What Are Ancient Grains?

We read cereal boxes, snack labels, and hear about these “Ancient Grains” all over the place these days. But, what exactly are they? And, are they as good for us as these sources are claiming?

Ancient Grain Overview

There is a collection of unrefined whole grains that fit into this “ancient” category. Basically, these are grains whose roots trace back to before we kept track of time. Ancient grains have not been mutated, bred, refined, and have been left greatly unchanged over the centuries.

Many ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Egyptians, and the Aztecs used (and worshipped) these grains. The Incas considered quinoa sacred and actually named it “the mother of all grains.” Some say faro was mentioned in the Old Testament.

Not all ancient grains are gluten-free, but fortunately, most are.

Gluten-free grains include amaranth, buckwheat, chia seeds, freekeh, millet, and teff. (Oats, spelt, einkorn, faro, and Khorasan wheat “Kamut” contain gluten.)

Are Ancients Better?

It depends on how one defines better. If we’re discussing the environment, then the answer is yes, ancient grains are better. Many of them thrive with less fertilizer and irrigation, as well as lower levels of pesticides in comparison to the modern, hybrid, selectively-bred grains, like wheat.

Various health experts will debate whether ancient grains compose a healthier diet than other whole grains. Many nutritionists, however, assert that ancients provide more vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

The Grains, Legumes, and Nutrition Council, leading experts in this aspect of health, explains that all the whole grains are similar. However, some ancient grains are considered pseudo-cereal grains because they’re actually derived from plant seeds, and not prepared or use like “true” grains.

Are they healthier? At the very least, the benefits range from superior levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a high omega-3 content. They are also an excellent form of complex carbohydrates. For the benefits and list of complex carbs click here.

Quick Guide To Ancient Grains

1) Teff. GF (Gluten-free). It’s so tiny, it can’t be processed, which is great. One cup packs in over 100mg of calcium. It’s starch resistant, high in fiber, and can help if you’re trying to shed pounds.

2) Quinoa. GF. Can be prepared in a rice-cooker. Comes in red, black, or white, and can be eaten cold like a traditional pasta salad, or warm with veggies and a lean protein. Extremely nutritious.

3) Millet. GF. It’s rich in magnesium and used in many “bread” products. It also hydrates the colon. Comes in red, white, gray, and yellow whole. Can be used whole or crushed into flour.

4) Amaranth. GF. It’s high in protein and can be used in desserts like cookies and cakes.

5) Sorghum. GF. It grows and thrives without much water. It can be utilized from a flour or syrup base, and can be used to make bread, desserts, and even beer.

6) Freekeh. GF. It’s harvested young so it tends to provide high amounts of nutrients. It’s also low in sugar carbs.

Other ancient grains include spelt, faro (also called emmer), Khorasan (also known as Kamut), and Einkorn. Sometimes these too are considered ancient grains: black barley, buckwheat, blue corn, black rice, and wild rice. (Remember, these are not all gluten-free!)

Hope this brief article on ancient grains helped answer some of your questions about this mysterious-and-healthy, old-yet-trendy food. Check back with Get Thrive soon for some delicious recipes using ancient grains, along with other healthy food tips.

 

 

Has Our Diet Gotten Healthier? Yes and… No

A new study on the diet of Americans reveals they have gotten slightly healthier, but in other ways they’ve gotten worse.

Unhealthy Diet Going Down

The results of the food-intake study were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Over a 13-year period, thousands of people across the country were asked about what they had eaten in the last day. National surveys were studied and the findings were not that uplifting, unfortunately. As it turns out, 46% of Americans still eat an unhealthy diet. The good news is the figure used to be 56%. So that’s one positive aspect.

Another slightly inspiring finding is that Americans are drinking less soda and eating fewer refined grains and white potatoes. There was also a small rise in the amount of yogurt, nuts, and seeds the participants consumed. That’s another glimpse of movement in a positive direction.

Progress Lacking

Frighteningly, overall, Americans showed no decline in consuming meat (processed or fresh) or sodium. Eating red meat and an overabundance of salt is linked to heart disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed did not rise at all. (Two essential food groups for optimum health!) How can we begin to lower chronic disease in this country when eating habits continue to remain so unhealthy?

