Eggs revisited

Eggs and other foods containing cholesterol have been given an extremely bad wrap over the past 30-years; yet, contemporary research is revealing that cholesterol might not be the cause of cardiovascular disease after all. Rather, the biggest culprit of metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease) is the health degrading combination of an American high-carb diet (refined flour, starches, and sugars) with a physically inactive lifestyle. So, don’t ditch the eggs and bacon – lose the donuts and pancakes! Eggs shouldn’t be avoided because of their high cholesterol content.

Every egg is loaded with six grams of high quality protein!  Eggs also contain important nutrients that many people don’t get enough of in their diets, such as choline, biotin, and selenium. And if it didn’t get any better, eggs are an extremely versatile food (fry em’, boil em’, scramble em’), delivered in biodegradable, compostable, and edible packaging.  Thats right, edible – in fact, up until a few years ago, it was common for people to eat the shells, which are 98% calcium!  For more information on eggs, cholesterol, and heart health, click the link below:

Dr. Katz from Yale University on Eggs and Cholesterol

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” -Luke 11:11-13. According to Jesus, eggs are a good gift! Interestingly enough, he also mentions fish, which are also incredibly good for health!

Originally posted 2011-04-06 17:12:00.

The Importance of Chewing Your Food

We pay good money for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meat, but are our bodies making the most out of all the nutrients they contain?

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of food is by thoroughly chewing it! Chewing food releases more flavor as well as more nutrients. This is probably obvious, but our stomachs don’t have teeth. Our stomachs use some mechanical action to digest our food, as well as enzymes and acids, but food must be well-chewed in order to obtain the maximum benefits from it. Chewing increases the total surface area of food, allowing for better digestion of macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbs) and micronutrients (vitamin, minerals, antioxidants).

Researchers have confirmed the importance of chewing food.  Many powerful nutrients in foods like leafy greens and garlic are not activated until they are crushed. When garlic is chopped or crushed (or well chewed) it releases a potent nutrient called allicin, as well as antioxidants called polysulfides. [1] Also, several recent studies using almonds discovered that well chewed almonds have an increased bio-availability of nutrients (like antioxidant vitamin E, healthy fats, and protein), produce a more rapid decline of insulin levels than less chewed almonds, and more effectively suppress feelings of hunger than less chewed almonds! [2][3] At CREUS we are guessing, based on this research and the facts that God gave us teeth and made food taste really good, that thorough chewing maximizes the benefits of all foods.

The moral of the story? Savor the flavor of your foods – you will fill more satisfied and obtain the maximum nutrition from the food you purchase and prepare.

Bon appetit!

Originally posted 2011-04-01 01:08:00.

Peace – healthy for your heart and mind

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

In Western culture we have a tendency to make sharp distinctions between the physical and spiritual world; yet, God’s word and experience teach that body, soul, and spirit are uniquely intertwined. Often the spiritual world has a greater impact on our physical reality than we realize. Our level of trust on God can have a direct effect on our health. Recent research has confirmed what people have always known, that psychological stressors affect physical health in a drastic way. Psychological stress can result from major life events such as a divorce or a loss in the family, repeated daily stressors (like work or school), and negative interpersonal relationships. What is stressful to one person, however, may or may not be stressful to another, because stress is largely based on individual perceptions.

While stressors don’t necessarily have spiritual causes, they often can: unforgiveness, hate, fear, and pride are a few examples. Yet, no matter the stressor, it can and should be dealt with in a spiritual way (physical coping methods like exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating play important but secondary roles). According to Philippians 4:6-7, if we take our stressful situations to God, he will give us peace. The one condition is that we do it with thanksgiving. Thankfulness requires faith that God is good despite the circumstances, it also promotes a positive focus on the good things God is doing or has already done, rather than on what is causing anxiety in the moment. If we approach our Father with this attitude, he promises that his peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

The protection of our hearts and minds with God’s peace becomes especially important when we consider the researched consequences of anxiety and stress. One study looked at daily stressors experienced in the work place and found a direct correlation, independent of other factors, between long-term workplace stress and metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease). [1] Another meta-study found that stress greatly weakens the immune system, significantly lowering blood levels of important T and B Cells (cells that fight against viruses, toxins, and cancer). [2] Also, multiple studies have demonstrated correlations between long-term stress and psychological disorders.[3] Looking at these studies as a whole, it becomes clear that stress may be one of the most significant factors of poor health.

