Finding Calm in Magnesium

 

“It’s the most, wonderful time of the year!” Christmas songs will be ringing through my ears from now until New Years Day. They bring me a big, fat bowl of J-O-Y. Yet, I also lean on these tunes for emotional support and to help guide my mood. Type A during the holidays means creating dozens of DIY decorations, entertaining multiple times throughout the month, cooking exceptional meals, selecting the perfect presents and baking holiday treats for everyone I know. That’s quite the exhaustive list! So the songs tell me to be merry while I accomplish each item.

Merry for 30 days straight isn’t realistic. Relaxation must squeeze into the schedule if I want to make it through a sane person. Magnesium may be just the thing to help.

Epsom Salt
Magnesium Deficiency & Anxiety

Multiple studies have found a direct correlation between anxiety and magnesium deficiency. A higher dietary magnesium intake reduces stress levels and decreases chances of depression.  Over 6 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder, and those are just diagnosed cases. As magnesium decreases in the body, anxiety increases. In a Norway study of 5,700 adults, those with low magnesium were at higher risk of depressive disorders. We all know our society breeds stress with our go-go-go lifestyles. The American diet is also a cause for the increasing stress levels.

Today’s popular diet of calcium rich foods, high amounts of sugar and alcohol are working against us. We’re told to take extra doses of calcium but we need magnesium if we want to absorb it. Our bodies retain calcium better than magnesium so it’s important to regularly replenish those supplies. When we consume large amounts of sugar and alcohol, magnesium is needed to flush it through our systems and then the magnesium is excreted through the urine. Calcium is stored throughout, while magnesium is used to break down the cake and wine you had with dinner. It’s too focused on removing the toxins from your body and doesn’t have anything left to perform it’s other jobs.


This list from Body Ecology shows the roles magnesium play in your health.

►Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones
►Increases bioavailability of calcium
►Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
►Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
►Promotes restful sleep
►Helps prevent congestive heart failure
►Eases muscle cramps and spasms
►Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
►Decreases insulin resistance
►Can prevent artherosclerosis and stroke
►End cluster and migraine headaches
►Enhances circulation
►Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
►Treats asthma and emphysema
►Helps make proteins
►Encourages proper elimination
►Prevents osteoporosis


Where to find extra Magnesium

►Foods – Dark leafy greens, chard, spinach and seaweed contain high amounts.

►Epsom Salt Bath – Add 2 cups of epsom salts to your bath and soak for at least 12 minutes up to three times per week. This will also help relieve sore muscles.

Topical Magnesium Oil – Apply this before bed for a restful night’s sleep. Or you can make this nourishing Body Butter recipe from DigPrimal. 

►Magnesium supplements can be tricky for anyone with a compromised digestive system so I’m sticking with the real food and topical treatments for now.

I feel better when I put a stress relief system in place. My pre-holiday gift to myself is a stocked supply of epsom salts and magnesium oil. Goodbye anxiety.


Resources:

Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25373528

Magnesium deficiency and anxiety-depressive syndrome in elderly patients with chronic heart failure.,  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23289218

Nutrition status of primary care patients with depression and anxiety., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22551840

Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20929532

Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19085527

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms & Solutions: What You Need to Know About This Widespread but Woefully Underreported Health Issue, http://bodyecology.com/articles/magnesium_deficiency.php#.VH4k7GTF_xh

Magnesium, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium

Magnesium, NOT Calcium, Is The Key To Healthy Bones, http://thepaleomama.com/2014/02/magnesium-calcium-key-healthy-bones/

5 Reasons to Buy Organic & Local this Thanksgiving

Photo by Scott David Gordon - from jbgorganic.com
Photo by Scott David Gordon – from jbgorganic.com

I choose local, organically grown foods. Mostly because I’m a control freak. I like to know exactly how my food was raised. And I also want to know the foods I’m eating are nourishing me. Conventional produce and meats are not able to offer the same standards.

