Non-Starch Polysaccharides–AKA Fibre Foods
Non-starch polysaccharides is not an easy term to remember, or to market as part of a nutritious diet. More commonly termed dietary fibre, it includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins (though it gets complicated here with the terminology often expanding and changing).
If sugar is considered the “bad boy” in the carbohydrate family, then fibre is treated like the “golden child.” You probably know fibre as that thing that you know you should eat more of, but that doesn’t seem that appetizing. It’s generally not something that your taste buds will crave because it has no taste. Plus, though you have to make the effort to eat it, it leaves your body mostly undigested.
So, what’s the point?
Fibre foods help support digestive health, regulate blood sugar fluctuations, lower elevated cholesterol, help eliminate toxic waste products from the body, prevent colon cancer, and more.
Dietary fibres are most commonly divided into soluble and insoluble fibres. It’s not a perfect division (what in the world is?), but here are some of the benefits and types of food that provide each of these categories. Most whole plant foods contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibres.
Soluble Fibre Foods:
Soluble fibre attracts water, so it turns to a gel when it enters your body, thus slowing your digestive process. Note that if you are supplementing with psyllium husk or any other soluble fibre product, make sure to consume it with a lot of water. Because it creates a gel, insufficient water will make it act more like a plug, causing constipation—uh oh!
- Though fibre is commonly thought of as something that “makes you go,” because it slows the speed of digestion, it also helps manage diarrhea and loose stools.
- It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- It lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
- It reduces the risk of getting intestinal ulcers.
- It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
- It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.
To get more soluble fibre in your diet, include:
- Oats/oat bran
- Psyllium husk
- Other grains like barley, bran, brown rice, and rye
- Black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, soy beans, and other beans
- Tofu, edamame
- Vegetables like asparagus, beets, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, green beans, peas, sweet potato, turnip
- Fruits like apples, apricots, avocado, figs, pears, plums, prunes
- Almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds
Insoluble Fibre Foods:
It makes sense, based off its name, that insoluble fibre does not bind itself to water and turn to gel, like the soluble fibre, but it does absorb water while moving through the digestive system, making for an easier passage. Insoluble fibre is found in many whole foods, but the highest amounts are often found in the parts of the foods that are tougher to chew, like cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and the skin of apples, cucumbers, and grapes.
- It promotes regular bowel movements.
- Because it absorbs water, it adds bulk to the stool to relieve constipation.
- Speeding intestinal transit time helps it move toxic waste through the colon more quickly.
- It assists in blood sugar regulation.
- By optimizing intestinal pH, it helps prevent colon cancer.
- It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
- It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.
To get more insoluble fibre in your diet, include:
- Wheat bran
- Most whole grains, including barley, millet, rye
- Most legumes, including kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, and pinto beans
- Most vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, kale, okra, peas, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, and turnip
- Dried fruits, including dates and prunes
- Berries, peels of apples, apricots, pears, and plums
- Almonds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts
Next month I’ll include my TCM nutrition book section on how to store your oils.
Gluten-free isn’t the only growing health food trend—juicing companies are popping up all over. Juicing has been around for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks juiced pomegranates in 1700 B.C., calling it a love potion. When I was in Turkey last fall, one of my favourite street vendor options was hand juiced oranges or pomegranates. Yum! Still makes my mouth water.
When I was invited to try out the juices at The Juicery Co., I was game. At home, I regularly make smoothies, but I’ve never juiced, so I was curious about meeting Alex, one of the co-founders of this company.
The Juicery Co. was not initially started as a business idea. It began because Alex and her mom wanted to help Alex’s grandfather when he was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer. When they saw how it helped his overall health, they continued developing more juices for themselves, other family member, and friends. Word travelled, and so began the company which started with two stores in North Vancouver.
I visited their newest store at 3570 West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. Beautifully clean and modern, the store is welcoming. Alex chose 4 juices for me to try. They have 18 juice options on their menu and 5 dairy-free raw nut “mylks”. It would be hard to get bored of their flavours!
