclerosis, a heart disease characterized by slowly building pockets of white blood cells in artery walls causing them to thicken. Eventually, atherosclerosis can lead to a blockage of the blood supply to the heart resulting in a heart attack. In 2006, breadfruit was termed as a good prospect to use in medicinal protection against this very common disease. Another way it’s beneficial to your heart is by its ability to combat high cholesterol. Breadfruit is also incredibly high in fibre, offering nearly half the daily recommended intake in just one serving. A high fibre diet is associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, (hypertension) and other diseases associated with the heart..
Breadfruit also contains a fairly large quantity of thiamine, aka vitamin B1. Thiamine helps maintain muscle tone along the walls of the digestive tract, where the majority of the immune system is located. It also assists in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, helping your body fully digest food and absorb the highest amount of nutrients possible. Together, these features make thiamine a valuable nutrient in maintaining a healthy immune system.

Because breadfruit has some incredible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it has been researched as a potential cancer fighting food. A Taiwan study found it to have significant potential in the fight against skin cancer and an extract from this fruit, applied directly to the skin, decreased the number, size and malignancy of skin tumours. Another cancer that may be fought by the powerful nutrients in breadfruit is pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer operates differently from many other types of cancer because it is not as susceptible to “nutrient starvation” as other cancers often are. This means that the cancer drugs that are commonly prescribed to starve cancer cells of nutrients are even less effective than usual against cancer of the pancreas.
Therefore, when studying possible treatments for pancreatic cancer, scientists must focus on things that can kill these cancer cells and prevent them from pulling nutrients from nearby vessels and cells. In 2014, a pilot study investigating the impact of an extract from the leaves of the breadfruit tree found that the chemical compound had 100 per cent “preferential cytoxicity” against human pancreatic cancer cells known as PANC-1 under nutrient-deprived conditions. This means that the extract successfully killed 100 per cent of the pancreatic cancer cells when subjected to a nutrient-deprived environment, which normally would have little to no effect on these cells.

Another study in Asia published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine studied the effect of an extract from the breadfruit plant on liver cancer cells. The findings were also fascinating, as researchers discovered that the extract did not cause traditional apoptosis (programmed cell death) that’s often seen in anticancer nutrients and pharmaceuticals. Instead, when exposed to the breadfruit extract, the liver cancer cells underwent autophagic death. This alternative method of cell death occurs naturally in the body as it processes proteins and breaks down damaged cells and is a more effective method of stopping cancer in certain cases.
For the purposes of cooking or stewing, mature but unripe fruits are preferred. As breadfruit continues to ripen after picked, you can choose when to eat it at its ripest, which is when it gives to thumb pressure. This fruit should never be refrigerated because it can undergo chilling injury at temperatures below 12 Fahrenheit.

Many fans of breadfruit know that it can be used in a huge variety of ways. You can eat it ripe, which may give a taste similar to custard apples. It may also be stewed, fried, baked, broiled or powdered. Generally, you should peel the outer skin, then split the fruit into quarter slices before discarding the central core, after which you can cut it into the appropriate size for whatever dish you plant to prepare. When baked, the taste is more closely related to freshly baked bread (which is how it earned its name).
Breadfruit has incredible potential in many areas, including the creation of a much better-tasting gluten free flour than many other food products.

Cassava Flour

Similar to those mentioned above cassava flour is gluten free. People with celiac disease can readily consume starch or flour from cassava because of this. So they can still enjoy bread or cake made from cassava flour or other savoury dishes which may need flour to thicken the gravy.

The fibre in cassava flour slows down the process of absorption of sugar into the bloodstream thus reducing the spike that would occur from the ingestion of simple carbohydrates. Good news for those suffering from diabetes. Cassava contains some antioxidants which play very important roles in reducing the risk of cancer. These include vitamin C, beta carotene and saponins. These antioxidants are known to help protect your cells from damage by free radicals and repair broken DNA. A study by scientists from Tianjin University found that saponins, which are derived from by plants, may help prevent cancer. Potassium plays a very important role in the reduction of blood pressure and the regulation of heart rate and cassava is very high in this mineral.

Chickpea Flour

Anyone who has gone on a diet knows that hunger pangs can weaken even the strongest willpower. The challenge is to lower your caloric intake without starving yourself. Enter chickpeas. 1 cup contains just 269 calories, but half your daily value of fibre and 30% of your protein, both of which monitor the insulin that causes your body to store fat. So eat a cup of chickpeas for lunch and you will feel full until dinner. That’s why one study found that participants who snacked on chickpeas reported greater levels of satisfaction and ate less snack food in-between meals.