Before I get into the other reasons why I buy organic, I have to explain one misconception. Foods labeled organic are not the only organically produced foods. Many small farms practice sustainable farming but do not carry the USDA Organic seal. The Organic certification process is cost prohibitive and too time consuming for most farmers. It requires a daily record-keeping of all tasks, which is unmanageable when you have weeds to pull and crops to harvest.

The best way to learn how something is grown is by getting to know the farm, searching their website or asking the farmer directly at the market.

Better for our Health
When you eat organic, you are much more likely to consume a larger variety of plant species. The majority of conventionally grown food is locked into one variety of the plant. All across the globe, we’re eating the exact same broccoli, making a homogenous diet and assuming that everyone on earth needs the same foods for optimal health. We know this isn’t so. Every body is different and requires different nutrition. Small farmers typically grow varieties not commonly found in the grocery store so you’re getting a more varied nutritional profile when you consume them. Try replacing those canned green beans for heirloom ones this year in your green bean casserole.

No Pesky Pesticides
Pesticides. Just the word makes my skin crawl. The US still allows the use of these harmful chemicals that have been shown to disrupt brain development. According to Environmental Working Group, a single grape sample can contain up to 15 pesticides.

Organic produce is imperfect and it’s these imperfections that garner my attraction. The European Commission is out ahead of the US in fighting against the dangers of pesticides, banning several types and imposes tight restrictions on imported food.

Environmentally, pesticides are killing off honeybees and other beneficial insects. Organic growing practices contribute to a robust biodiversity. The variety of plants allows pollinators to thrive and keeps predators at bay, which in turn cuts down on the need for pesticides. Organic fields have been shown to have over 100 times more pollinators than conventional fields. This means more honeybees and more of my favorite sweetener.

Produced without GMOs
The first genetically engineered product was approved by the FDA in 1993 and now up 70% of processed foods contain GMO ingredients. And 95% of the animals raised in the US are fed GMO feed. This is new science and has not been properly tested for implications. We are all currently part of the experiment and may not know the side effects for decades.

It is important to point out that the original motivation behind GMOs was to create more nutrient dense foods. That is not the case today though. Corn and soy are the most abundant GMO products. These are largely used to make vegetable oils and preservatives placed in empty calorie foods, which are contributing to the obesity epidemic. Not the best use of technology if you ask me.

GMOs are also limiting the number of foods we eat and cutting those foods down to one variety.

The average person eats 15 different foods. Only 15. There are thousands and thousands available across the globe and the use of GMOs is limiting this availability. Rice alone has 40,000 varieties. With a GMO food model, a family in Ohio eats the exact same dinner as a family in India. Nutritionally, this isn’t healthy and culturally, it’s devastating. In order to live a healthy life, we should consume a wide variety of foods. And GMO foods are making this impossible.

Fewer Cases of Food poisoning
Up to 76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year according to the Centers for Disease Control caused by the unsafe production of conventional foods.

Salmonella, e-coli and fecal contamination are found in animal products coming from factory slaughterhouses across the country. The disease-infested growing conditions for most animals force farmers to use antibiotics to keep their animals healthy. These antibiotics are then passed on to us, leading to a growing concern of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The more antibiotics we consume through meat, the less able are bodies are to fighting off disease. Animals raised with organic practices live in sanitary environments, minimizing their exposure to harmful bacteria and need for antibiotics.

Most commercial turkey producers add antibiotics to the animal’s diets. So this year, buy your bird from a reliable source. Look for heritage, organic and sustainable in your local market.

Supports the local Economy
Invest in your local economy this Thanksgiving and keep your food local. Small farmers are changing the food system one growing season at a time, saying no to conventional production methods so families can have healthy, safe food.

Local food from small farmers is less likely to contain harmful pesticides and is produced with ethical standards. The farmers are often more transparent and willing to share their growing practices so you know exactly what you’re putting on the table. At farmer’s markets, the farmer is right there to ask questions and will even allow you to come tour the farm.

