Magnesium deficiency is common these days: telltale signs and solutions

Everybody knows that magnesium is an important mineral for the body, but do you know why your body needs magnesium and which food sources provide magnesium or which factors deplete your body’s stores of magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for your body: it is important to maintain healthy nerves and strong muscles. Also, your body uses it for many different metabolic processes, keeping the immune function and bones strong as well as maintaining heathy heart rhythms.

Possible symptoms, which may be telling you that you may be magnesium deficient:

Trouble sleeping may be a sign of magnesium deficiency.

Trouble sleeping may be a sign of magnesium deficiency.

  • General fatigue, exhaustion and weakness in the body
  • Lightheaded or feeling dizzy
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fuzzy memory, impaired cognitive activity and confusion
  • Heightened anxiety and stress
  • Trouble sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Body tremors
  • Frequent or severe muscle cramping
  • Other flags include: a deficiency of calcium, lyme disease, impaired heart health, type II diabetes, difficulty breathing & respiratory diseases and potassium deficiencies

How much do we need and where do we get it?

Dietary recommendations vary depending on age, gender and body weight, but generalized recommendation for adults are:

  • Women 310 mg per day minimum
  • Men 400 mg per day minimum

Which foods are excellent sources for magnesium?

Pumpkinseeds are an excellent food source for magnesium

Pumpkinseeds are an excellent food source for magnesium

  • Dark leafy greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, watercress, etc.) twice daily or better three times daily — approximately 2 cups total or more
  • One or several tablespoons of pumpkinseeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds daily or often
  • Whole grains, soaked and cooked at two meals per day — moderate amounts
  • Beans once or twice per day — moderate amounts
  • Nuts such as almonds, peanuts and cashews
  • Sea vegetables such as wakame/alaria, kombu/kelp, nori/laver, dulse and others
  • Fish

Foods and Factors that deplete our magnesium stores in the body:

Minimizing these factors will work in your body’s favor.

  • Foods that are grown in depleted soils (most commercial non-organic vegetables are lacking magnesium)
  • Anti-acids, cortisone, and many other pharmaceutical drugs including birth control pills
  • Coffee, alcohol, black teas, sodas, etc.
  • Sugar: for every molecule of sugar our body needs 54 molecules of magnesium to process it — and this is not only white sugar, but other strong sweeteners including honey, maple syrup, tropical fruits and white flour products
  • Stress is a huge factor in depleting magnesium
  • Excess estrogen in the body
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Oxalic acids found in spinach, beets/beet greens and swiss chard
  • Too much exercising can deplete magnesium via perspiration
  • Heavy metal toxicity

If you are experiencing any or several of the symptoms listed above on a regular basis, you may not be getting enough magnesium in your diet. Deficiency can result in more serious problems over time, so it is important to take corrective action especially via dietary adjustments.

In cases of severe deficiency a supplement may be taken until the condition improves. However supplements are best taken in intervals of several days per week with at least one or two day rest periods during each week, so that the body’s own ability to absorb magnesium from food sources does not atrophy.

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Switching on Genes for Health - Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit

Arugula Leafy Green Salad

Arugula Leafy Green Salad

Changing your diet and lifestyle choices will turn on health-promoting genes. 

Five things you do that switch on genes that cause disease or five things you can do to switch on health promoting genes:

We certainly receive our genes from our parents. However scientists are saying now that only 25% of our genes are dominant genes which cannot be altered. In contrast, many genes work like a committee: certain aspects of our lifestyle, environment and mind/emotional framework can turn certain genes on or off - creating disease or health.

  1. The average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar each year - in sweetened beverages, desserts and other sweetened foods. The more sugar consumed, the greater the risk for obesity, heart disease, and early memory loss.  
  2. Sitting several hours each day. The amount of time spent sitting is a risk factor for developing heart disease and many other circulatory system disorders.
  3. Going to bed too late - most rejuvenating sleep is one or two hours before midnight and and sleeping less than 5 hours a night can be detrimental. Less than 5 hours of sleep each night increases the level of stress hormones, which increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental health problems, and early memory loss.
  4. Smoking. Smoking increases inflammation, cancer of the respiratory system, risk of heart disease and early memory loss.
  5. Toxin exposure. Exposure to toxins including pesticides, heavy metals, and plastics increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mental health problems.

How to Turn On Health-Promoting Genes

Changing your diet and lifestyle choices will turn on health-promoting genes: 

Mixed Vegetables - preparing to roast in the oven.

Mixed Vegetables - preparing to roast in the oven.