Class, Ethnicity, and Social Disparity

The study’s results also presented a different, yet equally significant problem. White Americans positively altered their diets more than any other group. Minority and lower socio-economic groups improved their habits only at a miniscule level. And worse, Mexican-Americans actually increased their consumption of refined grains, and black Americans ate more white potatoes. A person’s level of education and income played a part in the way he/she improved (or did not improve) his/her diet.

What’s the Fix?

We all know diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are rampant and killing way too many Americans. We can improve our health by “fixing” our diet. But how come not enough people are doing it?

Many doctors, health advocates, and even public policy makers believe government needs to step in more. The argument is that we have safety guidelines for cars, toys, and workplaces, but the ones for food are weak. The food industry basically polices itself and there’s a call for stronger government policy in this area.

Dr. Kelly Brownell, a leading advocate for good nutrition, has written papers and lobbied for stronger federal policy. The sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax has shown to be slightly effective in decreasing consumption of soda and sugary drinks. The problem is that the tax is not enough to make the drink economically restrictive. And if it is for some people, they just go to a nearby county where there is no SSB tax. Although this may be one small effort, it’s not strong or pervasive enough to affect great change.

Hopefully, you are on a path of nutritional improvement. Your health matters. For more info on food and good health check out www.GetThrive.com

 

Nutrition Quiz: Are You Really Eating Healthy?

How much do you really know about healthy eating? We believe certain foods are good (or bad) for us, but then, sometimes, we find out otherwise. Advertising and/or outdated studies can often misguide us in our quest to eat nutritiously. Take the quick Healthy-Eating Quiz and see how well you’re doing!

 

  1. Which are “good fats”?
  2. Saturated fats
  3. Trans fats
  4. Monounsaturated fats
  5. Polyunsaturated fats

 

  1. Which are whole grains?
  2. Oatmeal
  3. White rice
  4. Barley
  5. Quinoa

 

  1. What nutrients do eggs contain?
  2. Protein
  3. Vitamin B12
  4. Vitamin D
  5. Lutein

 

  1. Which are great sources of fiber?
  2. Artichokes
  3. Chia seeds
  4. Pancakes
  5. Black beans

 

  1. Which are low in sugar content?
  2. Tonic water
  3. Vanilla yogurt
  4. Bananas
  5. Almond butter

 

Now check and compare your answers with ours.

 

Answers:

1.) c and d. The worst are trans fats, for example, hydrogenated oils. Saturated fats aren’t horrible when eaten in slim moderation. These include: cheese, whole milk, and red meat. Your good fats will be monounsaturated (i.e. olive oil, avocados, sunflower oil) and polyunsaturated fats, which are essential fats (omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, seeds, nuts, etc.)

2.) a and c. Whole grains contain bran, germ, and endosperm—the entire grain kernel. That is precisely what oatmeal and barley are. White rice is processed and not a whole grain; however, brown and wild rice are considered whole grains. Quinoa, although quite nutritionally potent, is really a seed (though some still categorize it as a grain).

3.) a, b, c, and d. Two medium eggs offer about 14 grams of protein. Over 50% of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin B12 is included as well. Eggs are a great source of vitamin D for bone health and lutein for eye health.

4.) a, b, and d. Pancakes, especially those prepared with white, refined flour have virtually no fiber benefit. (If they were made with a whole grain, like Buckwheat, now we’re talkin’.) One medium artichoke has about 10 grams of fiber—and brother broccoli is not far behind. Chia seeds, as well as flax and other seeds, can have up to 6 grams of fiber in one tablespoon. Black beans (and lima and lentils) are fiber royalty with up to 15 grams per cup, cooked.

5.) d. Almond butter made solely from nuts (with no sugar added), may have as few as 2 grams of sugar per serving. (Other nut butters without additives are also low in sugar. Generic tonic water and flavored yogurts can have up to 40 grams of sugar per serving. Yikes! Bananas are one of the most calorie-dense fruits. Of course because the sugar is from a natural source, it is better for your health any day over eating a processed food with added sugar.

Keep seeking out and following your path to healthy eating. You will feel rewarded in body, mind, and spirit!

 

Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/grain-month-calendar/quinoa-%E2%80%93-march-grain-month

https://www.nutritionfoundation.org.nz/nutrition-facts/nutrition-a-z/Eggs/What-do-eggs-contain-

https://greatist.com/health/surprising-high-fiber-foods

 

 

 

 

Grocery List Essentials for Your Plant-Based Diet

It’s really exciting to make a conscious choice to eat more plant-based foods. It can also be daunting if you’re not sure what to fill your pantry with in order to prepare or cook yummy new dishes.