Where to Shop

►Local Grocery Store

►Farmer’s Market Guide – Local Harvest,  http://www.localharvest.org/

►Local Farms – Eatwild’s Directory of U.S., Canadian and International Farms & Ranches, http://eatwild.com/products/index.html

►Food Cooperative Food Co-op Directory, http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/coops

Resources:
Ten Reasons to Buy Organic, http://tennessee.sierraclub.org/pdfs/Why-go-organic.pdf

Ten Reasons Why Organic Food is Better, http://www.earthfuture.com/earth/Organic%20-%2010%20Reasons.pdf

Decreased functional diversity and biological pest control in conventional compared to organic crop fields, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21611171

Did Your Thanksgiving Turkey Take Any Antibiotics?, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/11/26/247377377/did-your-thanksgiving-turkey-take-any-antibiotics

Environmental Working Group, http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

GM crops currently on the Market in the United States, http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/GMonMarketUS.pdf

Eatwild’s Directory of U.S., Canadian and International Farms & Ranches, http://eatwild.com/products/index.html

Food Co-op Directory, http://www.cooperativegrocer.coop/coops

Fat: the Good, the Moderate, the Ugly

Friends often ask me, “what’s the most important thing to change about my diet?” I tell them to eat the right kinds of fat. This has been the biggest shift in my cooking. I’ve learned that fat is not the enemy. In fact, every cell in your body needs good fat to survive and thrive. So why then did I avoid it like the plague for years?

The health community touted the low-fat diet as the be-all, end-all for years and I absorbed every piece of nutrition advice from the media. I think the general consensus for women particularly is to limit fat until we cave and have to eat a whole pan of brownies (What? Don’t act like you’ve never done it.) Documentaries like Forks Over Knives fed my brain with faulty science too. The movie advocates that a low-fat, plant-based diet will combat illnesses. I took it to heart and plunged into this philosophy. Since I was vegan at the time, it wasn’t that difficult to alter my diet. I removed all cooking oils and cooked with water instead. What was the result? I was STARVING all the time! Then I finally did my own research and found that our bodies need fat to thrive.

The Fact: Fat does not make us fat.

I associated fat in food with fat on my body. This is a big fat fallacy. Fat has a long list of health benefits and we biologically cannot live without it.

►You need fat in order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K.
►Adding fat to each meal maximizes nutrient absorption.
►It also contains the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acid which are needed for brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting.
►Dietary fat maintains the structure and function of all cell membranes in your body.
►Fat boosts hormone production needed for healthy reproductive, stress and thyroid glands.
►It’s the most energy dense food source and sends satiation signals to the brain. Therefore we eat less when we consume fat with meals.
►Fat does not affect blood sugar levels and when consumed with carbohydrates, sugar is released much slower into the bloodstream.
►Your skin’s condition is affected by your fat intake. Fat keeps the skin soft and supple.

Now these facts comes with one BIG ole caveat.
Not all fats are the same or should be treated equally.


The Good
Saturated fat is good fat. The nutrition science world recently discovered that their decades of commitment to denouncing animal fat was all wrong. Numerous publications and even media outlets are debunking this school of thought. This year Nina Teicholz‘s published The Big Fat Surprise, where she reveals how the low-fat diet was a failed sixty year experiment on the entire population.

Eating saturated fat along with monosaturated and some polyunsaturated fats will support all the bodily functions I’ve outlined above. I mostly use coconut oil, clarified butter, tallow or bacon fat for cooking. Then I reserve olive oil for cold dishes since it is susceptible to rancidity if heated too high.

Good Fats:
Omega 3 Fats from Fish
Eggs
Coconut Oil/Milk/Meat
Animal fats – tallow, lard, pork fat (only from sustainably raised animals)
Fat that occurs naturally in meat and poultry
Butter (only from sustainably raised animals)
Olive oil
Palm oil
Olives
Avocado
Cheese and full fat Dairy products (only from sustainably raised animals)

And it’s important to add, that there is a naturally occurring trans fat called conjugated lanolin acid (CLA), which is created in the digestive tract of grazing animals. CLA is found in the fat and milk of these animals. It’s know to fight cancer and support metabolism.