So, while exercise and good nutrition are important components of vitality, a healthy heart and mind depend on the peace of God. The spiritual laws of his kingdom have the greatest bearing on reality, and according to God’s word, “…the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

[1] British Medical Journal
[2] Psychosomatic Medicine
[3] American Journal of Community Psychology

Originally posted 2011-03-29 15:28:00.

How many fruits and vegetables do we need daily?

Optimum health absolutely depends on eating enough fruits and vegetables everyday. They are chalk full of important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients (like quercetin and lutein), polysterols, polyphenols, antioxidants, as well as healthy sugar and fiber. The complexity of these nutrients in their natural forms provide synergistic health benefits that are still a mystery to researchers, benefits that isolated supplements alone don’t provide. Check out the impressive list of recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable intake:

According to the American Cancer Society, adults should eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily to help prevent cancer.[1] The Linus Paulings Institute, Oregon State University’s micronutrient research lab recommends “four servings (2 cups) of fruit and five servings (2½ cups) of vegetables daily,” not including white potatoes, for a total of 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.” [2] The FDA says, ” Moderate evidence indicates that intake of at least 2½ cups [5 servings] of vegetables and fruits per day is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Some vegetables and fruits may be protective against certain types of cancer.”[3] And finally, The Center for Disease Control recommends eating more fruits and vegetables as well. You can use their handy calculator to help you determine how many fruits and vegetables you need each day based on your caloric intake: Fruit and Veggie Calculator

Yet despite all these recommendations, only 1% of children and 3% of adults consume the daily amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the FDA (an amount which isn’t very high)! I learned about this statistic at a local presentation entitled “Food Justice,” which was primarily about US agricultural and farm policy. Two speakers gave the presentation, one from the Environmental Working Group and the other from Bread for the World. Given the dismal statistic they provided, it is no wonder that disease and obesity are so prevalent in our society! The presenters discussed some of the barriers to eating healthy, including the expensive cost of fruits and vegetables, as well as the lack of access to stores that offer fresh fruits and vegetables (although not as big an issue in Northern California, where fruit and vegetable crops abound). They also argued that a large part of the problem is the disproportionate amount of subsidies the government offers farmers for growing cereal crops, rather than fruit and vegetables. The Farm Bill, which determines the amount and dispersion of subsidies, allocated 170 billion dollars (70% of subsidies over 15 years) for just five grain crops and no subsidies to fruits and vegetable crops, which are considered “specialty crops.” Approximately 50% of the grains went to feeding livestock, and 30% to ethanol.[4][5]

Perhaps one of the best ways to combat this problem is for people to start growing their own vegetables: home and community gardens. Those of us with access to farmer’s markets can also support our local farmers, who usually offer fresher produce with less pesticides than what is found at the local supermarket. Check out the following database to find access to fresh produce near you: Local Harvest

[1]A Cancer Journal for Clinicians
[2]Linus Pauling Institute, Rx for Health
[3]FDA Food Guidelines
[4]Environmental Working Group, “National Analysis”
[5]“Specialty Crops and the 2007 Farm Bill” by Mechel Paggi

Originally posted 2011-03-21 01:48:00.

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

The health benefits of dark chocolate have been well covered by the media, but ongoing research is revealing more wonderful news! Are you looking for an indulgent treat that you can feel good about eating? Maybe you already love chocolate but thought you had to cut out all candy. Well, I have good news — dark chocolate is a creation-based food that you can keep in your diet!

Unfortunately for all you milk chocolate lovers and super sweet tooths, it’s only dark chocolate that has the health benefits. Apparently the milk in the milk chocolate prevents the antioxidant benefits from being absorbed by the body. Also, “dark chocolate” with a lot of added sugar, isn’t truly dark. To get the maximum health benefits, you want to eat your chocolate as dark as possible; I’d say at least 75% pure chocolate. Keep in mind that candy isn’t the only way to enjoy chocolate either. There are a variety of ways to incorporate chocolate in both sweet and savory foods!

