What soil erosion, probiotics, and sauerkraut have to do with your health:

Topsoil supplies are being depleted at an alarming rate. Industrial agricultural practices like mechanized plowing, mono-crop planting, and enormous farms deplete the top soil and leave remaining deposits vulnerable to erosion by wind and water. The majority of land used for agriculture today doesn’t actual contain a healthy amount of top soil. Soil is living – it contains organic matter, bacteria, and other living organisms. The bacteria in soil suppress harmful funguses, affix nitrogen to the soil, and break down organic matter into useful material. By contrast, most food today is grown in dead dirt. Dirt requires fertilizers and pesticides to make it fruitful. Yet, while all this may sound interesting or even alarming, you might be wondering what it has to do with human health.

Actually, the state of soil has a lot to do with health; In fact, the very future of food depends on healthy soil. More immediately, however, topsoil also impacts another area of health: your intestines. Every gram of healthy soil is filled with millions of bacteria. In a previous time, people used to grow or harvest their food from healthy soil, lightly wash it, and eat it along with a mouthful of healthy bacteria. As a result of soil erosion, it turns out we are consuming a lot fewer healthy bacteria than we used to. There are over twenty varieties of bacterial strands that serve various functions in the digestive system. Intestinal bacteria help prevent infections, bolster the immune system, prevent disease, promote healthy digestion, and can help preserve critical nutrients. Much of these benefits are lost, however, if the digestive system isn’t regularly replenished with healthy bacteria, a task that is becoming increasingly difficult in our modern, sterilized age.

There are a number of food sources, however, from which healthy bacteria can be obtained. Yogurt is a well known source of the probiotic (bacteria) acidophilus (learn how to make your own yogurt by clicking here). Ingestion of acidophilus supports the immune system, prevents infections, and aids the digestion of vitamins K and B, as well as calcium. Sauerkraut is a lesser known source of probiotics but contains a plentiful amount of bacteria known as Lactobacilli Plantarum.  Sauerkaut’s probiotics help the body fight irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and colitis. Kefir is another excellent probiotic source, as it contains a variety of bacterial strains not found in yogurt. Outside of fermented food sources, the best way to replenish your digestive system’s flora is by taking a probiotic supplement. Affordable supplements are available that provide upwards of ten different bacterial strands in convenient pill form. For more information on probiotics visit: http://probiotics.org

The human dependence on microorganisms for optimum health speaks to the complexity and amazing symbiosis of God’s creation. The degradation of top soil and the resulting effect on human health is another example of how human efforts fail to procure a better life on earth. God created everything to work together in the best possible way – human pride and self-reliance only result in destruction of the good things God provided to keep us healthy and happy.

Originally posted 2011-07-31 10:29:00.

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.

Gelatin as a Digestive Aid

Gelatin is a Traditional Food and Medicine

It may come as a surprise, but gelatin (made popular by the Jell-O brand) is one of oldest medicines and foods known to man. As a medicine, ancient healers and less modern doctors often recommended that their patients supplement with gelatin in order to help with digestion problems, including ulcers, stomach acid imbalance, and indigestion. As a food, gelatin is a natural ingredient in the most primitive and universal meal: soup (or stew).  

Gelatin is a Natural Food, Also Known as Collagen

The word “gelatin” comes from the gel-like consistency this protein-complex forms when it cools. Nearly everyone has seen the amazing property of gelatin to gel in dishes like the iconic Jell-O salad. You might not have realized it, but the same gelatin activity seen in gelatin molds is also responsible for the gel-like consistency that forms when soups, stews, or gravy’s cool down a bit. Gelatin is also one of the ingredients that helps thicken these popular comfort foods.

While it might seem a little strange, gelatin is simply a mixture of different proteins that are hydrophilic. In other words, gelatin attracts water to itself and holds it in a protein structure. The protein structure is actually the same stuff that much of the human body is made out of, collagen. Collagen contains 19 out of 20 amino acids and is especially high in alanine, arginine, glutamic acid, hydroxyproline, proline, and especially glycine.   

Gelatin was traditionally extracted from animals during the process of making broth or stocks for soup. All chefs know (along with traditional peoples) that a good stock is the foundation for delicious soups and sauces. The creation of broth developed out of long-held values and the necessity of using every part of the animals being eaten. In this effort, bones, skin, and cartilage were boiled to extract all the nutrients and flavors they contained, and this is still how a good broth is made. Unfortunately, making broth can be a time consuming and messy process, requiring hours of simmering, so few people in modern society (apart from gourmet chefs) spend the time extracting all those health promoting nutrients. Sadly, our modern eating and cooking habits are causing us to miss out on the wonderful benefits gelatin can offer for our digestion.

How Gelatin Helps with Digestion Problems 

Gelatin helps promote digestion in two ways: by stimulating stomach acid production and by moving stomach acid away from the stomach walls towards the food being digested. Contrary to popular belief, digestion problems are often connected to too little stomach acid production, not too much. In fact, ulcers aren’t caused by stomach acid; it’s just that acid causes pain in those areas because the proper stomach protection is lacking. Gelatin increases stomach acid production thanks to its high glycine content, and thus promotes better digestion (less gas and bloating). The amino acid glycine is particularly good at stimulating the release of stomach acid.

In addition to containing high amounts of glycine, gelatin is also a hydrophilic colloid.  As mentioned earlier, gelatin loves water and absorbs it like sponge. Thankfully, gelatin also absorbs stomach acid. The awesome thing about gelatin compared to stomach acid neutralizers like calcium carbonate is that it doesn’t neutralize the body’s ability to digest food. Instead, because it’s hydrophilic, gelatin sucks stomach acid towards the food that’s being digested, while simultaneously moving the acid away from the walls of the stomach where it can cause irritation in an unhealthy stomach.  

The Take Away: Traditional methods of cooking that emphasize whole foods and slow cooking methods tend to provide more of the nutrients the body needs for health. Today most of us are missing out on the benefits provided by a real, homemade stock made from the whole carcass of an animal. Our family is trying to get back to traditional cooking methods as often as possible. You too might want to experiment with making your own stock using a whole chicken or the marrow bones from a cow (which can be obtained from your local butcher). A more convenient (though less flavorful and nutritious method) way to obtain gelatin is through simple supplementation. Try adding pure gelatin powder to your simple soup or stew recipes. If you have digestion problems you can even take gelatin with a small glass of water during a meal, or try adding it to smoothies.

Recommended Product: Great Lakes Gelatin

Recommended Reading: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

References: Wald, A and Adibi, SA, “Stimulation of gastric acid secretion by glycine and related oligopeptides in humans,” American Journal of Physiology, 1982, 5, 242, G86-G88; Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Pg. 61; Hydrophilic Colloid Diet, by Dr. F.M. Pottenger Jr.

[ts_fab authorid=]

Originally posted 2013-10-02 16:09:33.