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Miracle Foods – Fact of Fiction?

 ”Now I’ve got the #1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat”. This was an actual quote from one of day-time television’s most trusted doctors.

The obesity epidemic is in the spotlight of politics, prime-time television, news and even the latest NYC legislation. Complete Nutrition and Wellness is here to give you the facts behind the most talked about “miracle” fat-burners and super foods.

Kombucha

What is it: B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds. It is essentially a natural probiotic.

Health Claims: Better energy, improved digestion and immune system and liver detoxification.

The glucaric acid component of kombucha is responsible for excreting liver “sludge” and using the GI tract to properly kill specific bacteria. The improved energy claim is likely due to supplying vitamin B6 and creating a healthier GI tract. Most find that the increased energy is not an immediate effect. The natural probiotics are great for your immune system. If you have digestive issues, probiotics are also very helpful there and it is likely that an improved digestive capacity will also improve your ability to fight off all types of infections even if they are unrelated to digestion.

Further investigation needed: For those who experience negative side effects when first drinking kombucha, those are likely attributed to candida die-off in the GI tract. If you experience this, you should investigate the possibility that you have an overgrowth of candida and consider a more rigorous candida cleanse.

Our opinion: Kombucha will benefit those with inconsistent bowel patterns, bloating after meals and people with history of lots of anti-biotic use. (Yes, even if it was as a child)

Please note: If you want to brew your own, do not use ceramic pots. Brewing in ceramic may cause lead poisoning- the acids in the tea may leach lead from the ceramic glaze. Glass is always best.

Bee Pollen

What is it: Bee pollen is a nutritious substance that contains more than a dozen vitamins, 28 minerals, 11 enzymes and co-enzymes, and 14 beneficial fatty acids.

Health claims: Improved immune system and better energy have been reported. Bee Pollen supplementation research has a large focus on those with immune deficient health. For example, using bee pollen in conjunction with radiation therapy has claimed to have increased a patient’s energy in comparison with those who did not supplement with bee pollen.

Cancer treatment assistance:  Exposure to radiation and/or chemical pollutants adversely decreases antibodies and other white blood cells (your immune response), red blood cells and nutrients such as protein and vitamins C and E.  Symptomatic improvements in health give rise to the claim that bee pollen’s effect directly addresses antibody count, histamine activity and immune system strengths as a whole.

Our opinion: We recommend bee pollen for those with a WBC (white blood cell) count below 5.0 on their recent blood work. We commonly find this in people with EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus), HSV1, various autoimmune disease, cancer and chronic candida overgrowth. Bee pollen is a gentle way to increase WBC count and therefore, create a stronger defense system, thus decreasing the likelihood of symptomatic illness such as the common cold. Suggested amount is two 450-580mg capsules three to four times per day.

Kale

What is it: Cruciferous vegetable gaining popularity in healthy eaters everywhere for its wealth of vitamins, antioxidants and a tasty flavor. It contains 20% of the recommended daily intake allowance (RDA) of fiber, 10% RDA Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant capacity comparable to garlic (ORAC=1700) and vitamins A and C. Cooking kale will enhance vitamin A absorption while raw kale will provide more vitamin C but a lesser amount of usable vitamin A/antioxidants.  

Health claims: Improved cholesterol – A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (take your fish oils) will improve cholesterol levels and decrease inflammatory signals in the body. So although kale will contribute to omega-3 intake, it alone will not prevent a heart attack.

Weight loss – Very low in calories and high in fiber, kale may assists in weight loss goals, however what you do the rest of the day is also important and kale alone will not make you shed pounds.

Liver detoxification – Kale contains isothiocyanates (ITC), which assist in both phases of liver detoxification pathways thus this is an excellent vegetable to include in your diet while doing a cleanse.

Cancer prevention – Antioxidants fight free radicals and inflammation, both of which are the root of disease and cancer as a whole. Kale provides the body with antioxidants but it is not as high as blueberries or other “super-berries” you may have heard similar claims about.

Our Opinion: We love kale. It is no miracle cure for disease, but it can help you reach your daily vitamin goals. 

Get the kids to eat healthier with home-made kale chips.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper

Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner

With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces

Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt which is about 10 to 15 minutes.

You can also try to add kale to your smoothie – Yes your fruit smoothie! If you don’t add too much, you will not even taste it, though it will turn the drink green.

