I want to talk about Fat Soluble Vitamins today.
There two types of vitamins, water soluble and fat soluble. This difference determines how easily a vitamin can be digested and absorbed, as well as how it works within the body.
Water soluble vitamins are not stored in our body. The body uses what it needs and excretes the rest as waste. These vitamins need to be consumed daily, if not multiple times a day in smaller amounts. Water soluble vitamins are also vitamins that can be dissolved and assimilated with water.
Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body. The body uses what it needs and stores the rest. These vitamins can be consumed intermittently as long as enough is consumed to be stored for later use, stores are not depleted. Fat soluble vitamins can only be dissolved and assimilated in the presence of a fat. Medical conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, inhibit the ability of the digestive system to break down fats and fat soluble vitamins efficiently, and the body excretes excess fat soluble vitamins in the stools. These people need to consume fat soluble vitamins throughout the day to maintain adequate levels in the body.
Our Important Fat Soluble Vitamins
Oddly, there is a growing concern to the resurgence of fat soluble vitamin deficiencies. Why? Mostly because of the wild spread, long held myth about fat free diets and weight loss/health claims. This is started to become a thing of the past, but it is especially true for children, with the rickets again becoming a seen condition in pediatrics. So, what are the fat soluble vitamins?
Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A from Plants), Retinol (Vitamin A from animal sources), are the two dietary forms of vitamin A. Of course when consuming the Retinol version from animals, there is fat contained in the meal already. Beta-Carotene on the other hand, is often lost in the diet due to poor preparation of our foods.
Carrots for example: How many of us have snacked on raw baby carrots. No dip, just carrots…guilty as charged! If you are doing this, and not combining them with a fat, either a dip like hummus, or dressings, then you are not assimilating the Vitamin A from that carrot. If you cook the carrot in some oil, or butter, or other fat, then you are going to get the most out of its fat soluble vitamins.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, eyes, hair, teeth, muscles, and connective tissue to name a few. It is important in healthy vision, retinol name comes from the retina in the eyes. Retinol produces the pigment of the retina. Retinol and Beta-Carotene do different things in the body, so both need to be consumed in the diet. Beta-Carotene is a strong antioxidant that works to protect the body from toxins, and cancer. Beta Carotene supplements do not have the same effect as Beta Carotene consumed in food. Beta-Carotene should be consumed via food. Vitamin A in Supplement form is one of the few that are TOXIC in high doses. Another reason to make sure your Vitamin A comes from multiple food sources. I do not like supplementing with Vitamin A.
Food Sources Retinol: Liver (everyone should eat more liver), Full Fat Dairy, Cod Liver Oil, Eggs, Oily Fish
Food Sources Beta-Carotene: Yellow and Orange Vegetables; Carrots, Bell Peppers, Winter Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Dark Leafy Green Vegetables; Spinach, Broccoli, Kale
Vitamin D is an entier topic on it's own. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming one of the most wide spread vitamin deficiencies across the country and the world. With the rises in the number of US rickets cases, this has inspired pediatricians to start Standard Care practices of supplementing children with Vitamin D supplements. I think the issue is being missed, we should be trying to figure out what is the cause of the increased amount of Vitamin D deficiencies. I doubt anyone with challenge the daily sunscreen use recommendations, or the lack of cholesterol in diets because of the low-fat, cholesterol with kill you myths. (jumping down off of soapbox…)
Most of our dietary sources of Vitamin D are also high in fat and cholesterol, go figure. Vitamin D is essential for not only our bone healthy and strength (it's main claim to fame), but also for a variety of other functions. It is the building block of our hormones, so without sufficient Vitamin D, we end up with hormone issues. With the rise in young men and women being diagnosed with some form of reproductive disease and the increase rates of Vitamin D deficiency diagnosis, one could assume a correlation. PCOS, Low T in young boys, Hypothryoid disease in teens, etc.. All of these are treated with supplemental Vitamin D.
I do put clients on Vitamin D supplements. This one seems to be the most difficult for people to get in their diets and through sun exposure, especially in Colorado winters. Most people are not getting enough in their diet (this could easily be fix with proper dietary changes), and even then, we also need to get enough sun exposure to produce the rest. I wrote in a previous post about sun exposure and the amount of Vitamin D that can be produced in just 30 minutes…wowzers….no supplement can match that without becoming toxic…truth. All supplements have a maximum that can be consumed before they become harmful. This is because they are synthetic vitamins, or separated vitamins. They are not found in their natural state and thus are missing many of the other nutrients, enzymes and chemicals that balance out and enable that specific vitamin in the body (sorry, another tangent). D2 is an example of this. It was the go to Vitamin D additive in milk, supplements, etc.. and it was found to be extremely hazardous. Supplements (if good), have switched to a D3.
