Category Archives: weight loss

Superfood: QUINOA

The superfood quinoa(KEEN-wah) has recently become popular in healthy restaurants and homes. Since quinoa is a vegetable seed and not a grain, it is low in carbohydrates, low in sodium, high in protein, high in antioxidants and gluten free. Lets take a look at why this seed is considered a superfood.

Here is a summary of a study(1) that has outlined 10 benefits of quinoa:  Quinoa is incredibly nutritious because of its protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium.  It contains the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol which are anti inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer. Its very high in fiber helping reduce blood sugar and lower cholesterol which helps with weight loss. It is gluten free. The protein contains all the essential amino acids. It’s also high in minerals where most of us fall short. It should improve your metabolic health by reducing blood sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels. It has one of the highest antioxidants levels on the planet.

In a life extension study(2), “Scientists continue to find evidence that this versatile grain substitute may inhibit inflammation, reduce cholesterol, quench free radicals, improve glucose levels, promote cellular energy production, support weight loss, act as a prebiotic and potentially help prevent cancer and heart disease(p97).” Quinoa contributes to your health and longevity on different levels.

There is not one food that can provide all of the essential nutrients, of course, but quinoa comes close with all of its high quality proteins. Grains often provide only partial proteins and are higher in carbs. Even the fiber in quinoa is higher compared to whole wheat or brown rice. The life extension study cites other studies which conclude that quinoa can reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides resulting in a reduction in cardiovascular disease.

You can find quinoa in most grocery stores near the rice section. Just rinse it off and cook it just like rice on the stovetop. It can be used as a side dish, but I’ve been mixing it into salads and veggie dishes. Many people use it as a breakfast cereal by adding fruit. If you haven’t tasted it yet, its a very mild flavor similar to brown rice. If you are looking for a more complex flavor, I’ve tried a mix of bulgur(durum wheat) and quinoa that works well.

The most common way I use quinoa is to mix it into my salads because it is so light and versatile. I also mix quinoa with sautéed or steamed veggies, add a little soy sauce, shrimp or chicken optional, and you have a high protein Asian entree. You can stuff avocados or bell peppers with a quinoa salad mix. You can easily replace all your rice dishes with it.  There are many recipes for quinoa on the internet and if you have a favorite, please let me know.   L. Johnson of www.creativeretiremetforwomen.com

 1. Gunnars, K (no date) “11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa” Retrieved on 7-9-2015 from: http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-benefits-of-quinoa/                                                                    2. Downey, M. (July 2015) “Superfood Quinoa A Complete, Gluten-Free Protein” Retrieved on 7-9-2015 from: http://www.lifeextension.com//Magazine/2015/7/Quinoa-A-Complete-Gluten-Free-Protein/Page-01

Superfood: SPIRULINA

Maybe you haven’t heard about the superfood spirulina yet, but its multiple health benefits might surprise you. Spirulina(Artgrisoura platensis)is an algae that grows in spirals of a green-blue color with a mild taste. Its history goes back to Aztecs who harvested it in Mexico. It is about 70% plant based protein. Since it doesn’t have hard cell walls, the protein is quickly and easily absorbed. It provides all eight essential amino acids making it easy to digest. It also provides 10 non-essential amino acids, eight minerals, and 10 vitamins. It is considered one of the best antioxidants on the planet.

Antioxidants are so important because they repair DNA cellular damage that leads to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and slow recovery from exercise. Performance athletes are well aware of this. Spirulina significantly increases exercise performance and fat oxidation(1). This study put runners on treadmills for two hours. They gave them 6 grams of spirulina a day. Blood samples were used for measurement and showed that fatigue was significantly improved and more fat was burned which continued after exercise.  This allows athletes to feel less fatigued while exercising and recover faster.

An interesting study in India focused on pan tobacco chewers(2). These people commonly have leukoplakia, a form of oral cancer. The study provided only one gram(a quarter of a teaspoon) of spirulina per day for 12 months. During this time, the lesions(an area of abnormal tissue) that were present in the subjects regressed or went away. “Complete regression of lesions was observed in 20 of 44(45%).” There was no toxicity from this use and within only one year of stopping the spirulina, 45% had recurrent lesions. So, the continual use of spirulina kept the cancer at bay.