Here is an easy recipe

1 cup of fruit of your choice (we love strawberries and watermelon, it’s very refreshing)

1 scoop of a high quality protein powder such as Dream or Paleo Meal

1 tsp of Paleo Fiber

1 TBSP of Flax or Chia seeds

1-3 leaves of kale

Blend with water, unsweetened almond milk or coconut water and enjoy the green delicious goodness!

CLA

What is it: CLA is an Omega 6 fatty acid, naturally found in various foods. Omega 6 is a PUFA (poly-unsaturated fatty acid) and has various health benefits.

Health claims: Lessens muscle breakdown and increases fat burning for energy.

Research studies showing these results were based on a mice study supplementing massive amounts (more than humans could easily consume) thus making the results’ applicability questionable.

Our opinion: Have you heard the term “You need fat to burn fat”? The body senses if calories drop too low or its source of quality fat, say for hormone production, drops too low. The body will take measures to slow down metabolism and therefore you may see a negative effect on your waistline. It is likely that successful fat loss while using CLA is linked to temporarily increasing the fat(grams) contributing to overall calories in those that were not consuming enough calories. Furthermore, while Omega 6′s do have health benefits, they need to be in balance with Omega 3′s for an anti-inflammatory effect. Consuming too much CLA may deplete Omega 3′s and contribute to inflammation which is not something that you want. In a nutshell, no miracles here, sorry!

Chia Seed

What is it: Similar to healthy fat and fiber sources like flax seed and psyllium, Chia seeds(dried) are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Here are a few of the facts:

Complete protein (Rare for most non-animal source proteins)

Ideal anti-inflammatory fatty acid ratio. <3.5:1> ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 making up its fat content

9g fiber/oz (insoluble and soluble)

Rich in antioxidants

Filled with minerals such as potassium, phosphorous, zinc and calcium

Macro content of 4p/11c/9f (per ounce) for you protein/carb/fat counters

Health claims: Helps you stay on your diet as it keeps you full (high fat, high fiber, high nutrient density). High fiber also helps prevent diverticulitis and keeps you regular too.

Our opinion: Chia seeds are a great addition to your daily menu as long as you account for the nutritional content. Just because something is high quality, doesn’t mean you should have it in large quantities. We recommend keeping this to a 1 oz serving size 1-3 times per day. Chia seeds can be used in place of:

Tbsp of nut butter

Tbsp of flax seed

Tbsp of olive oil

2oz of salmon

Try this: Chia seeds swell in water and increase their volume ten-fold, while essentially containing the same amount of calories. This water-chia mixture turns into a gel. Substitute chia gel for butter in baking recipes. (1Tbsp butter= ½ Tbsp chia-gel)

Green Tea

What is it: A combination of a compound called EGCG and caffeine.

Health Claims: EGCG (Epigallocatechinn-3-gallate) is an important extract in green tea that increases catecholamines, thereby increasing heart-rate and thermogenesis. In plain terms, this means it increases a fat burning hormone called HSL. Like a domino effect though, every action in the body will affect many more reactions downstream through various enzymes. Enzymes are like traffic lights set up throughout various pathways that help speed things up, or slow them down. While HSL is the fat burning hormone, remember that the body always has checks and balances, so when HSL increases too much, the body tries to slow things down for balance by producing a hormone called PDE which works in the opposite fashion from HSL. This is seen as the “red light” in the pathway. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something out there to decrease PDE, and keep the light green for longer? Well, there is and that is caffeine. So by drinking green tea, you extend the amount of time HSL (fat-burning hormone) is available to send its messages.

Our opinion: If fat loss is your goal, green tea can help, but unfortunately it alone will not get you there. We suggest you implement green tea or a green tea extract containing an adequate amount of EGCG in combination with a healthy food and exercise plan. It’s a great substitute for your morning coffee routine and an easy way to skip that daily serving of dairy (in your coffee).

Precaution: Those who are sensitive to caffeine should not make exceptions for the benefits of green tea as the benefits may not outweigh the risks in this case. In some cases, sensitivities to caffeine can be due to a sluggish liver because of toxin overload. If this is the case, a comprehensive cleanse may help the sensitivity and subsequent fat burning as a strong, clean and healthy liver is one of the keys to successful fat loss.

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