The Truth About Legumes

Cavemen didn’t eat beans. Right?

If you are familiar with the “Paleo Diet,” you are aware that legumes are certainly not on the menu. The reason for the exclusion of legumes is the simple fact that legumes contain phytic acid (which blocks the absorption of some minerals) and lectins (which damage the small intestine). Seems legit, right?

Well, what if I were to tell you that there are several foods that are embraced by the Paleo community that contain far more levels of one or both of these “harmful substances” than do legumes?

One perfect example is nuts. Many nuts contain greater levels of phytic acid than legumes, yet paleo followers gladly pop handfuls of almonds into their mouths without thinking twice. Why is this acceptable while enjoying a small serving of pinto beans in my burrito bowl is frowned upon?

One thing that is becoming increasingly obvious to me about the paleo diet is that the “spokes people” of the lifestyle (Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, etc.) as well as many other followers will do whatever they can do back up the “story” of the paleo diet (not trying to point fingers! These people are wonderful and offer some great info, too!). You know, the whole “only eat what was available to our ancient ancestors before agriculture” story. This sounds great at first, but can be extremely harmful when science and current research that contradicts the diet is ignored, simply because it doesn’t follow the storyline.

A great article about legumes by Chris Kresser goes into more detail about whether or not legume consumption is beneficial or harmful. Here are a few key points I’ve chosen to highlight for you, just in case you don’t want to read the entire article:

To my knowledge there’s only one study demonstrating humans being harmed by consuming legumes. This is the study often used by Paleo advocates to “prove” that legumes are dangerous. However, what is often neglected is that this study described a case of food poisoning that occurred in hospital patients who ate legumes that hadn’t been cooked properly. Suggesting that we shouldn’t eat cooked legumes because raw legumes cause disease is like saying that we shouldn’t eat cooked chicken because we can get Salmonella from eating raw chicken…

In fact, cooking legumes for as little as 15 minutes or pressure-cooking them for 7.5 minutes almost completely inactivates the lectins they contain, leaving no residual lectin activity in properly cooked legumes.

The problem with telling people to avoid legumes because they contain phytic acid is that many other foods in the diet—including “Paleo-friendly” foods—contain substantially higher amounts of phytic acid than legumes. For example, a serving of trail mix, that beloved Paleo favorite, is likely to be much higher in phytic acid than a serving of lentils. Cacao beans (chocolate) have about the same amount of phytic acid as most beans. And spinach and swiss chard are higher in phytic acid than almost any legume, nut or seed!

-Chris Kresser

 

Kresser also mentions a few foods that are totally 100% “paleo” that contain higher levels of phytic acid than legumes: sesame seeds, Swiss chard, and spinach. Take what you want from the article, but I have decided that I will allow small amounts of legumes into my diet. The benefits of eating a small amount of legumes seem to outweigh any drawbacks for me personally, but you can take this information or leave it. I think that the phytic acid and lectin arguments are moot at this point.

I recently watched an interview with Abel James from The Fat Burning Man and Dr. Fuhrman who is a physician and proper nutrition advocate. The two discussed the dangers of following any specific diet and touched upon legumes, grains, and other dogmas of the paleo diet. It’s a great interview, and I suggest you watch it if you are at all interested in the subject! Here’s a link to the video.

What are your thoughts on legumes and the restrictions of the paleo diet? I’d love to hear your opinions 🙂

 

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Why You Probably Should Be Drinking More Water

Water. We all need to drink it to survive, but how much is enough? If you are like most Americans, you probably aren’t drinking nearly enough to stay fully hydrated throughout your day.

Recommendations on optimal water consumption differ depending on who you’re talking to. Many people suggest drinking 8 glasses of water per day, while the Mayo Clinic recommends women drink 2.2 Liters while men should drink 3 Liters (or about 100 oz) of water per day.

Other sources will tell you to drink at least 1 oz. of water per pound of body weight. This seems a little closer to what I believe is optimal, at least for myself.

I’m definitely not a medical doctor, and am not qualified to recommend any specific quantity of water for you to drink per day. What I have found what works for me, however, is much more than what has been recommended by medical and fitness professionals.

On any given day, I typically drink between 6-10 liters of water (which translates to 200+ ounces, sipped on throughout the day, not chugged all at once), depending on my activity level on any given day. On days when I have a challenging workout I drink more water than those with minimal physical activity. This is more than triple the volume of water recommended by most sources. When I drink less than this, I begin to feel dehydrated and lethargic.

My typical daily water intake looks like this:

Morning: 1 cup of coffee + 2 liters of water before lunch time
Afternoon: About 2 liters of water from 1pm-5pm
Evening: About 2 liters of water from dinner time to bedtime + 1-2 cups of herbal tea

The Benefits of Drinking Plenty of Water

  • Water flushes out toxins and cleanses the body.
  • Water supports healthy kidney function.
  • Drinking plenty of water will help your skin look younger and healthy. Maybe even radiant 😉
  • Aids digestion and keeps things moving.
  • Can help relieve and prevent headaches  or migraines.