Food Sources of Vitamin D2: D2 is the form of Vitamin D naturally produced by fungi and algae when they absorb UV light. In food, it is safe because it is not reaching extremely high levels. It does serve a purpose to some extent. It aids in the absorption of Calcium…kind of it's only real use. It breaks down quicker than D3, and is shorter lived, so isn't effective in the human body. Vegans and Vegetarians looking for a Vitamin D supplement (common deficiency of those dietary types), should look at labels. Most vegetarian forms are a D2 variety…most Vitamin D3 is made from sheep's wool, unless otherwise stated.
Food Sources of Vitamin D3: D3 is the form that is produced when UV light hits our skin. It is also found in animal products; Cod Liver Oil (it's making a comeback), Full Fat Diary (specifically grass-fed cow's butter), Eggs
Vitamin E supplements have been around for quite awhile. It has been used to heal scars and treat weak skin. There are 8 different forms of Vitamin E, most are unstable and lost in cooking. Alpha-Tocopherol is the most stable. Even so, the majority of Vitamin E we consume ends up in our stools. It is also not as easily stored in the body, like the other fat soluble vitamins. It is stored mostly in the Liver, but also in the uterus, ovaries, testes, pituitary, adrenals, and some fatty tissues. Which, as you can see makes it an important Vitamin for hormones and reproductive health.
Vitamin E is not known as a deficiency vitamin, but I really believe diagnosis is going to become more common. There are certain common environmental toxins and lifestyle choices that deplete the body of Vitamin E, and as you'll see, it's not all that common in the diet. Consumption of excess unsaturated oils. Unsaturated fats have to use Vitamin E to prevent oxidation, therefore it pulls it from our tissues. Excessive Estrogen is also a factor in Vitamin E depletion….this would apply to those who are being exposed to high levels of environmental and dietary estrogens, as well as women who are diagnosed with PCOS. Chlorine (found in our tap water) can deplete Vitamin E in our bodies as well. Those who fit into those categories need to consume more.
Supplementing is generally considered safe, but there are some cases of toxicity from over use.
Food Sources of Vitamin E: Although found in animal sources, the quality is very poor unless you are consuming organ meat, where it is more concentrated (liver, testes, kidneys, etc..), or egg yolks (lots of egg yolks, raw).Sadly, the most concentrated source of Vitamin E in the diet is vegetables oils. Why? Because the unsaturated fats are bound with Vitamin E. Well, in reality, this vitamin E is bound to the oil and little if any is actually absorbed on it's own. It is absorbed bound to the unsaturated fat. Also, the natural Vitamin E found in these oils is often destroyed during heating (pasteurizing and refining). So, how on earth to yo get it in your diet. Because Vitamin E is very heat unstable. The vegetable you consume it in should not only be raw, but also be combined with a fat (preferable a saturated fat). These vegetables are cucumbers, green beans, asparagus, spinach, kale. Honestly, if you could consume some animal organ meat and lots of egg yolks, you may be doing alright. Lamb Fries anyone?
Another fat-soluble vitamin we seem to be having issues with, especially in newborns…hence the universal precaution of Vitamin K shots. Vitamin K is known for it's blood clotting action. But it is also needed for bone health. We know now that Vitamin D, A, and K work together and for the most part need to be consumed together. Most Vitamin D supplements have a K2 tagalong, if yours doesn't get a new one.
There are two natural forms of Vitamin K (K1, K2)
Vitamin K1 is found in plants. Vitamin K2 if converted from K1 and K3 by bacteria during fermentation.
Vitamin K1, which is found in plants, is useless in our body in this form. It must be converted to K2 to be utilized. This is important when consuming soy foods. For many reasons, soy should not be consumed, unless it has been fermented into miso, tempeh, or traditional tofu. The bacteria natto used to fermented the soy is very good at producing K2.
K2 is the mysterious vitamin X that Dr. Weston Price dissevered almost a century ago. He knew that there was a pivotal nutrient missing between modern diet and the diet of primitive societies, he deemed in Vitamin X. Vitamin X was the reason that primitive diets yielded stronger and healthy teeth and bones according to him. I recommend reading (Nutrition and Physical Degneration), the book he wrote based on his explorations and nutritional discoveries.
K2 is the form used in our body, and if supplementing is the best source. Supplements of K2 should avoided with anyone taking blood thinners, who have a history of blood clotting issues. K3/K4/K5 are all synthetic versions, of which K3 is known to be toxic.
Food Sources of K1: Green Leafy Vegetables; Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Okra, Parsley
Food Sources of K2: Bone Marrow, Fermented Vegetables
What do I look for when I am packing each lunch? Well, there are a lot of things. But here are the main things that I am trying to accomplish or am conscious of when packing my kids lunchbox.
Fresh produce in important. I try to add in some sort of fresh fruit or veggie. Especially in the winter, when we need more Vitamin C. Fresh fruits and vegetables are important sources of Vitamin C, which boosts our immune system. I also try to give a variety of different types from day to day, and main lunch/snack. It gets pretty boring having the same options, in my opinion. I am not good with routine (as anyone who knows me well, will tell you), I do best with variety and change. I have been this way with my kids since day 1, they never knew which way I was going to come from. I think this helped make them adventurous to a certain degree. They are will to try new fruits and veggies, and get excited when they see something different.
