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.

 

 

Not sleeping? Feel tired when you wake up? Know The Powerful Effects of Magnesium

Did you know that our bodies have an internal master clock? It runs on a 24-hour cycle and it’s called our circadian clock, which is the timekeeper for our circadian rhythms. Our rhythms are the up-and-down flow of our hormones depending on whether its day or night. These hormones guide us to have energy during the day and relax us to sleep at night. If our circadian rhythms are out-of-whack, our sleep-wake cycles are disrupted, which puts our health at risk.

Sounds like you may lack Magnesium.

THE STUDY

A recent study out of the University of Edinburgh published in the journal Nature, shows that magnesium levels in humans’ (and other organisms’) cells rise and fall with a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. The amount of magnesium in the cells directly related to how closely a person followed their sleep cycle and how and when they burned energy. This is a fascinating discovery for those of us interested in metabolism and a more effective conversion process from turning food onto fuel—and also for those of us who need a good night’s sleep!

Magnesium levels affected the circadian clock in positive ways. For one, cells were able to process energy with increased efficiency. And alternately, cells abided by a natural sleep cycle. Both day and night, cellular function of sleep-wake cycles improved from higher magnesium levels. This doesn’t mean everyone ingesting more magnesium will awake at 6am daily and fall asleep at 10pm. It does, however, imply that whenever you wake up, you’ll feel energetic, and by the time your day is done, you will feel comfortably tired. Each person has his/her own internal circadian clock, which is what differentiates those identified as early birds, or conversely, night owls.

GO TO SLEEP

The National Sleep Foundation reported that about 15% of American adults say they always have trouble sleeping and that up to 40% claim they have occasional insomnia. Melatonin is a commonly used natural supplement to aid in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Some studies, however, cite that melatonin causes drowsiness and prepares the body for sleep mode, but it doesn’t necessarily induce a full night’s sleep.

It appears magnesium may soon be recommended as our natural go-to mineral for metabolic and/or sleep irregularities. Currently, the Natural Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 320 mg of magnesium daily for women over 30. Over-the-counter supplements are available, but the most beneficial form of magnesium comes from fresh foods. Some of these include: almonds, cashews, legumes, broccoli, kale, spinach, black beans, soybeans, whole-wheat cereals, and fish.

CHECK FIRST

Before pumping up on the magnesium, check with your doctor. Certain medications can create an adverse physical reaction when combined with magnesium supplements. The findings of this new study remind us that we require good sleep for optimum health. Nighttime hormones generate healing in our body, just as daytime ones give us the energy to be productive. Eating well can help us count more years to our lives instead of counting more sheep.

Make sure to check out GetThrive.com for more information about your health and wellness.

Why Magnesium Is Essential

A whopping 80% of Americans are believed to be magnesium deficient but what is it, and why magnesium is essential?  Calcium was considered to be the most important element in our bodies, second to air (oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen).  Only in recent years, the medical industry is understanding how important the element magnesium is, labeled ‘macro mineral’, which the body requires in order to function to its maximum capabilities.  Magnesium helps turn the food into energy, keeping muscles, heart and nervous system all in check, while also maintaining bone strength and improving the immune system.

 

Benefits Of Magnesium

Today’s society is experiencing a decline of magnesium in the body due to present lifestyle influences like diet, environment, and certain medicines.  Many don’t recognize they are deficient blaming the symptoms on stress, fatigue or anxiety.  The assistance of magnesium in the body is essential for the following reasons:

  • Regulates insulin levels and the response of sugar in the body
  • Magnesium paired with zinc, copper and vitamin D all help strengthen bone density, assisting keeping osteoporosis at bay.
  • Helps keep the heart rhythm regular and guards the heart from muscle stress caused by sickness, constipation or indigestion.
  • Reduces lactic acid which causes pain after exercising.
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Assists with energy

 

Are You Lacking?

There are a number of symptoms that may suggest a lack of magnesium including:

  • sleep problems
  • Migraines
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Skin problems
  • Constipation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Food cravings

There are several indicators, and in these cases, visiting a doctor is advised.  They include, extreme thirst and hunger, frequent urination, dry skin, blurry vision and tingling in hands and feet as well as muscle spasms.