Nutritionally, dark chocolate is healthy because it’s loaded with flavonoids and minerals. It’s especially high in one flavanoid called epicathechin, which acts as an anti-oxidant and supports cardiovascular health.[1] Chocolate is also a vasodialator (meaning it expands your blood vessels). A recent study demonstrated that dark chocolate causes a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in insulin sensitivity (both tremendous health benefits) shortly after eating.[2] Another study demonstrated that dark chocolate causes the adhesion of platelets to artery walls to decrease, thus reducing the build up of arterial plaque.[3]
The anti-oxidant benefits of dark chocolate also contribute to it’s ability to lessen the amount of skin damage caused by sun exposure, making it a great post sun-tanning treat (perhaps as a banana and dark chocolate smoothie?).

In addition to containing powerful antioxidants, dark chocolate also supplies an impressive list of nutrients, like iron, magnesium, copper, fiber, and protein. The magnesium chocolate contains is especially valuable, as many Americans are magnesium deficient (by about 100 mg per day). Magnesium is vital for optimum cardiovascular health and energy production. Finally, dark chocolate contains lots of pure energy from saturated fats! You may be surprised that I list this as a good thing, but saturated fats are easily used by the body as fuel, and they don’t cause a spike in insulin or throw off the important Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio.

If dark chocolate is too bitter for your taste, give it a few tries and it might grow on you! I eat an 85% dark chocolate bar on a regular basis and now the 72% bars taste too sweet and not complex enough in flavor. Trader Joe’s has a delicious 85% dark chocolate bar for only $1.49. CBH also offers Organic Cocoa Nibs (pure dark chocolate), which can be used in a variety of recipes. Try them out and enjoy – your heart and taste buds will thank you! If you have a favorite type of dark chocolate, share it with the rest of us by posting a comment below!

Originally posted 2011-03-18 06:12:00.

Walking for weight-loss and cardiovascular health

Walking is an easy and simple way to start laying a foundation for optimum health. Walking offers a number of health benefits without having to work up a sweat. It’s a great way to ease into fitness, get outside with loved ones, or to unwind after a day at work. According to the Mayo Heart Clinic, some of walking’s benefits include: burning calories, lowering bad cholesterol, increasing bone density, decreasing the risk for disease, and improving cardiovascular health. The fresh air and sunshine obtained outdoors can also help relieve stress!

Before cars and other mechanized modes of transportation (and where people still go without such means) walking was and is the main form of transportation. When my wife and I lived in Ukraine for six months we walked almost everywhere, and it felt great! Ease of transportation and busy schedules in the U.S., however, deter most people from taking regular walks. “Taking a walk” usually requires concerted effort and planning. The reason is that walking has become an extra activity done solely for enjoyment or exercise purposes.

Incorporating walking into a healthy lifestyle is a great way to get more exercise and reduce stress levels on a daily basis. I’ve found that if I give myself a little extra time, I can walk as a means of transportation, which allows me to obtain exercise and get where I need to go at the same time. If you don’t live too far away, try walking to the store or post office next time instead of driving – you’ll be able to accomplish all of the following at once: exercise, breathing fresh air, meditation or prayer, relaxation, and an errand!

Originally posted 2011-02-17 21:00:00.

Benefits of Using a Squatty Potty – a measure against hemorrhoids and colon cancer?

While most people in U.S. are accustomed to using the modern toilet, there’s reason to believe that squatting is superior to sitting for purposes of elimination. Toilets as we know them are a relatively modern invention – throughout history and in most of the world today, people squat to relieve themselves. Biological evidence suggests that our bodies were designed to most efficiently answer the call of nature in the squatting position. Squatting is also the most natural position to take if unaided by toilet technology.