Tips for Drinking More Water Throughout the Day

  1. Keep a refillable water body on hand at all times. If your water is sitting on the desk in front of you all day, you are more likely to remember to drink it.
  2. Right when you wake up in the morning, drink a minimum of 8oz of water (up to a 1 liter is extremely beneficial). Since you’ve been sleeping all night, your body has become dehydrated. It’s important to get that water in!
  3. Water too boring for you? Try adding some lemon slices or frozen berries to give it some flavor. Just fill up a container with water, add the fruit, and refrigerate it over night. In the morning, strain the fruit out and enjoy all the benefits of water with some added flavor and vitamins!

 

What about coffee or soda? Do those count towards my water intake for the day?

 My answer – NO. Since coffee is a diuretic, I don’t think it gives the same lasting benefits as a glass of water. It may even work against your water intake, since it flushes fluid out of your body. As for any type of sugary or alcoholic drink (soda, juice, sweetened iced tea, beer, martini, etc.), this does not count towards your water intake. Alcohol actually dehydrates you. As for the sugary drinks, enjoying them in moderation is fine (fine, but not encouraged), but you should not guzzle down soda after soda because you think it is hydrating you. Think of it more as a dessert than a tool to hydrate your body. If you must drink sugary drinks, try to only enjoy them only in moderation.

 

To summarize… 

If you know you aren’t drinking enough water (you know who you are!), make a conscious effort to up your intake! Drink a few glasses as soon as you wake up, and keep a refillable bottle full of water near you all day.

 

urinechart

 

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html

Looking for Some Bikini Body Motivation?

Hey everyone! This post is aimed towards the ladies out there, but gentlemen, feel free to keep on reading if you please. This week was the launch of the annual Bikini Series hosted by Tone it Up. It is an 8 week (7 weeks left) fitness program that takes us all the way to the first day of summer…June 21.

Each day, the trainers Karena and Katrina post a new workout as well as tips and tricks to staying on track towards your goals. They have various fitness videos on their website and on YouTube, which seem pretty easy, but as with most workouts, you get what you put into it. I love mixing up my fitness routine once a year when their Bikini Series comes around. It’s always a great motivator to prepare for summer.

If you’re interested in joining a community of ladies who share a common goal of getting fit, you should definitely check this out. It’s not too late to join! Click here to find out more.

Tone-It-Up-BIKINI-SERIES-2014-karenakatrina

 

Remember to stay active and moving! This should be increasingly easier now that the weather is warming up.

Well, I’m off to the lake to get in a little wake boarding this morning. Until next time!

Juice Me! Rainbow Juice Recipe

We’ve all heard from a number of sources that we should eat more vegetables. Vegetables are arguably the most beneficial and nutritious foods you can possibly eat, giving you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and can even help prevent cancer. There are a number of ways you can get those veggies into your diet, including eating them raw, cooked, or even juiced.

Personally, I make a conscious effort to eat as many vegetables as possible. I get a minimum of 1 serving in with every meal (yes, including breakfast), and for lunch and dinner I often have 4-5 servings each. But I wanted to intake even more nutrients from these superfoods, so I turned to juicing.

Fresh juice (not pre-packaged crap you find in bottles) provides you with all the vitamins and minerals of the whole vegetable, minus the fiber. Juice allows you intake more than you would be able to if you were to eat the whole vegetable or fruit, because the juice contains far less mass than the complete fibrous veggie. I’m not recommending you replace your daily vegetables with juice, but you can certainly add juice into your diet to supplement it with extra veggies.

This juice recipe is the most delicious I’ve tried so far, and it will be sure to leave you feeling refreshed and energized. Try it out and let me know what you think! 🙂

juice

 

Just put all the ingredients through a juicer and stir it all together before you drink it. Enjoy! 🙂

Why Go Organic?

 

 

We’ve all had the moment while walking through the grocery store when we see two seemingly-identicle bins of fruits or vegetables next to each other with one obvious exception: the price. We think to ourselves: “Why would I pay twice as much for these apples, when I can just buy these ones?” This logic seems reasonable, until you learn the true difference between the two.

The cheaper produce I was referring to is termed “conventional.” These fruits and vegetables are treated with pesticides (usually synthetic), are often chemically-ripened, and are probably genetically modified (GMOs…eek!!). They are nowhere near to being grown in the way nature intended, which dramatically reduces their amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial micronutrients that are essential for a healthy diet.

Why have we, as a society, changed the way our food is grown? Simple explanation. Profit. By using these “conventional” farming practices, produce grows and ripens faster, lasts longer without spoiling, and can be mass-produced for increased earnings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to support these huge corporations that are purely profit-driven, and who have lost sight of what truly matters: feeding society with quality food.