All their juices are cold-pressed, raw, and organic. Their produce is from Pro Organics and nuts from Real Raw. They buy local and organic, whenever possible. They use glass, reusable bottles (you pay a deposit that is refunded when you return them so they can sterilize them and use them again). They have done their research for ingredients, enlisting the help of health professionals. Check, check, check, check, check, check. But how do they taste? These are the ones I tried.
Looking for a very green green juice? This is just that. I liked the freshness of it. This is a good detox and cooling blend—a good combo to add during a liver cleanse. I thought it might be too intense a green flavour for my husband, but he really liked the leftover bottle I took home. Looking at the list of other “green” category juices they have, I think next time I’d try The Pacific. They had me at mint for that one.
They were smart about how they blended this juice. The addition of black pepper boosts the absorption of the curcumin and other phytonutrients in turmeric to support its anti-inflammatory benefits. The OJ and honey soften the flavour, and the ginger further boosts the anti-inflammatory properties. I’d drink this one regularly, especially as summer activities pump up with more possibility of sports-related soreness and injuries. If you’re not into that, but are into BBQ with beer, martinis on patios, or visits to wineries, the turmeric will also help your liver.
Of the ones I tried, this was my favourite for flavour. Grapefruit juice is my favourite juice. Well, that and pineapple juice (maybe I’ll have to choose The Botanist or The Palms next time!). For someone not used to the stronger flavoured juices, the citrus category may be your easiest start for your palate. Grapefruit juice is refreshing, high in vitamin C, and high in antioxidants. Rosemary is good for your immune system, digestion, and focus and memory. And I love that they have burdock root in this one. Burdock is a great blood cleanser and good for skin issues. Be aware that grapefruit may interfere with the absorption of some pharmaceuticals.
The misspelling of “milk” is intentional here, as “mylk” is not dairy. It’s made from nuts—in this case, Brazil nuts. I had never tried a Brazil nut milk/mylk before. Note that if you choose this one, it’s supposed to be clumpy. That doesn’t mean it’s gone off. If you want something with protein, good fats, and fibre, choose one of the mylk products. Since I’m always hungry, I finished drinking this one first, though I think I’d prefer to keep my greens and my nut drinks separate, so next time I have a nut mylk here, I’ll go for one of the other options that look delicious (from the listing of what’s in them).
In case you can’t get in to one of their stores, The Juicery Co. does deliver. But, if you want some place to meet a friend that isn’t your standard coffee shop, why not meet over a juice? Invite me, I’m in! 😉
Our world is full of chemicals that are toxic to us if allowed to accumulated in our bodies. Toxins are found in food, makeup, skincare products, and cleaning products, but also even in some supplements and herbal products. Canada has much stricter rules regarding these toxic chemicals than some other countries. For this reason, Aryuvedic herbs and Chinese herbal products are highlighted as possible sources for higher levels of these toxins. When patients ask me about the quality of Chinese herbs and other supplements I use–and it’s a good question to ask–I can assure them that the products I use have third party testing for safety and quality. Read more to find out what other things to consider in my 24 Hours Vancouver article, How to Clean Your Food of Toxins.
Happy New Year! Again.
It’s the lunar new year for 2015, and a second chance to do the things that will help make this a great healthy and happy year!
It’s the Year of the Goat, and though we might think of goats as being able to eat and digest anything, it’s really not true. In fact, goats will choose to eat the healthiest foods they can find, so they are actually a good model for us to eat more greens and perhaps even prepare for the detox cleanse time of our upcoming spring.
Check out my article in 24 Hours Vancouver: Eating like a goat means greens
Spring has sprung and with it comes thoughts of spring cleaning, both of household and body. According to traditional Chinese medicine principles, this is the season most connected to working on liver and gallbladder issues, so now is a great time to do a cleanse. Click here to view the actual link or here for the PDF.