Additionally, you can find yourself spending a bit more in your budget to catch up on the basics, like nuts, seeds, and herbs. Plant-based chef Miranda Hammer (who also happens to be a registered dietician) has some great ideas for stocking up, especially if this is a new venture for you at home.

The idea is to flavor-up what could be bland. Using fresh produce is the start. Dress it up with dried, nonperishable, nutritious items. Your goal is to keep all your foods whole and unprocessed.

Hammer suggests shopping in the bulk bins at your local health food store or market. Since they need to turnover the products in a timely fashion, if they’re not all sold, they will often offer a decent discount.

Texture, Fiber, and Good Fats

Nuts and seeds are amazing sources of protein, fiber, and other healthy supplements. They are both terrific snacks alone, but the chef recommends using them as toppers on salads, oatmeal, ice cream, or cooked veggie dishes.

Get them raw and unsalted. Some preferred nuts are: walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, and, of course, the go-to nut—peanuts. Tasty seeds include: chia, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, and flax.

Herbivore Alert

Dried herbs and spices are must-haves if you want exotic tastes. As we are hearing more often, many spices and herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties, which adds further benefit to their use.

You can also avoid using too much salt by incorporating another interesting spice instead. Hammer suggests investing in: cumin, oregano, turmeric, ginger, coriander, and thyme.

Beans, Grains, Oils, and Stand-bys

Another staple for plant-based pantries are beans and legumes. Some of these include: lentils, black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, and split peas. Of course any grains you buy should be “whole”—like in cereal, quinoa, brown rice, spelt, and bulgur.

Coconut, extra-virgin olive, avocado, and sesame are Hammer’s favorites. And delicious for dressings, sauces, or to dip in, balsamic vinegar, tamari, raw apple cider, and Dijon mustard are the recommendations.

Stock up on these items little-by-little. They should last in your pantry for a short while (some longer than others.) Buy your produce fresh and organic. With the combination of these items, you can make yourself some fabulous, healthy meals right in your own home.

More Danger Linked to Eating Red Meat

Although there have already been plenty of reports encouraging the avoidance or decrease of red meat consumption, there’s one more to add to the list.  Men, in particular, who eat a considerable amount of red meat are at higher risk of developing a painful, chronic colon condition.

What We Already Know

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a variety of foods, mostly plant-based. Ideally, one’s plate would be half vegetables and fruits, a quarter whole grains and legumes, and a quarter protein. Unfortunately, many Americans are still plating up unprocessed red meats (burgers and steaks) as their protein of choice.

Choosing lean meats (poultry), fish, and beans as a protein is better overall for heart and colon health. One theory for the disturbance that red meat causes in the body is that it interferes with the gut microbiome. This negatively affects proper digestion. Other evidence points to consumption of red meat fueling low-level inflammation. Chronic inflammation, at any level, is dangerous and has been known to increase risk of cancer.

So, Now What Are They Saying?

A new study out of Boston found that men who ate over 10 servings of red meat per week were over 50% more likely to develop diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a pouch in the lining of the colon that becomes inflamed of infected. Food and bacteria get trapped in the pocket(s), which creates the perilous condition.

This inflammatory disease of the colon causes extreme pain, constipation, and nausea. Diverticulitis can result in dangerous complications such as blockages and/or tears in the colon wall. If the increase of heart disease or cancer didn’t scare you, perhaps the results of this study may.

Senior researcher Dr. Andrew Chan noted that in this study, there was no link between poultry or fish and the risk of diverticulitis. What this means is that trading out a piece of grilled chicken for a hamburger can greatly decrease a man’s risk of developing diverticulitis. The study was conducted over a 26-year period and included over 46,000 male participants.

How to Proceed

If you love a good steak or burger, you don’t need to remove it completely from your diet (unless your health practitioner has made that recommendation.) Aim to keep your servings to three or less per week. There are many delicious and nutrient-rich replacements for high protein dishes besides red meat.

A plant-based diet will keep you heart-healthiest, but chicken, turkey, and fish are completely acceptable sources of main protein on your breakfast, lunch, or dinner plate. Whichever you choose, remember to combine double its portion with vegetables and fruit. For more articles on healthy eating, check out www.GetThrive.com

Sources:

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/01/10/Red-meat-consumption-may-be-linked-to-gut-disorder-in-men/1341484071725/

Weight-Loss Tips Not For Dummies

If you’re serious about losing weight, you’ll want to be smart about your plan. If your goal is weight-loss and keeping it off, then you need to be smart. Read on then, for proven, “Not for Dummies”, expert tips to help you attain your goal.