 

Magnesium In Food

If the symptoms are not severe, promoting magnesium naturally, by consuming certain foods, will help with the milder symptoms.

Some of these foods include:

  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach or Kale
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Dairy foods
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain bread
  • Brown rice
  • Avocado
  • Beans
  • Dark chocolate

Taking an oral magnesium supplement may also help a magnesium deficiency, but it can have side effects on the stomach and may not be recommended for someone with a digestive issue like IBS or acid reflux.  There is an alternative that comes in a cream form (magnesium chloride cream), and this bypasses the digestive tract and enters the blood stream more directly.  In a recent study scientists have suggested that people with higher than average blood pressure may be magnesium deficient and will benefit from this cream.

 

Blood Tests

Making sure enough magnesium is present is imperative, but if any symptoms suggest a deficiency, then enhance the leafy greens and visit a doctor for further advice.  A doctor can give a blood test to see if a lack of magnesium is obvious.  It is important to remember that unless a severe deficiency exists, a serum blood test may not recognize the shortage of magnesium.  A RBC test is thought to be more precise, checking magnesium levels in your red blood cells.  The third test is an ionized test which uses a machine that isolates the magnesium ions.  This is the most accurate test, allowing doctors to get a truthful reading of magnesium levels.  The last test is a EXA test, which is basically a cheek swab using tissue gathered from the mouth.

So whether leg cramps, migraines, cravings, insomnia or heart irregularity, take magnesium seriously as there is one thing for certain, it’s a critical macro mineral we can’t live without.

 

RESOURCES

Dr. Mark Sircus.  Why 80% of us Are Deficient in Magnesium

Magnesium Deficiency in Multiple Sclerosis

Magnesium rich food

5 Reasons Why Not Getting Enough Sleep is Fattening

Overeating is the number one suspected cause of weight gain. What most people don’t realize is that lack of sleep can keep you from losing pounds—and can actually add them! If you’re trying to find ways to lose belly fat, it’s time to consider sleep as a catalyst.

Read on if you’re feeling frustrated that you’re not losing weight even though you feel like you’re doing all the right things. Not getting enough sleep can be linked to your growing waistline. Check out five of the main reasons why not getting enough sleep may be affecting the numbers on your scale.

Also, let’s see how we can remedy this challenge and turn it around, once and for all. There are several ways to lose belly fat, but getting a good night’s sleep may just be the answer!

#1  Lack of Sleep Slows Your Metabolism

Do you feel like you’re too busy to sleep? Is there always so much going on that getting a good night’s sleep winds up on the bottom of your list? Truthfully, it’s probably time that you place restful sleep as a priority.

Besides affecting your mood, your brain, and the way you look, lack of sleep slows down your metabolism. A slow metabolism can result in weight gain. If you’re wanting ways to lose belly fat, eat nutritiously and moderately, exercise—and get enough sleep. Most experts will concur that for adults, 7 – 8 hours per night is healthy.

you’ll need to monitor your stress levels

Testosterone production decreases from an increase in cortisol output. Testosterone builds muscle; when your muscle-mass depletes, your metabolism slows down.

#2 Lack of Sleep Increases Your Appetite

Do you experience stress? Does it affect your sleep? If so, your cortisol levels may be high.

Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone that gets produced from stress. Your brain may read the surge of hormones as your body using energy. So then, it will encourage you to replace those calories by eating.

The problem is that you really haven’t burned any calories. In fact, when we’re stressed the body tends to hold onto fat. It thinks it’s in survival mode. If you want to reduce stress and lose weight, make sure you’re getting proper rest each night.

#3 Sleep Loss Changes Gut Microbiota

Scientists at Uppsala University believed that sleep deprivation affects the gut. So, they conducted a study and discovered that lack of sleep actually changes the levels of gut microbiota. Frighteningly, they observed that the change looked a lot like the microbiota in those with Type-2 diabetes.

If there’s an imbalance in the amount and diversity of gut microbiota, there’s cause for health problems. One of those is how our gut informs our brain. This too, affects metabolism. Once again, we’re confronted with a body that burns calories very slowly. Getting sleep is one of the simplest ways to lose belly fat and positively impact your metabolism.