Just 2 cups of chickpeas contain your entire daily value of dietary fibre. Better yet, they are full of both soluble and insoluble fibre, the latter of which helps lower LDL cholesterol. One study even found that chickpeas lowered cholesterol levels even more than other foods with comparable levels of fibre. Fibre helps keep your digestive system working. It is the part of plants that do not dissolve. That’s why doctors suggest 40% of your diet come from fibre-rich foods, which definitely includes chickpeas. Unfortunately, more and more people struggle with type 2 diabetes. If you are one of the millions of people across the world who need to regulate blood sugar, incorporate legumes like chickpeas into your diet. Doctors recommend starchy legumes and vegetables for their phytochemicals and fibre. Chickpeas digest slowly without spiking blood sugar and lower haemoglobin A1C levels. The protein in chickpeas also helps with nervous system health. Protein amino acids affect neurotransmitters in the brain and help them function properly.

Chickpeas are an important source of selenium, a mineral that supports liver enzyme function and detoxifies cancer-causing compounds from the body. Selenium is also very important for good prostate health. Chickpeas are also a source of folate, which helps in formation of cancer preventing cells in the body.

Coconut Flour
Coconut flour’s biggest attraction is its gluten-free status, meaning it contains none of the gluten protein molecules found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is highly allergenic and can even be deadly for people with Celiac disease (a condition where gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients in food). However, growing evidence – particularly that compiled by Dr. William Davis in his 2011 book, Wheat Belly – suggests that gluten is unhealthy for everyone, and is a leading cause of lethargy, bloating, brain fog and more. Fortunately, gluten-free diets are becoming much easier to adopt thanks to the growing availability of gluten-free flours like coconut flour and others mentioned in this article.

A study published in the December 2006 suggests that adding coconut flour to your diets can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease, lower your cholesterol levels and guard you from cancer and diabetes. The researchers, based in the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in the Philippines, claim that these benefits stem from coconut flour’s unusually high levels of dietary fibre, almost, double that of wheat bran.

Since it is derived from the flesh of the coconut, coconut flour retains a large number of the fats for which coconuts are so beloved by health enthusiasts. A 100 gram serving of coconut flour contains 8.7 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are saturated. Most of these fats are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) – essential protective fats with noted anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. MCTs have also been shown to boost the metabolism, making coconut flour suitable for weight loss diets. Because it is high in fibre yet relatively low in digestible carbohydrates compared to processed flours, coconut flour has a gentle impact on blood sugar levels. This makes it an excellent flour for diabetics, pre-diabetics and anyone else who wants to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Though it is free from gluten proteins, coconut flour contains an impressive number of other proteins. In fact, 100 grams of coconut flour contain 19.3 grams of protein or 38 per cent of our RDI (recommended daily intake) far more protein per serving than other leading flours such as wheat, cornmeal or rye. Consequently, coconut flour is a valuable cooking ingredient for vegan or vegetarian. One downside of coconut flour is that on its own it does not bind and needs the addition of some other flour such as millet, cassava, barley, teff or eggs. Coconut flour also absorbs copious amounts of oil or water.

Fonio
Fonio is one of the preeminent African super foods and holds an honoured place in West African, and particularly Sahel, culture. Nutritionally, it rivals the Ethiopian grain teff. There are two types, white and black but both are actually a type of millet. White fonio is grown in the Sahel area that borders the Sahara Desert, and it does well in dry and grassy savannah as well as in richer climates. Black fonio is found in Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo and is less common and more nutritious. Although fonio is found all over West Africa, it is especially prized in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea and Senegal and the Akposso region of Togo and Central Nigeria.

The fonio plant is fast-growing and can mature from seed to harvest in only 6-8 weeks. It doesn’t need a lot or water or rich soil, which makes it a good crop for soil-depleted and dry land areas that border the Sahel. After they are mature, fonio’s tiny grains must be dried and removed from their husk before they are ready to cook. Before machines did this, the fonio was de-husked with a mortar and pestle, where the grains were pounded. Fonio could also be slowly toasted in a large pan until it popped out of its husk, and then pounded to separate the grain from its covering. Fonio is becoming increasingly popular as a gluten free, nutritious grain that can be used in cooking and baking. It has been an important crop in some parts of Africa because it is highly nutritious, it grows very quickly and it can be grown on land where other cereal crops won’t grow. Even though fonio is highly nutritious and is now gaining a reputation as a superfood, up until recently, it had been very difficult to mass produce because, the grain is so small it was too difficult to remove the husk. Now, however, modern technology has found a way, and the grain that is known as “The Hungry Rice” is now far more readily available. Fonio has more nutritional value than most other grains and is rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc. Here are ten.