The Moderate:
There is a moderate category to cover two bases: First, some oils should not be heated above moderate temperatures or they go rancid. Second, you body needs to maintain the right ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids to combat inflammation.

Vegetable oils and nut oils are fragile and highly susceptible to oxidation. They must be processed with care to prevent this from occurring. When they’re exposed to air or light they spoil quickly. This is why quality olive oil is sold in dark bottles and stored in a dark place. The producers know their product will spoil if exposed to the elements. Oxidation is the chemical reaction of oxygen contacting another element. Oxygen molecules actually begin burning the oil. By heating certain oils, your causing the oil to spoil. And when you consume spoiled oil, it develops inflammation in your body.

Maintaining the right ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 will greatly decrease the overall inflammation in your body. Consuming too much omega 6 correlates with an increase in inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Omega 6 competes with omega 3 and can beat out omega 3’s anti-inflammatory effects. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which are a result of an abundance of vegetable and seed oils from pre-packaged and fried foods.

All the foods listed below should be consumed moderately and balanced with omega-3 rich foods such as oily fish.

Moderate Fats:
Nuts
Seeds
Nut oils (Walnut oil, hazelnut oil, etc.)
Nut butters (Almond butter, Cashew butter, etc.)
Avocado oil


The Ugly
Human-made trans fats and some polyunsaturated fats are the ones to avoid. We all know human-made trans fat falls into the bad category. But why? They are made by forcing hydrogen into an oil’s structure using a chemical catalyst. The hydrogen increases the product’s shelf-life but also makes it unfit for human consumption.

I like how Dr. Eades explains it in The Protein Power LifePlan, “The fats you eat become a part of each and every cell membrane within your body…the trans ones interfere with the functioning of the cell membranes and organs and tissues those cells make-up.” That’s some serious damage being done. Soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil and margarine are among the ugliest of fats and are now tightly linked to the obesity epidemic as well as cancer, heart disease, inflammation and infertility. European countries and many cities across the US have either banned or put limitations on use of trans fats.

Polyunsaturated fats in the form of oil have an unstable chemical structure, making them prone to rancidity. They go through highly refined processing that exposes the oil to heat, light and air. All of this exposure spoils the oil. Then it’s bottled up and packaged for consumers and the oil is bad before it’s even stocked on your grocery store’s shelves. 

Ugly Fats:
Margarine and butter substitutes
Soybean oil
Corn oil
Canola Oil
Cotton seed oil
Vegetable Shortening (looking of you, Crisco)
Anything labeled Vegetable Oil


Justin Miller created this Healthy Fats Guide that’s super handy.

healthy fats guide by Justin Miller

I also love this guide from Diane Sanfilippo and have it posted in my kitchen as a reminder.

PracticalPaleo_GuidetoCookingFats

Resources:

The Food Fight of the Decade: Vegan vs Paleo, http://www.fourriversclinic.com/2013/02/the-food-fight-of-the-decade-vegan-vs-paleo/

Forks Over Knives: What to eat and foods to avoid, http://www.chewfo.com/diets/forks-over-knives-vegan-diet-what-to-eat-and-foods-to-avoid-food-list/

The Protein Power LifePlan by Dr. Michael R. Eades & Mary Dan Eades, http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/

Eat The Yolks by Liz Wolfe, http://eattheyolks.com/

Sexy By Nature by Stefani Ruper, http://paleoforwomen.com/sexy-by-nature/

The Definitive Guide to Oils, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/healthy-oils/#axzz3IDrmQ2bv

Guide to: Cooking Fats, http://www.balancedbites.com/PDFs/BOOK_EXTRAS/PracticalPaleo_GuidetoCookingFats.pdf

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Biochemistry: Perspectives from Human Nutrition, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25373090

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, http://www.thebigfatsurprise.com/

Healthy Fats Guide, http://www.limitless365.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/10/healthyfatsguide.pdf

Omega-6 fatty acids | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega6-fatty-acids#ixzz3InZDeIOq