Research suggests that squatting may prevent colon cancer, cure hemorrhoids, relieve constipation, and prevent a number of other health problems. The detrimental health effects of sitting rather than squatting result from the differing position of the intestines. The sitting position required by using the toilet puts a kink in the large colon, resulting in unnecessary strain (which causes hemorrhoids) and incomplete elimination (which can cause colon cancer). By contrast, the squatting position puts the intestines in the right alignment for complete and effortless elimination. The practice of squatting also improves posture and strengthens the legs. Moreover, for women, squatting can prepare the body for natural, less-painful birthing.

A host of health problems are virtually unknown to most of of the world’s population, because most of the world squats to answer the call of nature. You can join the majority in good colon and intestinal health by making a simple change of habit. For more information about the history and evidence supporting squatting for optimum health, or to purchase your own squatty potty, I recommend visiting Squatty Potty LLC.

Originally posted 2011-02-07 21:01:00.

The importance of failure — lessons from weight-training.

 

I’ve been weight-lifting off and on for about fifteen-years now. My primary purpose for weight lifting has been to stay lean and strong, ready for any outdoor sport or household chore. I’ve usually set some goals along the way too, like working toward a heavier bench-press, squat, or lat pull-down, but often times I’ve shown up at the gym only to go through the motions. Sometimes going through the motions is better than nothing, but it’s not the way I want to live.


One thing I’ve learned is that life is only truly lived when It’s lived intentionally.

Whether weight-lifting or loving my family, excellence requires a giving of self, risk, the chance of failure. In fact, I would even argue that a life without failure is no life at all. If we aren’t providing ourselves with opportunities to fail are we really living meaningful lives?  

Earlier this week I realized that weight-lifting provides a perfect analogy for the importance of failure. For the last several months I’ve been trying to push myself in several different lifts in order to build strength and improve my speed for the 100 meter dash. The thing is, I really wasn’t pushing myself to my full-potential. I was satisfied with reaching arbitrary goals, like accomplishing 4 sets of 10 repetitions with a certain weight, but I wasn’t getting stronger. Then I remembered that making strength gains requires overcoming mental barriers and pushing my muscles to new limits — it requires FAILURE.  

Ask any professional athlete or strength trainer and he or she will tell you the same thing; if you want to get stronger you have to push your muscles until they can’t perform a given exercise for even one more repetition. It’s only when you get to the point of muscle failure that you’re challenging your body to make new gains.

The same is true in life. If we don’t put ourselves in situations that provide opportunities for failure then we aren’t providing opportunities for growth and fruitfulness.  

Failure in anything can be difficult. Being OK with failing in front of others requires a firm sense of identity and a proper perspective. It’s easy to make the mistake of focusing on failures instead of using failures to help us get closer to a goal. But what happens when we focus on our failures instead of our purpose and value as human beings is that failure can secretly and subconsciously become a goal in and of itself. Don’t be afraid of failure but don’t focus on it either.  

Whatever you do, do it do the fullest. When you fail, use that failure as a learning opportunity, a means of becoming a better person. Failure isn’t something we are — it’s just something we do. It’s something we need to do in order to live and succeed!

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Originally posted 2014-01-08 16:33:23.

Barefoot running

If you haven’t heard about it yet, running barefooted is quickly becoming one of the newest trends in running!  For entertainment value, if nothing else, numerous news channels and newspapers have covered the growing phenomenon.  At first glance, most people are repelled by the idea of running without shoes on.  There is a stigma in our society against going barefooted, and shoe companies have done a pretty good job at convincing us that we can do everything better with a new pair of Jordan’s.

Besides, running barefooted sounds plain painful.  What about glass, nails, and rocks?  Well, for one, God gave us a wonderful set of apparatuses called “eyes” that we can use to look for rocks and glass.  But what if I am flat footed or have bad knees?  Well, the jury isn’t completely out, but several studies and lots of experience have shown that running barefoot is actually better for your joints.  And if you believe that an Intelligent Designer created us, it makes sense that running barefoot, or at least with minimalistic shoes/sandals that nearly mimic going barefoot, would be good for us.  Our feet and knees are amazingly designed to absorb shocks and propel us forward when given the unrestrained chance to do so.  The reason our feet have more nerve endings than almost any other part of our body is to teach us how to properly walk and run.  Unfortunately, since we wear shoes most of our lives, we never let our feet “teach us” how to run softly.  As a result, many people incur knee and other injuries from poor running form.