Fresh produce, vs cooked is also important for enzyme and fiber content in a meal. Enzymes are destroyed in the cooking process, and fiber can be broken down. I do not encourage all raw produce diets, as you are missing out on numerous important minerals and other nutrients. Balance, as always is key. Balancing the amount of cooked vegetables with raw is important in making sure you are filling you kids with a variety of nutrients.
Protein and Fat
I am beating a dead horse with fats, aren't I? Well, it is THAT important for kids. They need lots of protein, for their growing bodies, and fats for energy and development. Some would argue that for children this is one of the MOST important components of a healthy diet.
I also like to vary the sources of protein for my kiddos. Like you read in the previous posts, not all protien is the same. Different sources (beans, grains, meats...) offer different amino acid percentages. Each of these amino acids is needed for different processes in the body.
We eat meat and animal products, and this is often what is found in their lunches, but not always. Sometimes it's nuts, like peanut butter, trail mix, and almond milk.
Sometimes it's beans, like black bean soup.
Sometimes is whole grains, like my wild rice salad.
There is always an element of fat in their diets as well. This is also varied, and can come from meats, oils, nuts, dairy, and eggs.
Color is so important to how our children emotionally view their meals, as I wrote in a previous post. Just look at a colorful meal yourself, how does it make you feel?
When I am packing lunches, I do this. I step back and look at what I put together...does it make me feel good? If the answer is yes, then it wins. If a meal looks good, our kids are more likely to eat it and enjoy it.
I absolutely dislike wasting food. It makes me sad and kind of angry when I have to throw out food. Therefore, when packing lunches I do three things.
As children, especially at the age of my children, they are fighting for a bit of control and independence in their lives. I try to include them in the packing of their lunch, but letting them choose something to add into either their main lunch or their snack bag. Sometimes I have to say no to something they have asked (Like M1 wanted to take an entire chocolate bar). But, I don't say no completely. We may just take a small square off the chocolate bar.
I also like to add in special treats from time to time. Now, special treats don't have to be sweet treats like candy, cookies, cupcakes, etc...for example today's special treat is Pork Skins. All it means is something that gets my kids really excited and is something they do not get on a normal or regular basis. It becomes like a little food present. I think this for us, personally, keeps my kids engaged and excited about their own lunches, instead of looking at other kids lunches and thinking it looks cooler. By adding in random special treats, their lunch becomes healthy and cool.
The ingredient quality is what makes the difference in many foods, especially packages foods and drinks. When I am buying items that I know are for my kids lunchboxes, I read the labels with much more precision than if it was just for me. I make sure the quality of the ingredients is the best it can be. For example, ranch dressing. When you compare and read labels, it is quite obvious that Hidden Valley (though as tasty and memorialized as it may be to us) is full of nasty ingredients. When you can, make your own, but when you cannot read all the labels and pick the one with the least amount of unreadable ingredients, and the least amount of added nonsense. (I think I will do the next post on additive to avoid and why).
Even the candy we buy is fruit juice based. Not 100%, but it's better quality than jolly ranchers.
Once a month either hubby or I will go and have lunch with M1 at school. She gets so excited that we come, and shows us off to her friends and teachers every time. I enjoy these special moments. It won't be long until she doesn't want us coming, and that's okay. Its part of growing up, but for now it's special.
Today hubby is meeting up with M1 for her lunch. He is bringing her something, I think it was Big City Burrito (she LOVES the spinach wraps there, calls them green burritos.), but I am not 100% sure. So, sorry, today there is no lunch picture…BUT, I did have to pack her a snack still. Today is a one stack day, I still pack two…it's habit, I guess.
So, a couple of you have asked me what my favorite cookbooks are…well, wouldn't you know it, I am serious cookbook hoarder, and buyer! I thought today I would share with you some of my all time favorites, and ones that I can't live without.
Of course I have a list of book I WANT! Don't we all. I often find books when I am out places (especially museums for some reason) that I just have to have. I will take pictures of them and make a list of books that I want. Here's what I've got right now.
Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Last night I made a good sized batch of Mongolian Beef (actually Venison). If you are a hunting family, or someone who has not really LOVED wild game in the past, this is the recipe for you! I've made this for family and friends in the past, which no complaints, only praise.
I've modified the original recipe I had, which lets be honest has WAY too much sugar in it. For those who have to watch your sugar intake (everyone), I've created a version that doesn't significantly spike your blood sugar.
Here is my recipe for PCOS Friendly Mongolian Beef
Can We Talk Seaweed?
Seaweed is one of those foods you either love or you hate, I've decided. I grew up eating seaweed, lots of seaweed. With a Korean Grandmother, Keem (those flat, roasted sheets of seaweed) were a staple. She would buy large bags and roast them in the oven with toasted sesame seed oil and salt. My siblings, cousins and I would sit at the table drooling and waiting for the hot, crunchy, salty snacks. I remember being THAT KID in school.....again the childhood lunchroom scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" comes to mind. I was the kid bring Rice, Kim Chi and Keem for lunch, it was worth the haggling, as it was so good!