I had never before bought an artichoke. I had no idea what to do with it, but I wanted to give it a try because I know its health benefits, including the timely one of helping to support a spring cleanse.
Why do a detox cleanse?
You may have read that the last 60 or so years have brought another approximately 70,000 new chemicals, with only a fraction having been tested. Some of these chemicals have been tied to asthma, allergies, headaches, nausea, pain, mental confusion, sleep problems, and even cancer. It’s hard to avoid all chemicals, as they are found in plastics, electronics, carpets, furniture, food, water, and even your some clothing materials. Your body is designed to remove harmful chemicals, but with the overload that our current environment and lifestyles bring, a regular detox cleanse is an important part of your health routine, and spring is an ideal time to do it.
The awesome artichoke
Of course there are many aspects to a cleanse, but including foods supportive to the detox function, is a great foundation. Artichokes are high in fibre, helping to scrub the intestinal walls and absorb toxins. They also carry the antioxidant flavonoid silymarin–the same component found in milk thistle–a key ingredient for supporting liver health by stimulating cell regeneration.
If you eat the artichoke leaves (remember that the it’s the inner ones you want as the outer ones are too tough), your liver will be better able to break down fatty foods as the cynarin found mostly in the leaves stimulate the liver to produce more bile. It may even help to lower your cholesterol too.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
A bonus benefit of eating artichokes is that it may help you get more satisfaction out of your food without having to add more sweetener. An old study that was later confirmed by research at Yale University found that two thirds of their subjects found even a glass of water to taste sweet after eating an artichoke.
Is there a delicious recipe for artichokes?
Of course there are delicious recipes! I tried a healthy homemade (no cheese) pizza. Make your own, and in addition to artichoke, consider adding these other detoxification support foods:
- Brussels sprouts
I found these online via Dr. Oz and I have to try them soon! I normally try to post recipes I have actually made, but I couldn’t wait to share this one. This is a great one for those who are doing a cleanse or want to get some detoxification benefits. I added my commenta in italics.
Vegetarian Nori Rolls with Nut “Rice” via Dr. Oz
1 cup soaked sunflower seeds (for a couple of hours or more; I often soak them overnight)
1 cup walnuts, soaked in pure water for 2 hours (or longer)
1/4 red onion
Chopped fresh herbs (your choice, I guess; I like basil and oregano for their anti-inflammatory and anti-viral/anti-bacterial benefits)
1 packet of nori wraps
1 carrot, cut into very thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into thin strips
1/2 avocado, cut into strips
1/4 red cabbage, finely shredded
Wheat-free Tamari Soy Sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
To make the “rice,” place the sunflower seeds, walnuts, onion, and herbs in a food processor. Process for 2 minutes, or until nut mixture has the consistency of rice. Set aside. Thinly slice the ginger and marinate in vinegar and water. Take a sheet of nori and spread one-fourth of the rice mixture onto it. Lay carrot, cucumber, red cabbage, avocado, and sprouts over it. Roll the nori up tightly, using a sushi mat if you have one. Cut the roll into about six pieces, using a sharp knife. Repeat for three more nori sheets. Serve wraps on a platter with ginger, wasabi, and wheat-free tamari.
Let me know what you think of this recipe.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season when the liver and gallbladder are most active. With over 500 vital tasks, your liver works very hard. All the blood that leaves your stomach and intestines passes through your liver where it is processed and filtered. The liver also produces bile, which helps to break down fats for further digestion; stores iron; produces cholesterol to carry fats; converts excess glucose into glycogen for storage; supports the immune system; and clears the blood of toxic substances.
Spring is a great time to consider a detoxification cleanse. During this time of year, nature comes to the surface—flowers bloom, grass grows, leaves reappear. Doing a cleanse during the spring season works with the natural flow of the body as we are still a part of nature.
If you are ready to do a cleanse, but have health issues, have never done a cleanse before, find cleansing programs too challenging, or want to go beyond the scope of a basic detox kit, this package may be the right fit for you.