Running with shoes causes most people to land heel first, which sends a significant jolt of energy directly through the knees and spine.  By contrast, running barefoot promotes the tendency to land on the balls of the feet first.  By landing forefoot first, the arch of the foot and the knees are activated to smoothly absorb the shock and propel the runner forward. A recently Harvard Study vividly explains the mechanics of this operation.

I have been barefoot running for about a year now.  My feet and calves have gotten stronger, and I haven’t had any knee pain or shin splints (which were regular occurrences when I ran with shoes).  I highly recommend tossing the shoes aside and letting your feet feel the earth (or concrete) beneath you.  However, it takes some practice getting used to, and you should start out slowly.  If you’re like me, your feet have been contained in shoes most of your life, and it will take them a little time to get used to the new freedom!  Before you start take the time to read this “how to run barefoot” guide by “Barefoot Bob.”

Natives of North American ran barefooted or with minimal footwear up until only the last few hundred years. In our modern arrogance, we thought running barefooted or with mocassins was “primitive” and “unadvanced.”  During the last 50 years the soles of our shoes have been getting thicker and thicker to lessen the jolt caused by shoe-induced heel striking, but it turns out that primal people had it right all along!  Yet, even despite Nike’s attempt to put shoes on every soul, many people in the world continue to run barefooted.  Kenyan runners grow up running barefoot, and they are some of the most renowned runners in the world.  The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico often run upwards of 100 miles in a day with nothing but a thin pair of sandals called “huaraches.”  If you run in an especially rocky area, minimalistic footware may be more comfortable than running completely barefooted.  You can buy or learn how to make your own huaraches here.

Let your toes wiggle, and use the naturally water proof, advance shock absorbing feet God gave you and run!

Originally posted 2011-02-07 17:08:00.

Is quinoa fattening?

Quinoa has quickly become one of the most popular health foods on the market. It’s high in protein and fiber, it’s gluten-free, and it’s a good source of a number of vitamin and minerals. But… is quinoa fattening? Quinoa is relatively high in calories, and it can require a few extra “fixings” to make it taste good, so this is actually not a bad question — especially if you’re trying to lose a few extra pounds.

The answer to the question “Is quinoa fattening?” is a little more nuanced than whether or not quinoa contains fat. With only 4 grams of fat per 1 cup serving, quinoa is actually a low fat food. What really gives quinoa its potential to be fattening is the total amount of calories and carbohydrates it contains. In 1 cup of quinoa there are 222 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrates. 

If you think about it though, 222 calories really isn’t that much. Even if your daily caloric need is low and you’re on a 1,000 calorie diet, 222 calories would only meet about 1/4th of your total caloric need for the day. So far so good. But have you seen 1 cup of quinoa? It isn’t much, and you’re not just going to eat plain quinoa. You’ll need something on it. If you have it for breakfast, you’re going to want to add some milk and honey. For dinner you might cook it up with some olive oil or tomato juice and veggies. The calories can quickly add up. There is some potential that quinoa could become a vehicle for a few extra calories, but overall I’m not convinced that quinoa is a fattening food.

Is quinoa fattening? I’m more inclined to argue just the opposite. Even the 35 gram or carbohydrates isn’t all that problematic. Your body needs some carbohydrates during the day, and the type of carbohydrates found in quinoa are the best kind. Quinoa’s starches make excellent fuel for your brain and muscles. On top of that, 1 cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of high quality protein and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Quinoa isn’t an empty source of fattening calories — it’s a highly nourishing food for restoring and energizing your body.  

If you’re really trying to lose excess fat, my only recommendation would be to eat quinoa for breakfast instead of for lunch or dinner. Eating quinoa in the morning will give your brain thinking fuel, boost your metabolism, and give you plenty of time to burn off those carbohydrates. For more information about quinoa, including how to cook it, read our more in-depth article on quinoa.

Sources: USDA Food Database
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Originally posted 2013-12-04 10:11:29.