It makes me so happy to see the little packages of seaweed snacks lining the shelves these days. I'm not THAT KID anymore...I was a trendsetter, cool before it was cool.
This is not the only way to enjoy seaweed, and there are many reasons why we should.
Benefits of Seaweed
Seaweeds are nutritional powerhouses, a true superfood.
They provide significant trace minerals to the diet that are hard to find anywhere else. In history sea salt was traded throughout the globe. It was an essential commodity. Of course it was partially because of its ability to cure and preserve foods, but little did humans know then, sea salts had microscopic algae (seaweed) particles that provided a hard to find, but essential element to our diet...IODINE. Iodine is missing in almost every other food source, exceptions being Fish, and Milk. Iodine is a critical mineral for our Thyroid and Hormones.
It is also a host to many other essential nutrients...More Vitamin C than an orange, Vitamin A, B's, K, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Magnesium, Iron, up to 70% protein, and the richest source of vegetarian calcium. Not to mention its high levels of polysaccharides (which decrease the risk of degenerative diseases, regulate blood sugar, improves liver function, regulates neurotransmitters in the brain, and so much more).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Seaweeds are used to increase the Yin, or cooling/fluid aspect of the body, nourish the Kidneys, and purify the blood.
How to Eat Seaweed
With the plethora of seaweed snacks popping up on the market, that is one easy way to enjoy seaweeds. Other way are:
A Meatless Monday Lunch Option.
Yes, I believe children need animal products in their diet. Yes, I believe in eating meat...but, a healthy vegetarian meal on occasion adds in a different array of nutrients. All of wish are important. Balance is key.
Do you eat beans? We love beans at our house, we eat them quite a bit, especially in the winter. Over the weekend I made a big batch of From Scratch Black Bean Soup. I would like to say I made enough for us to eat some all week for lunch...it was so good, it didn't last.
Beans provide a wonderful option for proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Not all beans are created equal, though. Many have very different nutritional profiles. All should be soaked, or early germinated before cooking.
Beans and Legumes have been a staple of many cultures for a VERY LONG TIME! Typically they are paired with grains like rice. This combination creates a complete protein profile. I always find it amazing to look at how cultures traditionally ate and combines foods and how they plays into what we know now with nutrition...pretty cool they inherently knew this.
Let's learn a little about some of our commonly use, and not so commonly used legume varieties. It might just inspire you to try something new.
Adzuki (Aduki) Beans
Lima Beans (Butter Beans)
The importance of family staples.
Again, if you guys keep up with previous posts, I like to make large batches of go-to items during harvest season (ie...summer/fall). These become an essential part of our winter meal prep, or last minute lunch ideas.
I made a couple of different batches of pesto's over the summer while my kale and chard were exploding. I froze them into little 1/2 cup servings. This morning, it came in handy as I searched high and low for something to put in M1's lunchbox....it's grocery day!
The Thompson Family Top Ten
Okay, so this should be fun. We have our TOP TEN foods that are pantry/freezer staples, and constitute a large portion of our diet. I though this might be fun. Much of it, we harvest and store ourselves, other things are items we purchase weekly.
1. Wild Game
As you've noticed, we are a hunting family. Hubby does a great job every year of stocking the freezer with healthy meats for our family. We eat quite a big of Venison and Elk on a good year. But, that's not all. Grouse, Wild Turkey, Trout, Rabbit, etc..is all fair game in the Thompson household. We do this with pride. As a family, it is part of our way of life, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I am, obviously, very concerned with what my family eats. I want quality! Nothing yells quality meat like wild game. Honestly, it doesn't get any healthier, or humane. Wild Game is meat the way nature intended. It is full of healthy fats, essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The quality is better because the animal lived a natural life, exercising and eating what it was meant to eat. This is a far cry from the commercial meat you buy at the stores. From a humane stand, Wild Game is not treated poorly, given antibiotics to prevent diseases from overcrowding, abused, and forced to live a less than sub-par shorten life. Typically the Venison we consume is older, more mature deer that have had time to reproduce and live a long and happy life.
This is a passionate topic for me, as I feel hunters are often put into a bad light.
Red Wine Venison Steak Recipe
2. Garden Fresh Greens
Green veggies are a staple in my gardens. I have a couple of small raised garden beds, nothing crazy, but by planting the right vegetables, I am able to have a extended harvest that not only feeds us well during the gardening season, but gives me enough to store for winter.
The greens I grow are: Lettuces, Chard, Kale, Basil, Okra, Green Beans, Zucchini, and whatever sounds good when I am buying seeds. (Can you believe it is time to start thinking about starting seeds!).
I blanch and freeze Chard to use like frozen spinach throughout the year. I blanch and freeze Kale to use as, well, Kale throughout the year. I also make items like my Kale Pesto and freeze it into smaller batches that are easy to pull out and use. Or, my Chard and Feta Pies that I made this year, which make for great lunches.
