BLOG 260 HUNGER HORMONES
Having a heathy appetite, one that says “I’m hungry”, then “I’m full”, is part of a cat and mouse game we play daily. The majority of us have no problem wanting to eat, but stopping is whole other event. The hunger hormones in the body are called leptin and ghrelin. Both play a role in body weight. Leptin is in charge of decreasing one’s appetite while ghrelin increases appetite. They have a tug of war relationship; one that we fully sense and feel.
Leptin is made by our fat cells. It is the all-ruling appetite suppressor. Leptin levels are lower in persons who are thin and are higher in overweight people. Leptin communicates with the brain that the body has enough energy (body fat) and doesn’t need more fuel. Obese people have hire levels of leptin, but the body seems to miscommunicate and misinterpret these hunger signals. The more fat in the body, the more leptin in the blood. For overweight people the body appears to be resistant to leptin.
Ghrelin is the hormone that increases appetite. Its action involves releasing signals in the stomach to the brain that cue hunger. This hormone is produced in the gut and travels through the blood stream to the brain to tell the body to get food quickly. The body is smart because research has shown that in people who have eating disorders or who under-eat, ghrelin levels increase. In people who are obese, this hormone reduces. Ghrelin levels naturally rise when the stomach is empty because you are actually hungry. The body is trying to protect itself from starvation. Dieting causes ghrelin levels to increase. That is part of the fight when trying to lose weight.
The mind and body and do have an interesting relationship, one that we would love to have better control of. Foods that are especially high in fat cause major disruption to this communicating relationship between the body and the hunger hormones. There are some self-care tips to balance these hormones. A diet full of healthy carbohydrates and lean protein suppresses ghrelin versus a high fat diet. Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher levels of ghrelin too. Dieting is hard when ghrelin tries to use its power. Having more muscle mass is associated with lower levels of ghrelin, so start lifting those weights. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding extremes will help keep these hormones in check. Hormones are a tricky situation for us all. Poor choices to our eating will eventually catch up, and the hormones like to take advantage of this. Eating poorly only makes you want to eat more. Food is a drug, but be sure not to self-inflict more damage by making impulsive eating decisions. Your body will love you back when you love it.
BLOG 259 TYPES OF LETTUCE
Lettuce is used for multiple dishes in our diets. From burger toppings to salads, this green vegetable also comes in many different varieties. There are multiple health benefits to this green substance. Some of these include lowering inflammation, it’s full of antioxidants, it can help lower cholesterol, and can help control cancer. The minerals found in lettuce include calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins B6, A, E, C, and K. Lettuce originated from the Egyptians who used the seeds to make oil and considered the vegetable to be sacred. Lettuce is scientifically known as Lactuca sativa. Sub-species and cross-pollination lead to the many different types.
There are 14 types of lettuce:
1. Frisee – this is yellow, green, and bitter in taste.
2. Arugala – originated from the Mediterranean.
3. Mizuna – this is deep read and purple.
4. Baby beet greens – these have purple veins.
5. Tatsoi – these have a mustard flavor and come from Asia.
6. Butterhead – the leaves are smooth like butter.
7. Endive – this has an oval shape and tastes bitter.
8. Radicchio – these are deep red and purple with a round shape.
9. Escarole – this is mildly bitter and crisp.
10. Cress – this has a peppery taste.
11. Romain – known for being stiffer than other types.
12. Mache – the leaves are very tiny and often still have soil on them when sold.
13. Looseleaf – this has a mild flavor and ruffled surface.
14. Oakleaf – the leaves look similar to those off an oak tree.
One cup of lettuce, for most varieties, remarkably only contains about 5 calories. One cup has no fat and maybe one carbohydrate. There is no sugar. No wonder it is recommended to have a lettuce wrap versus a traditional hamburger bun. Lettuce is usually a “free for all” when on a diet or when counting calories. It can start off a meal right by filling space in the stomach with good calories so that you don’t eat more later. There are many types, many uses, and many reasons why lettuce should be part of one’s diet. On a side note, It is very important to wash lettuce.
The key is what you have with the lettuce. After all, dousing it in ranch dressing will negate whatever positive intention there was to make a healthy choice. Lettuce is a great tool to find a way to feel full and load the tank with nutrients. Pick your type, have as much as you want, and be sure to wash before consuming.
BLOG 258 IRON Iron is found in every single cell in our body. This essential mineral’s primary role is to create hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Our muscles need hemoglobin in order to store and use oxygen. Iron is also an enzyme in our body that helps us digests food. We get iron from meat, poultry, and fish. Iron from these meats is absorbed 2-3 more than from a plant-based protein. This can be of concern to vegetarians. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption while taking antacids can impede absorption.