The essential amino acids that fonio contains, especially cystine and methionine, help to detoxify the liver and the body. They help the liver to function properly and remove unwanted toxins from the bloodstream. Early studies have suggested that eating fonio could help prevent liver disease and colon cancer. Fonio is often recommended in Africa as a food for pregnant women. It has a high concentration of iron, so it helps to stop anaemia developing, and it also contains folic acid and other amino acids that are beneficial for women during pregnancy.

Fonio has a beloved place on West African plates. It is so full of protein that it even has amino acids that other grains don’t, making it a much more complete protein source. Fonio is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese, and has more of these nutrients, serving-per-serving, than other grains It is also very high in fibre, which makes it a good carbohydrate as it releases its sugar slowly into the blood stream, making for consistent, high energy over a longer period of time.

Green Banana Flour

Because the young bananas are picked before they ripen, their sugar content never fully develops, so they’re lower in natural sugars than when they are ripe. Also, unlike other starchy ingredients such as pasta and white bread – which are rapidly digested, get absorbed as glucose into the bloodstream, and spike up insulin levels – the resistant starch in green bananas slows the release of food through the gut. This slows the insulin response and prevents that sugar spike and consequent sugar crash. Resistant starch is not just any fibre, but prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics support the good bacteria present in the gut, bowel, and colon and are far more powerful and beneficial for our bellies than probiotics as they act as a fertilizer for existing good flora, helping them to grow and work more effectively. This can help with everything from poor digestion to IBS, and it can even help you get a flatter stomach.

Lower in calories than most wheat flours and alternatives like oat and almond flour, it’s an excellent choice for those watching their waistlines. Because of its fibre content, it keeps you feeling fuller for longer, making you less likely to reach for that packet of biscuits an hour after lunch. It is also great for those suffering with diabetes for this very reason. High in essential minerals and vitamins including zinc, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, green-banana flour is also abundant in potassium – so much so that just two tablespoons contain the same amount as seven whole bananas! It also helps lower cholesterol, boosts heart health, and aids nerve and muscle activity. So if you’re gluten-intolerant, hooray! Green-banana flour is also grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free, making it perfect for vegans.

Millet

Millet is quite similar to wheat when it comes to the structure of its protein. The one glaring exception is that millet is a non -gluten grain. Wheat contains copious amount of this hard to digest plant protein. When plain millet flour is used for baking bread the resulting loaf is light, white, and quite similar in texture to wheat bread. As a result, people who wish to avoid gluten tend to immediately gravitate to millet bread as the most logical and palatable substitute.

While millet may not contain gluten, it does contain goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances in food that suppress thyroid activity and can lead to goiter, an enlargement of this very important gland which resides in the throat. Low iodine intake can also lead to goitre.
Hypothyroidism, is a serious and sometimes debilitating condition that accompanies a weak, under active or enlarged thyroid such as what occurs with goiter. Depression, difficulty losing weight, loss of hair, cold hands/feet, and fatigue are common hypothyroid symptoms. While the goitrogens in foods that contain them are usually reduced by cooking (such as cruciferous vegetables), cooking actually increases the goitrogenic effect of millet! Therefore, when folks begin eating large amounts of millet bread with a wholesale switch over from wheat, the goitrogenic effects of this simple dietary change can be profound. So go easy on the millet.

Despite this side effect millet has many health benefits. It is one of the few grains that alkalize the body. It also hydrates the colon, decreases triglycerides, is low on the glycaemic index and contains magnesium, is a pre-biotic (food for good gut bacteria) and contains serotonin which contributes to your “feel good” mood.

Sorghum/guinea corn

Because it’s gluten-free, sorghum grains offer a safe alternative to wheat if you follow a gluten-free diet. One nutritional highlight of guinea corn is its mineral content. A 1/4 cup serving contains 13 milligrams of calcium, 2.1 milligrams of iron, 138 milligrams of phosphorus and 168 milligrams of potassium. Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals needed for bone health and strength. Adequate intakes of iron support the transportation of oxygen in your body, and help promote cell growth and development.

