Selenium: A Critical Mineral

We don’t hear much about selenium, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to our health. In fact, while it’s a trace mineral — meaning we only need small amounts of it on a daily basis — it’s critical to our well being. Not only does selenium protect our cells from free-radical damage, it supports heart health, and is essential for the production of thyroid hormone, blood sugar regulation and joint health.

While selenium occurs naturally in most foods, because of our modern agricultural practices, many of our foods are not as mineral rich as they used to be. For some of us that could mean selenium deficiency; look for these signs: weakness and pain in the muscles, discoloration of hair and skin, and whitening of the fingernail beds.

To increase your selenium levels naturally, try eating more button mushrooms, cod, shrimp, tuna, halibut, salmon, Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds. Consuming too much selenium through food is not likely, with the exception of large consumption of Brazil nuts.

If you have signs of selenium deficiency, and before increasing your intake through a supplement, be sure to consult Dr. Myra Reed to ensure proper levels. Selenium toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss, skin lesions, abnormalities in the beds of the fingernails, and fingernail loss.

Dates: An Ancient Treat for Modern Times

Oddly wrinkled, with a single pit in the center, dates (Phoenix dactylifera) have been a sweet treat for more than 5,000 years. A modern day favorite, the Medjool date made its way from Mesopotamia. In the 1920’s, it was introduced into the U.S. in Nevada and later relocated to Southern California in 1935. Medjool dates, which come in three sizes (jumbo, large and fancy/small), can be picked and eaten fresh.

The health benefits of dates are plentiful. They contain vitamins A and K, as well as many of the B vitamins. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, mostly from natural sugars (66 g per 100g / 3.5 oz. serving). The minerals copper, selenium, magnesium and manganese contribute to their preventive health benefits. Just one serving provides seven grams of dietary fiber, which supports healthy gut function. Eating dates in moderation can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and that’s good for the whole body.

Dates are used in vinegars, chutneys, butters, paste, and as a natural sweetener. Dates satisfy a sweet tooth without adding fat to your diet. When eating raw dates, mix them with raw nuts and seeds or add to a raw cream cheese – spread it on brown rice cakes for a yummy, nutritious snack. They’re the perfect snack to take on a long hike or for one of those days when you’re on the run and might need a quick pick-me-up.

Date Paste: The Ultimate All Natural Sweetener

Date paste can be used in baking, as a spread on your favorite cracker, and in chutneys and other recipes. Put your own spin on this recipe: while processing, add in apricots, raisins, dried mango or other fruit. You can also mix raisins or cranberries into the paste after it’s processed. Experiment and see what sweet bliss you can create!
Ingredients and Supplies 
  • 450 g. standard pitted dates (Medjool dates can be used but are more expensive)
  • 1/2 litre Mason jar (or similar glass jar)
  • Approx. 3/4 c. water
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Splash of Pure Vanilla Extract (optional but recommended)
  • Food processor
Directions
  1. Tightly pack the pitted dates in a Mason type glass jar. You should be able to cram about 450g in a half liter jar.
  2. Pour water over the dates until the jar is really full. Add water if needed to cover dates.
  3. Cover the jar. Soak dates overnight, at least 12 hours.
  4. After soaking, transfer the entire content of the jar, including the water, to the bowl of your food processor.The mixture should look chunky and gooey.
  5. Add vanilla and pinch of salt.
  6. Process dates on high speed for about 5-8 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. The longer you process, the smoother and creamier your paste will be. After 3 to 4 minutes, you will have obtained a paste, but it will still be somewhat grainy. Run the processor for a bit longer.
After the desired consistency has been obtained, transfer your date paste back to your Mason jar. Place it in the fridge. Paste will darken after a few days. Keeps 3-4 months.