Kale Pesto Recipe
Oh Yes, we are a potato family. I am quite okay with that. I am not afraid of potatoes. They have been given a bad rap over the year. But, they are full of minerals, specifically Potassium (more than a banana). As well as phytonutrients that had previously only been discovered in GoJi Berries, that protect against the harmful compounds created when you cook meat at high temperatures.
New for the garden this year...Sweet Potatoes! Kind of excited about this one. My goal is to grow enough Sweet Potatoes in my large pot to store for winter. Wish me luck, and I'll keep you updated.
We go through A LOT of eggs. Between 2-3 dozen a week. For growing children, it's the perfect food. I make fried eggs almost every morning. We used them to make hard boiled eggs for snacks, crepes, egg casseroles, soups, etc... It's amazing how quickly we can bust through some eggs. This week I have 1 egg left from the 4 packages I bought last Saturday. WOW! That's a new Thompson record.
In some primitive cultures, eggs are reserved for children and pregnant women to eat only. Pregnant women would eat up to 12 eggs a day, in some cultures!
Good, pasture-raised chicken eggs are full of healthy fats, healthy cholesterol (remember the talk on Vitamin D), Lutein (for eyes), Choline (for healthy cell development), Omega 3's, Vitamin D, Complete Protein profile, B Vitamins, and Folic Acid. It has, literally everything you need to develop a life, except Calcium and Vitamin C (found in the shell).
We are a bread eating family, no doubt about it. I love toast to dip in my egg yolks in the morning, or dunk in some brothy soup. I am selective on my breads, though. When I purchase bread I am looking for two types...Sprouted and Sourdough.
As I mentioned, at some point (can't remember when), sprouting grains releases the nutrients within the plant. Early germination unlocks protein, minerals, and vitamins. It also breaks down the chemical Phytic Acid.
Sourdough, real sourdough, does the same basic thing, but adds the element of fermentation. I have made my own sourdough in the past, but man is it time consuming. I have been feeling the bug again, so I may start up the process this spring.
Again, I grow and number of different herbs in my yard. I tried to develop an edible landscape. So, in my shrubbery I have Thyme, Sage, Oregano, and Rosemary (died over the winter, very sad about this). In pots I have Stevia, Mint (to keep it from taking over my yard), Basil, Cilantro and Parsley. I HAD a Bay Leaf Tree as an indoor plant, but it sadly died when my 3 (now 4) year old decided to pull it out. I did dry all the leaves and store them.
During the growing season, I use fresh herbs in almost everything. When the season comes to an end, I pick what I can and dry it. Some of the yard herbs stay green and usable all winter (Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, and occasionally the Oregano). For those that do not, I pick them before the weather turns and either dry them, or freeze them.
Herbs are full of nutrition and phytonutrients that have many, many health benefits.
Oregano Chimichurri Recipe
7. Grass-Fed Butter
Talk about another food that I seem to blow through. I use Butter for all my cooking needs, okay most my cooking needs.
Have you ever looked at good quality grass-fed butter in comparison to regular 'ole butter? Grass-Fed Butter is ORANGE, not white. Big difference in flavor (it actually has flavor), and higher nutritional profile. Like I mentioned in the "food color" conversation. Orange colors means more Vitamin A, and much more.
Grass-Fed Butter is a wonderful source of good saturated fats, Omega 3, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, CLA, and so much more. Another important food for growing children, as long as they are not dairy sensitive.
8. Cultured Foods
I talked about this yesterday. I love to culture veggies. My girls will eat their weight in homemade sauerkraut, especially when I mix in beets and kale.
We also make a couple batches of Kim Chi every year...speaking of, it's about that time.
In addition, we love us some yogurt...or I should say M2 REALLY loves her some yogurt. We buy quite a bit every week. It is her go to snack, dessert, breakfast, etc... When she was a baby, she would wake up in the middle of the night (she did this till she was about 3), eat a cup of yogurt and go back to sleep. Nothing else worked for her, just yogurt.
I am really thinking of trying some Kombucha this year as well.
9. Seeds and Nuts
I wish I could grow more of these myself. We do sunflower seeds every year, which the girls just love. We also save our Pumpkin Seeds, which are really super seeds when you hear the amount protein and vitamins in them...wowzers.
I freeze them for freshness, or roast them.
We also buy a lot of nuts and seeds. We are huge fans of the Coco-Nutty Granola recipe, and vary it based on the seeds and nuts we have on hand.
10. Raw-Unfiltered Honey
Raw honey is my go-to sweetener for recipes and life. Organic Raw Honey is packed with enzymes, propolis, vitamins, and is a natural energy source. Yes it is sugar (fructose mostly, as well as some other types), but it's natural. As long as you use it in moderation, it shouldn't be bad. It's also so full of great immune boosting compounds, anti-bacterials, anti-virals, ant-fungals, that in my opinion are more important than the sugar it adds to your diet. The importance is moderation, and limited non-natural and bad sugars from your diet.
Just like fats, sugar is going down the road of bad food. While I agree that processed sugars, white sugars, high fructose chemical sugars, etc... are bad (same as chemically processed fats, refined oils, etc are in the fat world), there are good sugars that play an important role in our nutrition and biochemistry.