That’s where the beauty of organic farming comes in. Organic farming uses no artificial fertilizers, pesticides, are not chemically ripened, and if the produce is “Certified Organic,” then you can rest assured that it is not genetically modified. These seem like some great benefits of organic farming and produce, but the list of positives is just beginning.

Great Benefits of Organic Farming:

  • It’s better for the environment. Organic farming means no chemicals being put into the water and earth. Everyone benefits from that!
  • You aren’t ingesting tons of chemicals that reek havoc on your body.
  • Deliciousness. Have you ever eaten an organic strawberry? If you haven’t, you need to do that. Right now. Unless you are allergic, of course. Try eating a conventional strawberry, then follow it up with an organic one. The difference is mind-blowing.
  • Nutrient density. Organic produce offers a higher percentage of awesome nutrients than conventional. That means more vitamins and minerals, which is great for your health!
  • Supporting small and local businesses. Most organic farmers do their farming on a smaller scale, and sell their produce locally. This is great for your local economy, and helps take away business from the huge conventional factory farms (buying organic may even persuade some of the corporate farming agencies to switch to organic practices…who knows?)

These are all amazing reasons to switch to organic produce if you haven’t already. But these are only the benefits of organic produce…there are still a multitude of great things about organic meat and eggs that I haven’t mentioned (post to follow). For now, check out the chart below for a quick explanation of what organic really means. It may surprise you!
organci

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: http://truefoodsmarket.com/organic-food

The Zombie Run

Being active is extremely important for overall health. Does this mean that you must spend hours upon hours in the gym? Absolutely not! Getting plenty of exercise can be fun and exciting…and can even include…zombies

Just as the zombie craze is picking up in regards to television and movies, it is also gaining popularity in the fitness arena. The Zombie Run is a 5k where “zombies” chase after you, trying to steal your flags (a.k.a. life), while you run and complete several obstacles. I participated in The Zombie Run in Sacramento about a month ago, and I have to say, it was the most entertaining 5k I’ve ever ran.

I'm on the left! :)

I’m on the left! 🙂

 

I did this run with some of my family and my boyfriend. There were all different types of obstacles, ranging from mud pits that you must run through to 15 foot walls to climb over. It was extremely fun and a great team-building event that I highly recommend. It was much more of a “fun run” than a serious 5k (if that’s not obvious), as they didn’t even have a clock going for people to see their times coming in. But it was extremely entertaining!

If you’ve participated in The Zombie Run or other mud runs, another great one to do is Tough Mudder. This is a much more serious event, consisting of a 10-12 mile run with 20 obstacles that are much more daunting than those found at The Zombie Run. I completed this one with a group of friends last summer, and it was very challenging! It took us about 5 hours to complete.

If you’re looking for something fun to spice up your exercise and activities, I recommend trying out one of these mud runs. So much fun, you hardly realize you are working out.

But Where Do You Get Your CALCIUM??

“So you don’t eat dairy? But where do you get your calcium??”

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked about my diet. No, I don’t consume any dairy products. And no, I’m not at all worried about getting enough calcium. Why? Let me explain.

It is a complete fallacy that milk and other dairy products are the best and/or only source of calcium. The U.S, along with multiple other developed countries, have been brainwashed into believing that if you want strong bones, you must drink milk. According to the new American food pyramid for 2014, you should consume 3 cups of dairy per day. HA! (About 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant…so why is dairy so high on the food pyramid? Doesn’t make sense.)

There are many whole-food sources of calcium that most people are unaware of, kale being the best example. Just 1/2 cup of kale has 205mg of calcium, compared to only 150mg in 1/2 cup of milk. For a comparison of other food choices and their calcium levels, see the chart below.

 

Source: Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. - thepaleomom.com

Source: Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. – thepaleomom.com

 

Clearly, many vegetables and leafy greens are great sources of calcium. Almonds and salmon are good choices as well, and they also contain healthy fats and other great nutrients. To strengthen my argument, let’s take a look at absorbability, shall we?

In this study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they compared the absorbability of calcium in kale and in milk. The results showed that the calcium in kale was more easily absorbed and had better bioavailability than the calcium in milk (by about 10%). So when you eat kale, you are not only ingesting more calcium, but you are also absorbing a higher percentage of it as well.

The bottom line: if you’re looking to increase your calcium consumption, eat more kale! For an easy snack, try out my recipe for Crunchy Kale Chips. They are tasty and great for you!

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 5.31.00 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/2013/09/why-dont-i-need-to-worry-about-calcium-2.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/daily/graphics/diet_042005.html

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/03/over-75-of-earths-population-is-lactose-intolerant-for-a-reason-dairy-is-harmful/

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/51/4/656.full.pdf+html