Potassium helps maintain fluid balance, and high intakes improve blood pressure. Guinea corn contains about the same and sometimes more protein than many other grains. However, the protein is not as readily absorbed because each protein in the grain is surrounded by a tough protein wall that requires more time to digest. About 46 per cent of the protein in the guinea corn is absorbed. Sorghum/guinea corn is full of fibre, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese. It lowers cholesterol, is good for diabetics and according to the University of Missouri it can inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours. It is also said to prevent blood platelets from clumping together by containing a compound called policosanol.

Teff

Teff, which is grown in Ethiopia and used to make injera, the sourdough flatbread, is a small grain with a long list of health benefits. Teff is a gluten-free grain so it can be a great alternative for those living with celiac disease or crohn’s disease, having gluten intolerance or choosing a gluten-free lifestyle.

Along with being gluten-free, high in iron and super tasty, teff has also recently been recognized as a new super-food and in some cases is referred to as the new quinoa. Teff is also known to help with weight reduction and assists with PMS. It is also ideal for vegetarians looking for sources of non-dairy protein. But one thing to bear in mind is that this super grain is not cheap. Teff is high in protein with a great combination of eight essential amino acids needed for the body’s growth and repair. It has high amounts of calcium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, thiamin, and vitamin C, which is not normally found in grains. The iron from teff is easily absorbed and is also recommended for people with low blood iron levels.

If you are diabetic, you might want to consider adding teff to your diet to control blood sugar levels. Teff contains approximately 20 to 40 per cent resistant starches and has a relatively low glycemic index that can help diabetics better regulate their sugar levels. The fibre content in this tiny little grain can help you regulate your bowel movements and keep you feeling fuller longer. Naturally, this grain is very low in saturated fat.

Because it is low in sodiumTeff is also great for those seeking to lower their blood pressure and maintain a heart healthy diet. Unprocessed teff is a better alternative compared with pre-processed, cooked teff which often comes with preservatives or additives that are high in sodium. If you’re worried, always double check nutritional labels. Part of eating a nutritionally adequate diet is being able to incorporate superfoods like teff into all of your meals. Teff is a versatile grain and can be eaten whole, steamed, boiled or baked. Nowadays, teff is found in a variety of products like pancakes, breads, cereals, snack bars and many other foods. Traditionally, it is used to make Ethiopian injera (sourdough bread). Looking very much like poppy seeds, teff has a nutty, grainy taste and texture that can add dimension to your recipes and cooking. Most Ethiopian platters are served on injera bread.

Quinoa Flour

Quinoa, pronounced “keen wah” is one of the world’s most popular health foods. It is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fibre, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various antioxidants. The Incas referred to it as the “mother of all grains” and believed it to be sacred.
These days, you can find quinoa and products made with it all over the world, especially in health food stores and restaurants that emphasize natural food. It is non-GMO, gluten free and is usually grown organically. Technically, quinoa is not a grain but is generally regarded as such. It is high in fibre. One study that looked at 4 varieties of quinoa found a range of between 10 and 16 grams of fibre, per every 100 grams. This equals 17-27 grams per cup, which is very high, more than twice as high as most grains. Boiled quinoa contains much less fibre gram for gram, because it absorbs so much water. Most of the fibre is insoluble fibre, which brings different health benefits to the body from soluble fibre.

The health effects of real foods go way beyond the vitamins and minerals we’re all familiar with. There are thousands of trace nutrients in there, some of which are extremely healthy. This includes interesting molecules called flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health. Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are quercetin and kaempferol, and they happen to be found in large amounts in quinoa. In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries.These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies. There are numerous studies showing that soluble fibre can help reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, increase fullness and help with weight loss. Quinoa is much higher in fibre than most grains, with one source finding 17-27 grams of fibre per cup. Studies have shown that by using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free ingredients like refined tapioca, potato, corn and rice flour, it can dramatically increase the nutrient and antioxidant value of the diet.

Protein is made out of amino acids. Some of them are termed “essential” because we cannot produce them and need to get them from the diet. If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it is seen as a “complete” protein.The problem is that many plant foods are deficient in certain essential amino acids, such as lysine.However, quinoa is an exception to this, because it contains all the essential amino acids. For this reason, it is an excellent source of protein. It has both more and better protein than most grains. With 8 grams of quality protein per cup, quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

The glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. It is known that eating foods that are high on the glycaemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity Such foods have also been linked to many of the chronic, Western diseases that are so common today, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Quinoa has a glycaemic index of 53, which is considered low. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it is still pretty high in carbs, so it is not a good choice for a low carbohydrate diet. There are many nutrients in the modern diet that people tend to be lacking in. This is particularly true of some minerals, especially magnesium, potassium, zinc and (for women) iron. Interestingly, quinoa is very high in all 4 minerals. It is particularly high in magnesium with one cup having about 30% of the RDA. The problem is that it also contains a substance called phytic acid, which can bind these minerals and reduce their absorption. However, by soaking and/or sprouting the quinoa before cooking it, you can reduce the phytic acid content and make these minerals more bioavailable. Quinoa is also pretty high in oxalates, which reduce the absorption of calcium and can cause problems for certain individuals with recurring kidney stones.