A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consult gets to the root of what will best support your body’s cleansing process by customizing food choices, supplement products, herbals, treatments, and lifestyle activities.
Nutrition consultations will guide you with easy to follow specific meal plans which will focus on the foods recommended by the TCM doctor as well as other liver supportive and detoxifying foods.
Included in the package:
– TCM consultation (30 minutes)
– Nutrition consultation (50 minutes)
– Acupuncture treatment (60 minutes) to support cleanse
– Nutrition consultation follow up (30 minutes)
– 10% Discount coupon for supplements
Cost: $225.00 Incl. tax (Over a $55 Savings)
*If you would like help with the food preparation/cooking part of the process, please contact us for details.
Booooiiiinggg! Spring has sprung. This week I received a letter from my strata. It was our spring seasonal reminder list–make sure the balcony drains are clear, open valves to outside hose connections, etc. This letter reminded me about more than building maintenance things-to-do. It also reminded me to remind you how the shift into spring can affect your health, so I thought I’d do a comparable list to help you get ready.
Household tip: Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.
Body tip: Check in with your own body. Have you been ignoring pains, fatigue, and other symptoms that are trying to alert you? If yes, it’s time to start making changes.
Household tip: Check for winter damage like cracks, leaks, signs of moisture.
Body tip: Check for winter damage. Is your skin dry from the months of heaters? Have you been over-indulging in cold weather comfort foods? Are you stiff and sore from months of couch surfing? Even if you haven’t yet acted on your New Year, New You intentions, it’s not too late. Spring is like a fresh start. Now that you know what you need to work on, you can restart on your path to healthier activities.
Household tip: Spring clean your house. Clean the windows, clear your drains and gutters, get into the nooks and crannies to clean out the dust, dirt, and mold.
Body tip: Time to detoxify! Spring is a great time to do a cleanse. This is when your body is best set up to cleanse, so make good use of it. If you have health issues, have never done a cleanse before, find cleansing too challenging, or would like to go beyond the basic detox kit, Connect Health’s nutritionists and I have paired up to offer a TCM/Nutrition Cleanse.
Household tip: Open windows to let some fresh air inside.
Body tip: Get outside and breathe in some fresh air. If you’ve been hiding indoors to avoid the cold, snow, or in the case of Vancouver, the rain, find ways to get outside more.
Have you been thinking that you’d like to do a detoxifying cleanse, but really are not good at taking supplements diligently? Well, there is another option. But first, let’s learn about three systems essential to eliminating toxins from your body.
The lymphatic system is often forgotten when it comes to cleansing, but this system is incredibly important. When it is not working well, you might suffer from swelling, inflammation, aches and pains, and bloating. The lymphatic system is a complex system that includes fluid-filled vessels, ducts, and glands –including the tonsils, spleen, and thymus. Its function is to carry toxins and waste away from the tissues.
According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, “the liver is the largest internal and most metabolically complex organ in humans.” It is a very busy organ with over five hundred different jobs, including neutralizing toxins, fighting infection, clotting blood, making hormones, and regulating blood sugar. The liver plays an important role in cleansing the blood by metabolizing alcohol and chemicals and neutralizing and destroying poisonous substances in the body.
The kidneys are also vital in eliminating waste from our bodies. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, toxic waste products are not properly eliminated, blood pressure is not well regulated, and key hormones are not made.
We demand a lot from these incredibly important systems, and though they are designed to repair their own damaged cells, we are exposed to more and more toxins, all while modern lifestyles mean that we are putting an ever-increasing demand on our bodies.
I often recommend a cleansing kit of supplements to help the body manage the toxic load and support the organ systems in their tasks of detoxification. But there is another solution. An injection therapy called biopuncture using the remedies Lymphdiaral (for the lymphatic system), Quassia (for the liver), and Pascorenal (for the kidneys) can be done instead. Simple superficial injections are done once a month or more or less frequently, depending on your individual situation.