Our fridge is starting to look a little stark. It's time to do some mass cooking!
I was a little strapped on what to pack for M1 today. It's not one of my better lunchbox's, but it will work.
So, I talked about amino acids yesterday...wasn't that fun! A friend asked me yesterday if I just remember all that information, or if I have to do research on these topics. Honestly, it's a little bit of both. A lot of it is memory, but when I get into these topics there are typically some refreshment going on as well. For example, yesterday's amino acid post...I know the essential amino acids, what they do and typical foods, but for those that are non-essential, there are some that I just didn't quite remember all of their roles, and where you CAN get them in food. So, it was a fun refresher for me. I also do a little fact checking in my old test books to make sure I am not giving you any false data.
Today I want to discuss probiotics a bit. (Since I added some yummy yogurt to the box today). Probiotics have become more mainstream, nutritionally, in recent years, and for good reason. More and more research is coming out linking the bacteria in our digestive system to mental health, immunity, development, cancer prevention, nutritional absorption, etc...
When I look at diet, I try to look back at how our ancestors ate, before advent of processed, chemically made "food." How did they preserve their food for winter, with nitrate preservatives, chemicals, and vacuum sealing. Many of the methods they used required fermentation, or the bacterial culturing of our foods. Almost every culture across the globe and in history had at least one version of a fermented or cultured food they consumed regularly. This is a gap in our modern diets. Rarely are people making their own fermented vegetables, kefir, yogurts, sausages, sourdough breads, etc... It is a lost art, but many of you are helping to bring it back, as I know from Facebook!
Culturing your own foods is way easier and safer than you think (for those of you who do not). I almost always have a jar of something on the counter. My husband has threatened to buy my a fermentation fridge if I don't stop...I'm still waiting!
So, Why Bacteria
In a world obsessed by anti-bacterial this and anti-bacterial that, over washing, and over medicating, it has become even more important to consume probiotics in some form. When we are born, we are sterile, we need to be inoculated with bacteria to develop proper digestion, and immunity. We most often get this from being born. Babies born via Cesarean do not get this bacterial inoculation from the start (so probiotics are more important for them). Breastfeeding is our next access to probiotics. By suckling on a mothers breast, a baby consumes bacteria off of her skin. Babies who are not breastfed, are less likely to be orally exposed to good bacteria. These cesarean born children, alone, are up to 20x more likely to develop a chronic immune relate disease.
Science has discovered, already, a variety of benefits to having a healthy gut flora. I am sure there will be more.
Click here to see a range of research and article on the subject.
How to increase your Probiotics
As many of you know, I really do not like supplements. I feel they are, really, sub-par to the quality you get from your food. That doesn't mean that I am ant-supplements. I believe, like medication, they have their place and can be very beneficial and lifesaving if used correctly. I do not like the daily multivitamin!
Probiotics are one of those to me. I really believe it is best consumed in the diet. It is important to TRY to get one serving of cultured foods daily. Do I, NO! I try though. I go through good periods, and bad periods. So, how do you get it through your diet.
Not going to lie, I feel I should be further along that day 12…yeah for holidays and weekends.
I enjoy my leisurely Wednesday mornings. I enjoy getting up early, and knowing I have a full day. Wednesday's I am not in the office, so it's my catchup day. On the docket for today...
I have talked about the importance of fats, and I have mentioned protein, but let's dive a littler deeper in the word protein. Not all protein is made the same. Protein is a broad word used to describe any compound that can be broken down into amino acids, or amino acids themselves. To function properly, the body requires 20 different amino acids, that we know of. Of those 9 are essential, meaning we have to consume them via our diet. The others our body CAN synthesis from other nutrients, but only if we have those nutrients in our diets and there conditions and diets are right. I want to break down each of the 20 different amino acids today….bare with me.
Why do we need protein?
Amino Acids are the building blocks of our body. Every aspect of our body requires amino acids to function. They are required for the growth of muscles, skin, hair, nails, and hormones. Protein is even more important for children and athletes, who are building new muscles and repairing injuries regularly. Protein doesn't work alone, though. Several other nutrients are required to utilize protein in the body: fats, b vitamins, and zinc are the most important.
For a normal adult, protein should consume about 1/4-1/2 of the dietary intake, and should be balanced with vitamin rich fruits, vegetables, and grains, as well as fats to aid in their utilization. Growing children need even more. 1/2 of their diet should be a variety of protein balanced with vitamins, minerals, fats and good carbohydrates.
Food Sources of Protein
Many foods contain protein. We often think of MEAT as the main source of protein, and it kind of is. But, the options are vast and it can add up if you are combining a variety of foods together.
Yes, plants have protein. This included some vegetables, legumes, and grains.
The 20 Amino Acids
Alright, I wanted to do a snippet on each amino acid, what foods you get them in and what they do in the body.
Essential Amino Acids: Proteins that must be consumed in our diet
Conditional Amino Acids: These amino acids can be synthesized in body under specific conditions and come from the diet.