A human study found that using quinoa instead of typical gluten-free breads and pastas significantly reduced blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. A study on rats found that adding quinoa to a diet high in fructose almost completely inhibited the negative effects of fructose. Quinoa also happens to be very high in antioxidants which neutralize free radicals and help fight aging and many diseases. Allowing the seeds to sprout seems to increase the antioxidant content even further In order to lose weight we need to take in fewer calories than we burn. It is known that certain properties of foods can facilitate this process, either by boosting metabolism (increasing calories out) or reducing appetite (lowering calories in). Quinoa has several such properties. The last one is not a health benefit, but still incredibly important. It is also tasty and goes well with many foods. Depending on the type of quinoa, it can be important to rinse it with water in order to get rid of saponins, which are found on the outer layer and can have a bitter flavour. It should now have absorbed most of the water and gotten a fluffy look. If done right, it should have a mild, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch.

Now that you know what a wide alternative choice there is to wheat flour, you can try some of them to find out which ones best suit your needs by way of taste and health benefits. You may have to shop around a bit or even go on line to get some of them but your health is worth it, isn’t it?

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are not intended to replace a one to one relationship with your health practitioner nor are they meant as medical advice. You are encouraged to do your own research and make your own decisions in partnership with your medical practitioner.

Black is Beautiful Powerful and Healthy

Green vegetables have long been hailed as the go-to food for good health but dark fruits, vegetables, and grains are nutritional powerhouses too. Their colour comes from anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that may help lower the risks of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. For various reasons they have not been promoted as much as green vegetables. What makes foods black is anthocyanin, an antioxidant flavanoid pigment, which has been linked to reducing cancer cell proliferation and improving visual acuity. In fact, black foods not only have more antioxidants than light-coloured foods but these antioxidants are also more powerful and as a consequence offer greater health benefits because of their high pigment content, In eastern healing philosophies, black foods have long been used to encourage wellness. Chinese medicine believes that black foods correspond with the water element and nourish the kidneys — helping the body to stay energetic and warm, and the mind harmonious. Black beans, rice and sesame are the traditional foods eaten during cold winter months. ……..here is a list of some black foods and their recognized health benefits.

Black chicken

The Silkie (sometimes spelled Silky) is a breed of chicken named for its fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk, and satin. The breed has several other unusual qualities, such as black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot, whereas most chickens only have four. They also come in a variety of colours, such as white, blue and light brown . Reports suggest that whilst their appearance may be unusual, the taste is second to none and will be a sublime addition to any home-cooked recipes. Apparently the  flesh  has a similar taste to that of game birds rather than that of regular chicken. Imagine some black chicken with black beans and black rice washed down with black grape juice.

Black Rice
Brown rice is good for you, but black rice is even better. That’s because the bran hull contains significantly higher amounts of vitamin E, which bolsters the immune system and protects cells from free radical damage. In fact, black rice contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries, according to a study from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Centre. . An extract from the rice has been shown to effectively reduce breast cancer cells. It is rich in vitamins B and E, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc as well. Black rice was so valued and rare in days past that emperors even declared it ‘forbidden’ to the common people.

Black cumin seed

This powerful seed, which goes by many other names such as Roman coriander, onion seed, black sesame, black caraway and simply black cumin kills MRSA, treats the body when chemical poisoning occurs, stimulates regeneration of dying beta cells within the diabetic’s pancreas, treats type 2 diabetes, improves liver function, epilepsy, high blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and helps decrease body fat.

Black grapes

Research has shown that black grapes can contain up to 600mg anthocyanins, which is 100mg more than berries according to a study cited in the American Journal of Nutrition. Black grape’s greatness lies in their skins -the stronger the colour, the higher the concentration of flavonoids and therefore, the more antioxidants they contain. They have been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease and help protect against DNA damage that ages skin.