#4 Loss of Sleep Affects Digestion

Is your sleep disturbed often? If so, your ability to digest food properly may become impaired. Noteworthy, almost 40 percent of adults claim to have occasional sleeping problems.

Believe it or not, insomnia can affect your ability to process foods adequately. Unfortunately, this can result in poor nutrition, vitamin deficiency, and weight gain. Work on maintaining healthy sleep patterns, and you may find it easier to lose those unwanted extra pounds.

If you aim to go to bed at the same time each night, that will help your body’s internal clock. Also, try to wake at the same time every morning. It will make a big difference if you’re consistent with the amount of sleep you get each evening.

#5 How You Eat Affects Your Sleep, Which Then Affects Your Waistline

 Sleeping well, as mentioned, can be one of the ways to lose belly fat and keep off the extra pounds. Here are some food tips to help you get a better night’s rest:

  • Avoid alcohol before bed
  • Reduce sugar intake throughout the day
  • Eat foods that regulate melatonin (fish, eggs) or take a supplement
  • Add tryptophan to your diet (turkey, cheese, grass-fed beef)
  • Eat foods high in magnesium (leafy greens, yogurt, avocados)

 

Exercise is also another way to reduce stress and help you sleep well. Finding the proper balance between food, exercise, and rest can be the key to maintaining or losing weight. For a great selection of articles to keep you healthy, check out Get Thrive! and feel free to sign up for our Newsletter.

Sources:

https://getthrive.com/losing-sleep-may-pack-pounds/

https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/how-to-prevent-weight-gain-due-to-stress-and-anxiety

https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/10/25/Sleep-loss-may-be-linked-to-changes-in-gut-bacteria-levels/6621477409022/?spt=mps&or=13&sn=hn

 

 

Magnesium for Sleep May Finally Get You the Rest You Need

Forty percent of Americans claim they suffer from insomnia. Within that number, there is a large percentage of people who regularly have trouble sleeping. Alas, a natural supplement may just be the ticket you need to slumber throughout the night. As a result, magnesium for sleep may help your body and mind get the rest it needs.

Tic, Tock, Tic, Tock…Why Can’t I sleep?

There are many reasons why someone may experience insomnia. Some of the most prevalent are:

  • Anxiety from day-to-day concerns
  • Chronic stress from emotional trauma
  • Clinical depression
  • Physical Pain
  • Too much caffeine
  • Alcohol use
  • Medications
  • Eating too late or too much

In addition, another significant factor is an imbalance. The imbalance lies in our internal clock. You may need more magnesium. Seems like a magnesium deficiency can be the cause for this imbalance.

 

How Does Magnesium Fit in?

Our internal clock manages our sleep-wake cycles. This timekeeper is also called the circadian clock. Each person has his/her own internal rhythm. Hence, this is the reason why some people are early birds. And, others are night owls, for example.

The University of Edinburgh published the results of a study. The focus was on magnesium levels in human cells. It was discovered that the level in cells went up and down over a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Also, it appeared that higher levels of magnesium improved cellular function. The circadian clock became more balanced.

With lower levels of magnesium, cells are unable to process energy with optimum efficiency. The amount of the element found in our cells is linked to how and when we burn energy. Most notably, it directly relates to our sleep-wake cycles. Then, it follows that it would be beneficial to have a plentiful amount of magnesium for sleep.

 

What’s the Best Way to Get Magnesium?

The best way to get any vitamin, nutrient, mineral, or element into your body is through a natural food source. Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Spinach and other leafy greens can contain almost 40% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for magnesium

 

 

  • Black beans contain 20% of the RDI

 

  • Almonds, cashews, and brazil nuts contain 15% of the RDI

 

  • Bananas, fatty fish, and some whole grains contain approximately 10% of the RDI for magnesium

 

Now to Get to Sleep…

Another common way to get the magnesium your body needs is through supplementation. The National Institutes of Health currently recommends approximately 320 mg a day for women over the age of 30. However, dosage can vary.

