Archive for December, 2011

Eating Your Antioxidants: How to Turn Back the Hands of Time and Restore Your Health

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Did you know that aging can be minimized and even reversed and many diseases prevented through the choices we make through our diets? It may sound like voodoo science but it is true.

I understand that the holidays can be stressful, but I encourage you to make your own health a priority and not put off making changes in your diet and lifestyle until New Years!

What I am going to propose is not a diet. It does not involve starving yourself, becoming a vegan, or investing hundreds of dollars in supplements that you don’t need. But, it is a way of looking at food that hopefully will affect the food choices you make.

What I am going to talk about today involves taking you back to science class and discussing three words: free radicals, antioxidants and enzymes.

Free radicals are unstable atoms or molecules consisting of one unpaired electron that seeks out other electrons from DNA, cell membranes, and enzymes. Like a domino effect, free radicals go from one atom to another stealing electrons resulting in cellular damage, aging and even disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Although most commonly thought to exist from polution and toxins in our environment, stress and poor eating habits, free radicals can also even be created from exercise and our own digestive metabolic processes.

Antioxidants are nutrients in our food or supplements that can help prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body, otherwise known as aging or disease. Basically, antioxidants combat free radicals by giving up their own electrons thereby neutralizing the free radicals electronic charge. Unfortunately, our body does not produce antioxidants so they must be obtained elsewhere!

Enzymes are small protein moleules that act as catalysts to break down the food in our system, providing us with nutrients and energy. Not only are fruits and vegetables, and even raw milk, bursting with enzymes but, unlike antioxidants, our body produces and even stores enzymes. Free radicals, though, deplete our enzyme reserves over time which results in aging and disease.

There are three types of enzymes: digestive (run digestive process), metabolic (run our bodies) and food enzymes (exist outside of our bodies in the foods that we eat.)

And, there are three main digestive enzymes: amylase (excreted by salivary glands and breaks down carbohydrates), protease (excreted by stomach and breaks down proteins) and lipase (excreted by pancreas and breaks down fats.) Other enzymes are the gastric enzymes pepsin and hydrochloric acid, which break down food in the small intestine and the pancreatic enzyme bicarbonate, which neutralizes acid or milk enzymes.

So, what does all this mean to me? How can I apply this in my own life to minimize aging?

In a nutshell, your goal should be to reduce free radicals from toxins and stress in your environment and add foods rich in antioxidants and live enzymes into your diet.

Here are some easy steps to take:

1) Up Your Antioxidant and Enzyme Intake and Have a Fresh Fruit or Vegetable at Every Meal.

My rule of thumb is instead of asking yourself about calories every time you sit down from a meal, ask the question “does this food have an antioxidant or enzyme in it and how will it fuel my body?”

Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed not only with antioxidants but also with enzymes. Practically speaking this means that you top your oatmeal with fresh blueberries , have a fresh green salad aside your grilled salmon, pile your sandwich high with tomatos and fresh spinach and have a fresh apple with almond butter for a snack. The more live enzymes and antioxidants you can get in the better!

As a sidenote, also make sure that you have lots of fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables in your diet. Some enzymes are destroyed when the food is heated over 110 degrees and our bodies also use enzymes to digest the food we eat so we want to make sure that we are adding to our enzyme reserve.

Caroline with smoothie

2) Have a Green Smoothie or Green Juice Daily!

Ok, go ahead and have what you want to eat at lunch or dinner but for breakfast or a snack or even alongside a meal add one green drink to your day. When we juice or blend greens and other antioxidant and enzyme-rich foods, we will be able to ingest far more antioxidants and enzymes into our diets.

If you are new to juicing, I encourage you to be open minded and to frequent your local juice bar and health food shop and try it. Smoothies are another great option. Make your favorite fruit smoothie then just throw in some spinach, romaine, kale or other greens. You will be amazed at how good they taste!

3) Minimize Exposure to Toxins in the Environment.

Buy a high quality water filter for your kitchen as well as your shower, overhaul your cleaning supplies and buy natural products like Seventh Generation, purchase an air filter for your home, buy hormone-free meat, fish and eggs and buy organic produce.

4) Reduce Free Radical Damage Caused by Stress

Exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, introduce meditating into your daily life, spend time outdoors with nature and unplug from the tv, computer, iphone, blackberry whatever for a few hours each day.

5) Take Enzymes & Antioxidant Supplements

I know, I know, I know I said I would not recommend tons of supplements. But, digestive enzymes are an exception! I am currently taking a digestive enzyme by Innate, and make sure I particularly take it if I am eating a rich or larger meal the supplement. I am also taking Resveratrol, which is the antioxidant polyphenol found in red wine that activates enzymes called sirtuins increasing DNA, promoting cell survival, and maximizing sugar metabolism. I also take a buffered Vitamin C.

Anti-Aging Recipes

green smoothie

Anti-Aging Smoothie

- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

- 3 stalks of kale (or spinach, romaine, other green)

- 1/2 frozen banana

- handful of blueberries

- 1/2 avocado

- 1 tbsp maca

- 1 scoop Sun Warrior Chocolate Protein Powder

- Few ice cubes

Blend and voila! Delicious and an enzyme and anti-oxidant rich way to start your day or minimize free radical damage after workouts!

kale salad

The Power-Protein Antioxidant Salad

For the salad:

1-2 avocados

1 head of kale (preferably dinosaur of Locinato kale)

1/4 head of red cabbage

2 chopped scallions

1/2 cup dried wakame

½ cup hemp seeds

Diced heirloom tomato (optional but I had one neededto use)

Crunchy sprouts (also optional but adds nice touch)

For the dressing:

¾ cup brazil or macadamian nuts

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp sea salt

¼ cup hemp oil

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup water

Chop kale and cabbage into bite-size pieces and mix into a large bowl along with the wakame and hemp seeds. Dice the scallions and add that to the mix as well.

In a food processor, place the garlic in and chop it up first. Then, add the nuts, ginger, sea salt, hemp oil, lemon and water and process until smooth. Toss the salad with the dressing and then add sliced avocados on top. Any remaining dressing can be saved to use later on top of steamed vegetables or served with raw vegetables as a dip.

Wakame and hemp are both very high in protein and Wakame has a high calcium content as well. This is a wonderful salad to have post-workout or if you are tired or pregnant or….!