Black radish

Consumption of black radish is very effective in curing all sorts of skin disorders. In fact, black radish has an ability to treat skin itchiness, allergies, skin ulceration and body odour without any side effects . Regular consumption of black radish gives better result in clearing spots and acne within a few days. Black radish is also a perfect medicine for improving the functioning of the kidneys.

Black Beans

The dark skins of these beans are packed with bio-flavonoids — potent plant-based nutrients that may protect against cancer. Black beans contain cancer fighting antioxidants and anthocyanin along with butyric acid. Remember that anthocyanins destroy cancer cells and block the creation of blood vessels that feed tumours. High in fibre, black beans also help reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 75 per cent.

Black Lentils

Black lentils are loaded with iron: One cup has about 8 milligrams, getting you almost halfway to the daily requirement of 18 milligrams for women. Lentils also boast high levels of soluble fibre, which may not only lower your cholesterol, but could also improve immune function. Lentils are a protein super-food and also help with weight loss.
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Blackberries

Polyphenols found in dark berries may help reduce cognitive decline in older people by cleaning up cells that impair brain function. Blackberries are also high in fibre . As one of the most antioxidant-rich foods, blackberries are a sweet addition to any diet and can be added to a hot bowl of porridge when eating to control diabetes. Overflowing in nutrients like vitamins C and K, folic acid, manganese, polyphenols, minerals and fibre, blackberries are an outstanding super-food. By reducing brain cell inflammation, these compounds enhance communication between the neurons, thereby improving memory and information processing.

Black Tea

Green and white teas get all the health hype, but black tea has its perks, too. It contains theaflavins — antioxidants that a study from Rutgers University in New Jersey suggests may improve recovery from muscle soreness after intense exercise. Drinking black tea may also lower your risk of having a stroke. It also prevents constipation, improves the complexion and slows down the aging process, normalizes blood pressure, improves memory, averts anaemia, maintains lustrous hair and fortifies the liver. Black tea is best drunk with  lemon juice.

Chia

Once used by the ancient Aztec’s for stamina in battle, chia seeds are a terrific superfood for modern day warriors. Full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, chia keeps energy levels up, inflammation and disease down. Omega-3 fats also foster a sharp mind.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are not intended to replace a one to one relationship with your health practitioner nor are they meant as medical advice. You are encouraged to do your own research and make your own decisions in partnership with your medical practitioner.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It’s not known exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role, some of which are stress, improper digestion, and poor dietary habits. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum, somewhat like a Mexican Wave. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhoea or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools, which are associated with constipation. Excess gas also occurs if you eat too quickly or bolt down your meals, as you are inclined to swallow more air which, of course, turns into gas.photo4design.com-60814-a-woman-with-a-stomach-ache-

Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system may also play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhoea or constipation. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should not be confused with inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disorder is an auto-immune disease which affects all parts of your digestive tract and as the name implies, is caused by chronic inflammation. The two primary diseases that fall into this category are Crohn’s disease, which can affect the entire digestive tract from mouth to anus and ulcerative colitis which only affect the colon (large intestine). Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), on the other hand, is a functional bowel disorder and there are no significant physical conditions that contribute to it.

One of your body’s reflexes is the gastro-colic reflex. When you eat, this reflex kicks in and starts a process of movement throughout your entire digestive tract. Large meals and fatty meals appear to cause a greater gastro-colic response and thus may prompt the need for a visit to the toilet. This information is useful for those who are prone to either constipation or diarrhoea. For the person with constipation, a large, fatty meal in the morning may work with the body’s natural biorhythms to encourage a bowel movement. A small meal, on the other hand, would cause a lesser response and that visit to the small room would not be required in as short a period. A person who is prone to diarrhoea should therefore stick to small, low-fat meals. Having diarrhoea can drain away the good bacteria in your gut which, of course, allows the harmful bacteria to flourish. Eating a probiotic such as natural yoghurt should help, more so if you have it with a ripe banana. The time it takes for food to pass through the entire digestive system is known as the transit time and can vary from population to population, person to person, and even the same person can have different transit times depending on the type of food consumed. Transit time is also affected by race, gender, typical diet and physical activity. Normal transit times can vary between 36 hours and 72 hours. Vegetarians have shorter transit times than those who consume meat and sugary foods as plant based foods are digested quicker than dairy products and starches. For vegetarians the transit time can be 24 hours. Transit time of longer than 72 hours can indicate a possible bowel disorder..
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Although there are many foods and herbs that can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, it is important to know your dominant symptom and eat accordingly. The main symptoms are constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, gas, fatigue and gut pain. For gas and bloating, chewing fennel seeds or drinking tea made with fennel seeds can be quite effective as this causes the muscles in the digestive tract to relax, which allows the trapped gas to pass out of the body. Dill, caraway, peppermint, dandelion tea and aniseed can also be used in this manner. Sometimes even a simple glass of hot water will do the trick. Ginger is also effective and can either be consumed as a tea, chewed or added regularly to you cooking with the same effect. Parsley is another herb that can be used and activated charcoal, which works on a different principle, in that it absorbs excess air in the digestive tract as well as toxins which may be contributing to gas problems is also effective. There are a few other ways to address the issue of bloating and gas. You can engage in a full colon cleanse or consume probiotics, especially those that contain pineapples or even eat pineapples themselves. If you have a colon cleanse or colonic irrigation you must remember to re-seed your gut with good bacteria by eating probiotics, bearing in mind that probiotics make up a very large part of your immune system. If you are young and energetic you can lie on the floor on your back, raise your legs and move them as if you are riding a bicycle.