Dispensable Amino Acids: If we are healthy, these amino acids are completely supplied by our own bodies. BUT, if our bodies are weak or we are not eating a healthy diet, these will not be synthesized.
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. M1 finally lost her first tooth last night! Big deal in the Thompson household. Because of this recent change in M1's teeth, she decided this morning she needed soup for lunch because it would be too hard to chew...okay I'll humor her.
I found these great ramen noodle packets. The noodles are made with a variety of rice species (forbidden rice, jade pearl, exit...) yes they are packaged, but they can be a convenient meal. Always read labels! This lunch was put together in 10 minutes, cooked and packed. Not bad for a hot, healthy meal.
I left all the toppings and noodles out of the broth so she could put it together fresh at lunchtime. She helped pick out her veggies. Whenever possible let your kids help, let them have a say. It gives them a sense of ownership over what they are eating, and I have found, makes them more likely to eat healthy foods. So, she got to pick veggies and a protein for her toppings. She chose eggs, green onions, and daikon radish.
What to talk about today? It is winter, and there is an increased rate of Vitamin D deficiency, especially in children, I think that's a good place to go today.
How do we get Vitamin D
I think that most of you know that Vitamin D is converted from sunlight. But how?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. It is made from cholesterol, that's right, cholesterol. But, you need sunlight to convert the cholesterol into Vitamin D. It is specifically the UVB rays that are necessary.
You can also get it from food. Interestingly, foods that are typically high in Vitamin D, are also high in cholesterol. The richest sources of dietary Vitamin D are:
The amount of Vitamin D converted by sunlight is variable. It is dependent of ethnicity, skin color, and nutrition. On average, though, 30 minutes of unprotected sunlight exposure from someone with pale skin provides between 10,000-20,000iu.
Why do we need Vitamin D
Vitamin D is known for its role in calcium metabolism. It has been added to calcium supplements for decades (albeit in the D2 form, message me for more info on this tragedy...) and it is essential for growing bones in children. There has been an increase in the number of cases or rickets, a bone disease caused by Vitamin D deficiency.
It is also an essential component of our hormones. This becomes increasingly important for children entering puberty. Also, add in the increases rates or premature puberty, and reproductive imbalances in young children.
In addition to these highly publicized affects, Vitamin D is also necessary for
For children it becomes increasingly important for proper bone growth and formation, immunity, hormone production and regulation, and building a healthy foundation for the prevention of degenerative diseases later in life.
To supplement or not to supplement
Many PCP's are recommending Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming common. Why? My theory? Over use of sunscreens and poor diet.
Yes, we all want to avoid cancer from over exposure from sun. But we need UV light. It becomes the game of balance, moderation. I personally do not burn easily in the sun, which is a good indicator that I need more sun to convert Vitamin D. I don't wear sunscreen unless I will be in the sun all day. I have taught my kids the importance of hats, clothing, and we do use sunscreen, but it is not a daily routine. We will put some on the kids when we are planning to be out in the sun all day, but from day to day we do not. If you are putting sunscreen on your children first thing in the morning, whether or not they will be in the sun, you are limiting their exposure and thus creating a deficiency. To me, the risk of cancer from sunlight is not rooted in well done research. I am sure to some extent, yes, if you burn to the point of blistering and do this multiple times, you are damaging your cells and increasing your risk of cancer. By getting some sun everyday, you are not.
We come from a generation of the "low fat diet" and "cholesterol is bad." This is not the case. It makes me sad to see some still holding onto this mentality. It is not an intentional bad diet, and in fact is more common in those who are trying to eat healthy. Limiting your fats and cholesterol can be detrimental to your overall health, and is now associated more with degenerative disease. As I mentioned in my previous post on fats and children, it is important for children to consume enough healthy fats. And now, you understand why it is important for children and adults to consume enough healthy cholesterol. I am a big fan of eggs and butter for children (for those who are not allergic or sensitive).
So, do you, or do you not supplement. This is a personal decision. If you are considering supplementing, I suggest supplementing first with cod liver oil, and other food based Vitamin D sources. Second, get your kids outside without sunscreen for at least 30 minutes per day. If you are doing all of these, and find that children suffering from symptoms associated with Vitamin D deficiency, or you are worried about possibly Vitamin D deficiency, then add in an additional supplement. I usually don't recommend vitamin supplements unless we are addressing the nutrition side, and there are obvious signs or symptoms associated with deficiency.
Will a Vitamin D supplement hurt? Probobly not, if it is a D3 and is taken with a Vitamin K.
There really is nothing like hot soup on a cold day. I highly recommend investing in some good thermos's. I think one of the ruts we fall into when packing lunches for kids is cold lunches. Step it up and send them to school with nutritious and warming foods. Especially in the winter months.
Today, I want to talk about the importance of COLOR. I have seen so many lunches, I had them as a kid, that are bland in color. Usually this means they are bland in nutrition and flavor as well. There is also evidence that color increases ones appetite and desire. It's more appealing to our senses.
