All posts in Heart health

Fibre foods are fabulous — part of my nutrition book in process

Non-Starch Polysaccharides–AKA Fibre Foods

flax fibre foods nutrition natural health Vancouver BCNon-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.

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5 Healthy things to do in Vancouver on Bonus Day

This is a leap year, so February 29th is kind of like a bonus day. 

Do you often think that you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do or want to do? Well, this year you have an extra 24 hours, so what will you do? Here are some healthy things to do in Vancouver on “bonus day” (or any day, if today’s already booked up).

5 Healthy Things to Do in Vancouver 

healthy things to do in Vancouver acupunctureTake a hike. Sometimes when we’re stressed to the point of wanting to tell someone to “take a hike,” the best thing we can do is take our own advice and take that hike ourselves. Of course Vancouver is close to many wonderful hikes, including those on Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse mountains. If those seem too challenging or you just don’t have the time for those ones, there are several more local (and flatter) walking options, including of course the Stanley Park seawall, Pacific Spirit Park, Lighthouse Park, Burnaby Mountain trails, and one of my fave nearby ones, the False Creek seawall. Some of those are also great cycling options.

Shop for healthy ingredients. If you want to be healthy–and really, why wouldn’t you want that–then you’ll need to make some healthy food choices. First, you’ll need to figure out what you want to make. For some healthy recipes, check out my blog (search “recipe” when you go to my blog) or recipe page, my chef friend’s blog Cooking Journeys, web search what type of nutritious food you’d like to make, or dig out your recipe books or magazines. Right now I love my slow cooker. Doesn’t take too long to make delicious food, and I usually have lots of leftovers. We have so many places in Vancouver to buy healthy food, from Choices and Whole Foods to small markets and local stores like Greens Market and Pomme Market. Even our big chain grocery stores are recognizing our wish for organic, local, and healthy food options. And then there are the farmers markets–gotta love those! 

healthy things to do in Vancouver acupunctureEat out right. Don’t have time to make a healthy meal? No problem, there are a ton of healthy eat-out food options. I don’t eat out much, so perhaps you can chime in via the comments section to list your faves. I like Heirloom, Nuba, and The Naam. I also like to get a pick-me-up from The Juicery Co. 

Do something helpful. If you’ve volunteered for a worthy cause, you know that you feel good about it. But did you know that the benefits may go beyond a simple temporary “I done good” sensation? Studies have shown that donating our time through volunteering helps us ward off loneliness and depression, allowing us to feel more socially connected. Another potential benefit is a lower likelihood of having high blood pressure. That’s huge because hypertension contribute to heart disease, stroke, and premature death. So, giving your time away actually may help you have more time! There are many worthy causes in Vancouver and surrounding areas. I love animals, so I volunteer for Furbearer Defenders. I’ve worked with my friend’s wonderful organization, Beauty Night. And, I’ve done talks for the David Suzuki Foundation. If you’re not sure what you would like to do or how to find out how you can help, check out this online resource Go Volunteer.

Treat yourself well. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the foundation of wellness care and illness prevention. If you are not well, it’s important to address those aspects of your health to get to the source, not just mask them with medications or ignore them. If you are well, it’s important to do what you can to stay well. I recommend seasonal tune-up treatments or monthly treatments (depending on your particular needs) to help you limit the amount of time you spend in pain, tired, depressed or anxious, bloated, or struggling with other health issues. Come in for a TCM and acupuncture tune-up!

What do you recommend for healthy things to do in Vancouver (or anywhere, for that matter)?

 

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Long Live Your Healthy Heart!

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureAccording to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your heart is king. Makes sense. Without it pumping oxygenated blood to the rest of your body, you would be dead. We now have machines that can take the place of the heart, but that was not always the case, and we would rather not have to rely on that, if we can help it. So, in honour of February’s Healthy Heart Month, here are some of my tips, as written in 24 Hours, to help your heart be healthier. Health: Honour King by Using Restraint

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Keep dad healthy for years to come

24 Hours logoIn honour of Father’s Day June 15th, I wrote this article in 24 Hours. But, it’s really about health for all, particularly those with a personal or family history of heart disease. And, really, all of us should be taking extra special care of our hearts. Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the heart to be the “King organ” of our bodies–the most important. So, “Long live the king!”

For the PDF link to my article in 24 Hours Vancouver, click here: Keep dad healthy for years to come

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