If your problem is constipation then fibre and water are your best friends. Fibre bulks up your stool which speeds up the transit time for food passing through your intestines. You should add fibre gradually as adding too much too soon can lead to gas, bloating and diarrhoea. Water is also essential in helping the passage of fibre through your system. Too much fibre without water can sometimes lead to constipation. Good sources of fibre are fruits and vegetables, especially the skin where possible. Remember also that there are two main types of fibre, namely, soluble and insoluble and they perform different functions in your intestines. Soluble fibre bulks up your stool by absorbing water which prevents constipation and eases the passage of the said stool through the intestine for ease of elimination. It also helps reduce cholesterol. Good sources are brown rice, oatmeal, apples, pears, grapefruit and sweet potato (insoluble as well), Insoluble fibre passes through the intestines undigested and helps to keep the colon clean. Good sources of insoluble fibre are grated coconut, lentils, chick peas, beans, pulses, okra, plantain, sweet potato and green bananas. It is also important that you eat small meals regularly rather than a couple of large meals each day as taking in too much food at once can overstimulate your digestive system.images.jpg black man holding stomach in pain

Reducing simple carbohydrates such as sugar, pasta, white bread, fruit juices and dried fruit is essential in treating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as high glycaemic carbohydrates, such as these, tend to ferment in the gut when the digestive system is out of balance leading to gas and bloating. You should also keep away from spicy foods as they can sometimes make your large intestines go into spasms which can cause diarrhoea. Avoid caffeine as this can worsen irritable bowel syndrome by irritating your intestines and you should also avoid foods like Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cabbage as they cause gas.

Needless to say you should reduce your intake of fried foods, processed foods, meats, certain cooking oils such as canola, vegetable and soy, margarine, dairy products and other fatty foods as these can cause your colon to contract violently which can lead to diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Finally, five good aids to reduce the frequency and severity of irritable syndrome are rest, avoid stress, take a good probiotic, drink good clean water and engage in home cooking.

7 Pillars of Good Nutrition

There are seven pillars of good nutrition and every meal as far as practicable should include them in some form. This way you are eating a balanced diet which is essential for good health. The seven pillars are listed below.

Sweet PotatoCarbohydrates are sugars, starches and fibres found in most foods. They provide energy, regulate digestion, support immune functions and help with communication between cells. They are two types, simple (cakes, soft drinks, biscuits, bread, pasta) and complex (sweet potato, wild rice, plantain) the latter providing more health benefits. The more complex the carbohydrate the slower the glucose and hormones are released into the body. This makes for a more stable and sustainable energy level. Complex carbohydrates also assist with appetite control and provide the body with dietary fibre which in turn helps with elimination, lowering of cholesterol, colon cleansing and the provision of food for the good bacteria in your gut. Simple carbohydrates on the other hand release glucose very quickly into the blood stream, give you an immediate burst of short term energy (spike) and leave you feeling hungry after a short period of time. This is not conducive to good health as these spikes can damage your organs.Barbeque 1