What Gives Food It's Colors?
Certain nutrients are associated with the colors we see in fruits and vegetables.
Green Fruits and Vegetables
Green fruits and vegetables are typically rich in chlorophyll, glucosinolates, Lutein, Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin C and K, essential minerals, as well as many others dependent on the plant. These nutrients are associated with stronger, healthier eyes, muscles, bones and teeth.
Examples: Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Arugula, Asparagus, Green Apples, Green Grapes, Honeydew, Kiwi, Green Pepper, Green Beans, Cabbage, Celery, Green Onions, Avocados, Pears, Limes, Zucchini, Peas...
Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Orange fruits and vegetables are known for their high levels of both carotenoids and flavonoids. As well as, antioxidants, vitamin C, and many others. These phytonutrients and vitamins are needed for proper hormone development, immunity, and cell growth and division.
Examples: Pumpkin, Mango, Carrot, Oranges, Sweet Potatoes, Peaches, Cantaloupe, Butternut and Acorn Squashes, Papaya, Orange Bell Pepper...
Yellow Fruits and Vegetables
Yellow fruits and vegetables are very similar to Orange in nutrients, being rich in flavonoids and carotenoids. These Flavonoids are necessary for proper immune and histamine regulation, to chelate iron and copper, and nourish skin and eyes. These fruits and vegetables are also typically rich in Vitamin A and C, and also carotenoids like beta-carotene, and much more essential nutrition. Yellow fruits and vegetables are also known to contain enzymes that regulate and stimulate proper digestion.
Examples: Golden Kiwi, Yellow Bell Peppers, Yellow Tomatoes, Yellow Beets, Pineapple, Star Fruit, Yellow Squash...
Red Fruits and Vegetables
Red fruits and vegetables are rich in carotenoids, such as lycopene, alpha and beta carotene, and the flavonoids anthocyanines. Lycopene, specifically, protects our skin from UV damage. Anthocyanines improve memory and brain function, and protect against cancers. These fruits and vegetables are also, typically rich in minerals like Iron, Calcium and Magnesium, as well as other vitamins such as C.
Examples: Tomatoes, Cherries, Cranberries, Red Bell Peppers, Beets, Strawberries, Raspberries, Red Apples, Radishes, Pomegranates, Kidney Beans...
Dark Colored Fruits and Vegetables
These can be dark blues, purples, reds and even blacks. These fruits and vegetables tend to be higher in antioxidants. They also contain other vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin K, C, E, B's, and essential minerals. These fruits and vegetables and an even higher range of anthocyanines, which is one of the reasons they go from red to dark deep reds and purples. These antioxidants protect our children from toxins in our environment, encourage proper brain development, and boost immunity. The vitamins found in these fruits and vegetables are necessary for the proper growth and development of muscles, bones, teeth and other tissues.
Examples: Purple Carrots, Blueberries, Blackberries, Eggplants, Plums, Elderberries, Figs, Grapes, Purple Cabbage, Black Salsify, Purple Potatoes
White Fruits and Vegetables
These are not the enemy by any means. They are also full of nutrition, but if the diet becomes bland and beige, we are missing out on a number of super important phytonutrients not found in our beige/white favorites. These fruits and vegetables contain compounds that helps to boost our immunity, and provide essential nutrients like potassium and fiber, as well as antioxidant minerals like manganese. The issue with white foods is that often they are that color because the nutrient have been ripped away through commercial processing. When choosing foods that are white, choose fresh produce that is rich in nutrients. Avoid white butter (butter should be orange), white breads, white no-skin potatoes, these are nutrient pit holes.
Examples: Garlic, Onion, Cauliflower, Ginger, Turnips, Daikon, Kohlrabi, White Corn, Parsnips (many of these could be classified in other categories. Ginger could be yellow, Kohlrabi could be a light green.)
Does the Color of Your Plate Affect How You Eat?
Yes! According to research from the University of Washington. Sight plays a big role in in taste. As humans, we associate in childhood foods and their colors with certain tastes. By increasing the color that are children are exposed to in their diet, we inhibit or increase certain emotions and associations with those foods.
Red Food illicit feeling of energy, intimacy and passion. Looking at red foods increases circulation in the body and heart rate (just by LOOKING at it). It also stimulates appetite, which is why many restaurants use red napkins and red curtains in the decor.
Yellow foods also stimulate the appetite, and also increase serotonin production in the brain, increasing feelings of happiness and pleasure.
(Red and Yellow, interesting combination used by many restaurants to stimulate appetite, cough…MacDonald's…cough)
Blue, surprisingly, does the opposite. Blues illicit the production of melatonin to calm and suppress appetite. The theory is that there are few foods that are actually blue. Many blue foods are toxic…poisonous berries, rotten meat, etc… Purple is different, it's technically a darker shade of red, and as such seems to stimulate similarly to red.
In another study, those who ate foods (same caloric intake an serving size) of different colors found that they felt for satisfied after eating a plate full of color, vs. a plate of only white foods. Color makes us happy as well as fills us with essential nutrition.