It’s Your Loss

So often we see in the media, people touting their magnificent new figure, sans 40-100 or more pounds than they were previously. But before long, oops! The weight-loss turns back to weight gain. Why?

A true “good” diet is a habitual regimen of healthful, mindful eating.

The main reason why people’s weight fluctuate so greatly is because they go on a diet. “Going on a diet” connotes temporary, extreme changes in eating habits. If you go, you eventually come back—like “going on a vacation.” You’re enthusiastic to go, but the return trip turns out to be a downer.

Forget the Quick Weight-Loss Fix

Once you “go off the diet,” you generally gain back the weight.

The only way to lose pounds and keep them off is by adopting a particular lifestyle. That lifestyle includes a balanced, nutritional, whole-foods based, forever-diet—along with regular exercise, and proper rest.  Period.

The Only Worthy Tips are the Smart Ones

There’s so much information to filter through and digest; it’s surprising we even have any motivation after we’re done researching diets. The reality and scientific truth is that no gimmick or “trending” diet will give you desired results if your goal is to keep the weight off.

Healthy weight reduction and maintenance is possible with a commitment to a smart plan.

Smarty-Pants Tips

Weight loss is not about merely cutting calories. It’s about providing your body with nutrients and reducing inflammation in your body.

Focusing on those two factors will naturally shed pounds with ease.

How do you provide nutrients? The only way is through ingesting non-processed, whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins will provide you with vitamins and minerals.

The way your body absorbs nutrients is to combine them with fat-soluble foods. This means you need to eat “good fats.” Here are some yummy examples:

  • blueberries with walnuts
  • carrots with hummus (garbanzo beans, good)
  • sweet-potato chips with guacamole (avocado being the good fat)
  • almond butter on a brown rice cake
  • a teaspoon of flaxseed oil in your berry smoothie
  • avocado oil in the pan with your scrambled eggs
  • asparagus with your salmon (omega-3 fatty acid rich)

I bet you’re getting the picture!

Tipping the Inflammation Scale

If your body is experiencing inflammation externally, you know it. You can see redness or swelling. Internally, you really don’t know if you’re inflamed until you feel lousy or experience pain, or you get diagnosed with a disease.

Inflammation, clearly, is not a good thing. In order to decrease it and help you on your weight-loss plan, there are certain foods you might consider removing from your diet. Inflammatory foods include:

  • wheat, gluten, and casein
  • dairy
  • processed and cured meats
  • soy
  • processed grains
  • sugar
  • sugar
  • sugar

Awww, Sugar Sugar

Yep, sugar mentioned more than once was not a typo. Sugar in the form of granulated or powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and fructose is unacceptable in more than minuscule amounts if you want to lose weight, keep it off, and have a healthy body.

And, forget the artificial sweeteners. They are equally or almost worst. Read why here.

Here’s the Skinny on Weight-Loss

Regardless of the propaganda circulating by the sugar, wheat, and corn industries, “no dummies” do not fall into that trap. The truth is that those ingredients cause inflammation. If you want to lose weight, you need to say bye-bye to them for a while, if not, your lifetime.

It may sound grim, but the reality is that’s it’s a challenge and can be fun.

Don’t starve yourself by any means.

Start out your day with a nutritious breakfast. A smoothie that includes berries, protein (like a nut butter), fresh spinach or kale, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a bit of almond or coconut milk will fill you up and get your digestive system and brain into forward gear.

You can snack on any of the foods mentioned above. Your lunch and dinner should consist of at least half a plate of veggies and the rest with lean protein and good grains and fats. Make herbs and spices your best cooking friends too—they will add flavor and also help reduce inflammation.

Drink tons of water throughout the day and try to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Toss in a bit of daily exercise, and you will start losing weight before you know it. Maintain a healthy diet, and you’ll keep those pounds off, and you will feel better than you ever have!

Ask a friend to join you on your positive eating challenge. If you need more support, there are terrific programs already set up to get you started. Restart TM offers groups with trained coaches to help with mindful eating. Arbonne offers a 30-day healthy living package with nutritional supplements and professional support. You can always check out other weight-loss and positive health-affective diets on www.GetThrive.com