Proteins are the second most common element in the body after water. They are used by the body to build, maintain and repair muscle tissue. They make hormones, enzymes, skin, blood, bones, cartilage and other body chemicals and the immune system. Proteins are made up mainly of amino acids of which they are about twenty, nine of which are considered essential, mainly because they must be supplied by your diet. Proteins come from beef, pork, lamb, fish, chicken and eggs and also pulses and legumes such as beans and black eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, almonds and Greek yoghurt. Proteins from these non-animal sources are low in fat and cholesterol and are full of fibre. A diet with a heavy concentration on animal protein often provides much more protein than the body needs and can be toxic, as meat is acid forming and an imbalance of acid/alkaline can lead to inflammation and disease. Vegans and vegetarians should vary their diet regularly, as plants do not contain the full amounts of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Varying the types of vegetables and herbs means that what is not available in one vegetable is made up for by another. Proteins have a high thermogenic effect that helps stimulate your metabolism. This is because it takes more calories to chew and digest protein than carbohydrates so proteins can help with weight loss.

index.jpg Coconut oil in jarFats provide your body with energy and also help with the assimilation of vitamins A, D, E and K. It also insulates your body and the fatty acids play a role in brain development, blood clotting and the management of inflammation. They also help the body use proteins and carbohydrates more efficiently and when eaten make you feel more satisfied. There are three types of fats. Saturated fats are found in animal products (meat, milk) and are said to increase HDL “bad” cholesterol. Current thinking is that saturated fats that come from grass fed animals and free range chickens that are corn fed are quite healthy. However there are some saturated fats that are unquestionably beneficial to the body and help with the promotion of good health. One such fat is lauric acid from coconut oil. Trans- fats are formed when vegetable oils are hydrogenated to prolong their shelf life. They are found in processed and baked foods and are considered to be very unhealthy. Unsaturated fats are considered the healthiest of all and are derived mainly from fish (omega 3) nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, mackerel, herring, salmon, avocados and olive oil. It is important when choosing unsaturated fats (oils) to avoid those that say “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”.canstock5771099.jpg antioxidants

Vitamins are essential for good health. They help heal wounds, boost your immune system, help convert food into energy and repair damage to cells and lack of vitamins can result in the contraction of certain diseases. Vitamins can be fat soluble, meaning they should be taken with fat and can be stored in the body (A, D,E, K) or water soluble, those which cannot be stored in the body and need to be replenished ever so often (B, C). The exception is B12, which can be stored in the body. Vitamins are organic and can be broken down by heat, air and acid and become inactive as a result. They work in tandem with minerals but sometimes there can be an adverse interaction. For example, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron but can block its ability to absorb copper. You should get your daily requirement of vitamins from the foods you eat.

protein-diet-foodsMinerals mainly come into the body through food from all sources. They are categorized as major or minor (trace), depending on the amounts needed by the body for proper functioning. Major minerals like potassium, sodium and chloride help maintain the proper balance of water in the body. Trace minerals are needed by the body but only in small amounts. These are iron, zinc, manganese, copper, fluoride, chromium, selenium and molybdenum iodine. Of the trace minerals the most important are zinc, selenium, iron and copper all of which are found in a wide variety of foods. Minerals help our bodies to grow, develop and stay healthy. They are also used to build strong bones, convey nerve impulses, create hormones and keep our heartbeat normal. They work with vitamins to perform many functions in the body. Trace minerals carry out various tasks in the body. Iron, for example, carries oxygen throughout the body and zinc not only helps the blood to clot but bolsters the immune system as well and is essential for taste and smell.

free_8899134.jpg WaterWater is extremely vital and should be replenished daily. It is second only to air as an essential for life. Many processes in your body rely on it but you lose about two to three quarts of it daily through urination, sweating and breathing. You may only survive a week without water and if you were to lose 20% of your water you would die. It makes up about 60% of the male body and about 50% of the female body. Your blood is 83% water, your heart 79%, your muscle 75%, brain 75% and your skin 72%. Water helps to maintain body temperature, metabolize fat, cushions and lubricate organs, helps with digestion and flushes toxins from the body. Water, like carbohydrates, fats and protein is considered a macro-nutrient as it is vital for life.Fibre

Fibre is only derived from plant food and has many health benefits. It not only improves digestive health but helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers. There are two types, soluble and insoluble and a healthy diet should include both. Insoluble fibre passes through the gut undigested and helps to keep the bowels healthy, prevents digestive problems and as a result reduce the risk if colonic cancer. Good sources are coconut, nuts and bran. Soluble fibre can be digested and helps reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood. It bulks you up and helps with elimination. Water is essential here as it acts as a lubricant and prevents constipation.. Good sources of soluble fibre are sweet potato, bananas, apples barley and carrots. The flesh of the coconut is probably the best source of insoluble fibre although the woody parts of herbs are also good sources. There are some foods like sweet potato and green bananas that provide both soluble and insoluble fibre. Fibre also provides food for the good bacteria in your gut.