If you body is low in iron, you might develop anemia. Causes of iron deficiency include poor diet, or not being able to absorb iron from nutrients, or having experienced an adequate amount of blood loss. Having too little iron is actually the most common type of nutrient deficiency. Symptoms of having low iron includes low body temperature, fatigue, low immunity, a swollen tongue, slow cognitive functioning, and difficulty performing tasks. A blood test would determine the low status. Sometimes the body just needs extra iron. This is especially true for children who are growing and might need more iron than they are able to get from their diet. Losing a lot of blood from donating or having a heavy menstrual cycle means that this blood needs to be replenished.
Too much iron
Taking far too many iron supplements can lead to iron poisoning. Having to much iron also causes fatigue. Skin might become discolored with a gray or brown tone. Abdominal pain might occur. Joint aches, low sex drive, mood swings, hair loss, and irregular heart rhythm might also be symptoms. Iron supplements can be misleading because toxicity doesn’t always match the milligrams. For example, a pill with 200 mg actually contains 65 mg of iron, not 200 mg. An excess of 20 mg in the body can cause toxicity. It is important to stay within the healthy range of 8-18 mg of iron per day.
If a hemoglobin or hematocrit (red blood cell count) test determines you are iron deficient, a doctor might prescribe supplements or adjust your diet.
How much iron do you need??
1. Infants 0-6 months: 0.27 mg per day
2. 7-12 months: 11 mg per day
3. 1 – 3 years: 7 mg per day
4. 4-8 years: 10 mg per day
5. Males: 8 mg per day except during puberty years ages 14-18 they need 11 mg per day
6. Females: need 8 mg per day, ages 14-18 need 15 mg per day, and ages 19-50 need 18 mg per day
7. Pregnant women: need about 27 mg per day
Clams actually contain the highest amount of iron found in food, having 23.8 mg per ounce. Cereals, beef, lentils, and spinach have about 3 mg per serving. Food rich in vitamin C help with absorption.
We need iron in our body. We need protein to thrive for our blood health. When any of the symptoms pertaining to iron deficiency might surface, be sure to contact your doctor. When we eat the proper nutrient, our body absorbs and uses what it needs. However, sometimes we need a little assistance with supplementation. Be iron strong and keep your blood oxygenated for your health.
BLOG 257 CITRUS
Eating citrus is a great way to meet the 5 to 9 recommended servings of fruit. Think of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines and so on. There are many advantages to your health from this sweet treat. There are different types of citrus with different nutrients that provide these healthy benefits. Some of these benefits include assisting the prevention of cardiovascular disease, skin damage and cancer from the sun. Additionally they’re packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, folate, and fiber. We always hear about having citrus when a cold or the flu hits to boost immunity.
Citrus is great for your heart. This type of fruit contains flavonoids which helps lower the LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Flavonoids give citrus its color and flavor. They help eliminate carcinogens form the body and kill cancer cells. Eating fruit versus drinking fruit juice provides 5 times more the flavonoid power because the membranes and white pith of the fruits contain this nutrient. Flavonoids reduce inflammation through their antioxidant power. Yes, fruit has sugar, but citrus is low on the glycemic index. This means it won’t spike your blood sugar. The glucose that fruit does contain is released slowly into the bloodstream. Energy is boosted without the crash later.
This type of fruit is popular for its Vitamin C contents. This type of vitamin helps produce collagen which is beneficial to the skin and tendons. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for men is 90 milligrams and for women 75 milligrams per day. A small orange contains 53 milligrams of vitamin C while ½ grapefruit contains 34 milligrams. Vitamin C has been linked to lowering the risk for heart disease. Vitamin C has the ability to neutralize free radicals that try to damage healthy cells. In doing so, inflammation is avoided and the risk for chronic diseases is reduced. Vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, but it can reduce its duration and severity. Vitamin C will help reduce sickly symptoms.
Citrus is also loaded with fiber. This fruit contains about 60-70% soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels stable. The other 30% or so is insoluble fiber which helps with digestion and constipation prevention. Even a small orange contains 2.4 grams of fiber out of the recommended 25 grams of fiber we should consume per day.
Other benefits include the fact that citrus is loaded in water which means they help with hydration. Oranges are 87% water while grapefruits are 88% water. Their water filled nature means they are low in calories too. Citrus is diet friendly. A 100 gram size orange contains just about 50 calories. Citrus also contains plenty of potassium which can help the body flush out sodium. Citrus is a great choice to add healthy flavor to many options. A healthy community and YOU tops a salad, eats citrus as a snack, with a sandwich, squeezed over fresh fish, or uses it as a dressing. There are many ways citrus can perk up, sweeten up, and add pizzazz to common dishes. Just remember, eat the whole fruit for best nutrient results. Your body and taste buds will thank you.