Always check with your health care provider before taking supplements. If you’re on any type of medications, certain vitamins and minerals can interfere with absorption or create side effects.

When choosing supplements (and food), try to shop organic. The quality will make a difference. As for magnesium for sleep, there are also teas available to help soothe and assist with a restful night.

In conclusion, our cells require magnesium. We especially need it to balance our sleep-wake cycles. Getting the amount you need from food, pill or liquid supplements, or even tea will help get your internal clock back into tip-top shape. Sweet dreams!

Check out Get Thrive! for more articles on sleep, supplements, and best health practices.

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Sources:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/regulating-circadian-rhythm/

http://www.medicaldaily.com/digestive-health-magnesium-levels-circadian-rhythm-increase-metabolism-sleep-381973

https://getthrive.com/the-powerful-effects-of-magnesium-for-sleep-problems/

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/rm-quiz-insomnia

http://isha.sadhguru.org/us-en/insomnia/?gclid=CjwKCAiA47DTBRAUEiwA4luU2Wlo65WBWABQSMa_E53ORbNYRmALLJCByVxjSOahapoKpuq-c0W16hoCCIgQAvD_BwE

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium#section7

Can Soy Protect Against Cancer?

For a while there were concerns about soy being linked as a cause of breast cancer. Those rumors have been put to rest and found to be invalid. Now, however, research is showing that soy is not only safe, but it may help protect against particular types of cancer.

The Soy Debates

One of the great things about soy is that it’s one of the very few plant-based foods that provides protein. It also contains a wealth of amino acids that contribute to supporting a body’s vital functions. The confusion with soy’s safety emerged because it is also found to contain phytoestrogens.

Isoflavones (a group of phytoestrogens) are similar to estrogen—but not the same. Breast cancer has been linked to high estrogen levels. The significant truth is that plant-based estrogen is not the same as human. Soy isn’t a hormonal food.

Estrogens, the types that encourage cell growth, are only found in animals.

New Research on Protection

In the March 2017 edition of the journal Cancer, the results of a 10-year study on soy and breast cancer survivors were reported. The study involved over 6,200 participants. The women who ate the most soy products over the course of the research had a 21% lower risk of death—from all causes.

Other current, relevant studies have also shown that soy is safe for breast cancer survivors. It’s also been revealed that soy can actually protect breast health and heart health in females who ate it during puberty. That very same phytoestrogen ingredient actually blocks the negative action of animal or human estrogen.

In some Asian countries, low rates of breast and prostate cancer may be due to a diet that welcomes phytoestrogens and soy.

What Soy Can Positively Do

As mentioned, this plant-based food provides protein, amino acids, and a wealth of other nutrients. Some are: potassium, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin K. Most importantly, it is full of fiber. This is extremely important for healthy and proper digestion.

Nutritionists recommend moderate amounts, which would be approximately three servings daily. This may include a bowl of miso soup, some edamame, and a glass of soy milk. Tofu is also a common soy-based food.

Soy also contains:

  • Saponins, which are compounds that may lower cholesterol and protect against cancer
  • Phytic acid, which acts as an antioxidant
  • Sphingolipids, which help regulate cell growth and deter abnormal cells from replicating

Overall Healthy Diet

One the largest problems in the U.S. is the amount of processed and genetically modified foods (GMOs) we consume. A diet that includes these types of foods is not a real healthy one. Whole foods and organic are recommended for clean eating. This pertains to soy as well.

In this country, 92% of the soybeans grown here are genetically modified. That’s a staggering figure. So, again, try and check out whole and organic sources. Additionally, beware of the ingredient “isolated soy protein”, which basically means only the protein is extracted from the food and all the other nutrients are tossed aside. Isolated soy protein is listed on many snack, workout, or energy bars and shakes.

For more current health and wellness news, check out GetThrive!

Sources:

https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/september-2014/soy-cancer.html

http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/soy.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://www.fredhutch.org/en/treatment/survivorship/survival-strategies/soy-safe-for-cancer-survivors.html

https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/22342/cancer-information/cancer-risk-and-prevention/healthy-weight-diet-and-exercise/soy-foods/#y0KI0czhGGVze0rs.99