Another study in Greece gave subjects only 1 gram a day for just 12 weeks. Through blood testing, they found reduced triglycerides, reduced high and low lipoproteins, and lower total cholesterol, all at significant levels(3). The authors described this effect as “powerful.”

If you have PKU talk with your physician regarding that amino acid. If you take anti-coagulation drugs, are pregnant, or have autoimmune disease, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor for that as well.

In terms of its form, Supirulina comes in powder, pills and tablets. In general, a powder usually has better absorption into the body. Pills and tablets often contain fillers that bind the powder together. A powder also allows you to mix it into may different drinks or meals.

I’ve personally been using organic spirulina powder for over two years and I like to mix a tablespoon into my orange juice with broccoli powder every morning. The powder is easy to find on amazon and I notice that I have more energy and am less hungry during the day. If you’re dieting, a smoker, enjoy exercise or just want more antioxidants for health reasons, this superfood is for you.      L. Johnson  www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jan;42(1):142-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ac7a45.                     (2) Mathew, B et al. “Evaluttion of chemoprevention of oral cancer with Spirulina fusiformis” Nutr Cancer. 1995;24(2):197-202. Retrieved on 6-29-15 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8584455                                                                      (3)Mazokopakis, E. E., Starakis, I. K., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Mavroeidi, N. G. and Ganotakis, E. S. (2014), The hypolipidaemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population: a prospective study. J. Sci. Food Agric., 94: 432–437. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6261               PHOTO:  http://yurielkaim.com/7913/6-surprising-facts-spirulina-doctor-doesnt-know/

HOW TO EAT LESS

HOW TO EAT LESS

How to eat less is easier than you may think. When I taught a class in the psychology of eating for the weight reduction program, we made a few easy adjustments that actually worked to change habits. Changing habits can occur when new behaviors are practiced and supported. Here are a few of the important principles to follow:

1. STRESS MANAGEMENT: We all need a stress reduction list of replacement behaviors to follow. Rather than eat when stressed, we will: 1. Take a walk; 2. Call a friend; 3. Meditate; 4. Go dancing or whatever you put on your list. What has worked best is to practice your replacement behavior as soon as you get home from work every day. You reduce your stress before it builds while creating a healthy habit.

2. CONTROL YOUR TRIGGERS: When we see or smell food, it causes or triggers a biochemical change in our brain of increased gherkin, a hormone that causes hunger. Stores place impulse items near the check out area counting on this effect. Start out making a list of the things that trigger hunger in you. The common ones are TV and magazine food ads, shopping when hungry, eating out, and talking about food. I like to mute and look away from TV ads, eat before I shop, eat out less, and avoid concession stands.

3. SOCIAL SUPPORT: The more people you involve in you diet plan, the more likely it is to work. In the diet clinic, we would always pair people so they could exercise, dine, and socialize together. When one didn’t feel like taking a walk, their partner would call with encouragement. Husbands sometime feel threatened when their wife loses weight and looks better. So, they need to be a support too.

4. SLOW DOWN: I guess we are all in a rush because Americans eat very fast. The food goes down so fast, it doesn’t register with your brain. So, we keep eating until we are stuffed. One preventative technique we use is to count your chews and take smaller bites. If that’s too boring, just put your fork down between bites.

5. NO TELEVISION: TV distracts us from paying attention to our intake. The main behavior that’s correlated with being obese is TV watching while snacking. I wish I could find the source. It’s easy to just dine at the table especially if others are eating. I’m single, but I still eat at the table with a book or relaxing music. It’s an enjoyable period of calmness in a hectic day.

There are more principles, but these should be enough to get you started that fall under the category of easy to do. Once you get used to these replacement behaviors, you do them without thinking. So, go ahead and make your list, get people involved, and have fun with your new lifestyle.    More at: www.creativeretirementforwomen.com