You’re Sweet Enough Without the Added Sugar

Do you enjoy a diet soda with dinner every night? What about a low-sugar, high protein ‘nutrition bar’ after a workout? At the office, are you mindlessly grazing through the low-sugar or no-sugar added cookies? Do you read food labels to see where on the ingredient list sugars are hidden? If you’re regularly drawn to sweets, or foods laden with artificial sweeteners, try going without them for a few days and see what happens. Do you have headaches, irritability, cravings, and symptoms that could only be described as withdrawal? Do you find yourself so uncomfortable that you’re drawn right back to those same foods? If so, it could be you’re trapped in what is called a cycle of sugar addiction.
Sugar is a carbohydrate, but it doesn’t provide vitamins, minerals, or even fiber to our diet. Still, it’s added to an array of foods, including ketchup, fruited yogurt, cereal, canned soup, certain brands of lunch meat, salad dressing, condiments, bread, and so much more. While we require some sugar (glucose) in order to function property, all of this added sugar sugar is harmful to our health.
Sugar’s Addictive Qualities
When we ingest sugar, our body generates a response similar to that seen in addictions, which is why we develop cravings for more. It’s often called the cocaine of dietary additives.
Here’s how it works: Sugar — whether natural, processed or artificial — enters the bloodstream quickly, causing your blood sugar level to spike. The body recognizes this imbalance and acts to bring blood sugar back to normal. Insulin, a hormone, pushes glucose into the cells to be used for energy. If you eat a lot of sugar, the body can’t keep up. Insulin has to work harder and the body overcompensates, causing blood sugar to drop too low – and your brain reacts. You feel depleted, irritable, and crave even more sugar.
Sugar by Any Other Name
Sugar names you might recognize are sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruits, some root veggies, and honey), and lactose (milk sugar). Naturally occurring sugar in fruit and vegetables has a place in a balanced diet. But added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed ‘natural’ sugars like high fructose corn syrup are detrimental to your health.
Eliminate Unhealthy Sugar From Your Diet
Learn where Sugar Hides. On ingredient lists, look for words ending in ‘-ose,’ which equate to sugar. If they’re among the first five items, it’s not worth buying. When sugar is among the last items in the list, that’s a better choice.
Avoid the Fake Stuff. Products containing artificial sweeteners are not a healthy alternative. Diet soda, ‘fat free’ and ‘sugar free’ candy and cookies are full of chemicals and associated with weight gain and cravings, creating a cycle of addiction.
Sip with Awareness. A single can of soda, flavored water, Gatorade, or a juice box typically contains nine or more teaspoons of sugar.
Make Sweet Substitutions. Look for snacks labeled ‘no added sugar’ or ‘unsweetened.’ Use canned foods packed in water or natural juice. When baking, swap table sugar with applesauce, date paste, molasses, or fruit puree. Cinnamon or vanilla powder is a great way to sprinkle flavor onto yogurt, oatmeal, or coffee. Opt for brown rice syrup or cane sugar over other processed sugars.
Reprogram your sugar meter slowly. If you put two sugar packets in your coffee, cut back in half-packet increments. Keep sugar off the kitchen table. Small steps add up to sweet success!

Rainbow Trout: Good for Your Body & Your Brain

 

Among the top five healthiest fish to eat, rainbow trout makes a tasty entrée and is one of the more affordable seafood options.

Rainbow trout is one of the few fish that is better to buy farmed because wild trout can be contaminated from chemicals like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). All rainbow trout on the U.S. market is farmed-raised in the United States, in accordance with strict environmental standards. Rainbow trout is farmed in raceways, which mimic a free-flowing river and use large amounts of freshwater.

Rainbow trout provides a number of nutrients important to physical and mental wellness. A cooked 3-ounce serving of farmed rainbow trout contains 21 grams of muscle-building protein. For brain health, a serving provides over 900 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids including EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent neurological disorders like dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease; they are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Rainbow trout is low in total fat (just 6 grams), and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

There are several ways to cook trout: grilled, smoked, pan-fried, roasted or baked. When baking, measure the thickness of the fish and plan on 10 minutes per inch (5 minutes on each side), and bake at 400 to 450 degrees F. You can use nearly any seasoning – herbs, lemon, salt, pepper – to finish off your trout. Additionally, many salmon recipes work well for rainbow trout.

Tomato Parsley Trout

Prepared with tomatoes, parsley, garlic and white wine, this simple-to-make entree has extraordinarily flavorful results. The tomatoes and parsley add vibrant color and pungent garlic is balanced by the aromatic combination of white wine, lemon and olive oil.

Ingredients 

  • 1 (4 pound) whole trout, cleaned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes (with seeds removed)
  • 2 Tbs organic olive oil
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking dish or line with parchment paper.
  2. Rub the trout inside and out with salt and pepper to taste and place in baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, wine and minced garlic. Spread evenly over the top of the fish.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.

Serve garnished with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – Essential to Brain Health

 

Decades of study and countless books have gone into exploring Omega-3 and the role it plays in our physical and mental health. Here are Seven Essential Facts about this ESSENTIAL substance.

1. Omega-3 is called “essential” because it’s necessary for our health, but we cannot make it on our own.

2. One essential Omega-3 fatty acid is a substance called α-linolenic acid (ALA). Our body uses ALA to make two other essential fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). However, we don’t make enough to meet daily needs for optimal health.

3. Omega-3 is critical for preventing symptoms of chronic illness, such as inflammation, fatigue, joint and muscle pain and poor elimination of toxins.

4. The brain thrives on Omega-3. Without enough, we can experience learning problems, memory issues, brain fog and other neurological symptoms. Proper levels help protect us from Alzheimer’s Disease.

5. Food is a great source of Omega-3. Consider salmon, tuna, halibut, krill, flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds.

6. It’s difficult to get sufficient amounts from food alone. Most Americans consume a daily average of 130 mg EPA + DHA – way below the recommended 1000-2000 mg. Consider adding a supplement to your diet.

7. Acquiring Omega-3 must be done in a focused fashion, with attention paid to the balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 (a group of fatty acids linked to increased inflammation). An imbalance can adversely impact well being and brain health.

Consult Dr. Myra Reed to assess your intake and explore ways to protect your health and cognitive function with Omega-3. Dr. Myra carries one of the best forms of supplemental Omega-3 at her office.