  • Replace sugar and sweeteners with root and round vegetables. Many root and round vegetables when cooked become very sweet and can satisfy the need for sweets. Many studies clearly indicate that consuming more vegetables will lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health problems, etc.
  • Every hour, move your body: going for a short walk, doing 5 minutes of stretching or other exercises regularly will help to offset the damage that prolonged inactivity would promote.
  • Ensure having a good sleep at night. Go to sleep and wake up at a consistent time. Also, going for a walk outside during the day regularly will increase the body’s ability to make melatonin, the sleep hormone. Some stretching and breathing exercises before bed ensure better and more restful/rejuvenating sleep.
  • Reduce your exposure to toxins by choosing more natural products (foods/household cleaners/body lotions and other body care products).
  • Eat more vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables to help your body eliminate toxins more effectively. Use the Environmental Working Group consumer guides to prioritize which vegetables and fruits to purchase as organic produce and begin to grow your own if possible!

Miso Tahini Dressing - delicious

Miso Tahini Dressing

Miso Tahini Dressing

Miso Tahini Dressing:

Dressings make a meal memorable, delicious and nutritious. This easy to prepare dressing is great on raw salads, boiled salads, noodles and more. Tahini is a rich source of vitamin B1, iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The raw parsley, lemon juice and orange zest provide a good amount of vitamin C.

Serves 3 - 4 people

1/3 cup tahini

1/4 cup water or more to taste

1 tablespoon chickpea miso or to taste

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice or to taste

1 - 3 teaspoons grated onion

1 - 3 tablespoons finely minced parsley

Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld.

Enjoy!

 

St. Patrick's Day Green Split Pea Soup: Healthy, Delicious and Nutritious

St. Patrick's Day Green Split Pea Soup:

 

1 cup green split peas, soaked, discard soaking water

5 - 6 cups water

1 tablespoon dulse, or kombu or 1 bayleaf

½ cup burdock, diced (optional)

1 cup onions or leeks, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

½ cup celery diced

1 - 2 tablespoons sesame oil

sea salt to taste

several slices of whole wheat sourdough bread, cubed and pan fried in a little olive oil

scallion garnish

 

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the onions until glassy. Add the split peas, dulse, other vegetables and water. Cook until split peas and vegetables are soft.

Serve with scallion garnish and fried bread cubes.

 

Using the highest quality ingredients makes a huge difference in terms of the flavor and health benefits of the soup. 

When you select split peas: look for smaller varieties with a bright green color (as opposed to pale or gray green). The bright green color indicates freshness of the split peas - they cook faster and taste more delicious. Pale green or gray green varieties are often rancid. 

Taste your raw vegetables - especially the carrots and celery: do they taste delicious or bitter or bland? Choose delicious tasting vegetables for best outcome and more nutrients.

The quality of oil and salt is also extremely important: if the oil tastes rancid, the soup will taste rancid (as well as creating free radicals in the body). Please store oils for long term use in the refrigerator. 

Good quality sea salt will taste mildly salty if placed on the tip of the tongue, inferior quality sea salt will have an almost stinging or biting effect on the tip of the tongue.

Enjoy!

Pesticides, monoculture, health and the human mind...

Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and disinfectants have become commonplace practice in the last century and only now are being recognized for their greater negative impact on humans and our environment.

Pesticides, etc. are a broad class of substances used to reduce or eliminate certain plants, molds and insects that may damage crops and thus impinge on profit margin for farmers and corporations.

The residues of these substances are found everywhere: traces of ‘Round up’ are found in your organic arugula salad and most organic and certainly most (if not all) non-organic foods. Many (70 or more) widely used pesticides are classified as probable or possible carcinogens.

The residue of chemicals from pesticides, etc. drastically diminishes a healthy intestinal flora and thus weakens our immune system, as a healthy intestinal flora is the first instance of our immune function. In other words it can open the door for many other disease to arise when our immune function is weakened.[1]

Many pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, etc. are designed to shut down the mitochondria (the energy producing factory within the cell) of the plants and insects, which in succession induces cell death.[2]

Unfortunately, this mechanism works the same way in humans: we ingest small amounts of pesticides in our food and our mitochondria will be attacked in the same way as the plants and insects. We are generally larger in size than the plants or insects, thus the pesticides do not impact us as imminently, however there is an accumulative effect.

Pesticides are known to contribute to the rise of certain cancers, especially non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma and soft tissue sarcoma (and others). They are also known for their contributing effects on depression, hormonal imbalances and other mental/emotional disorders.

In a downstream effect we also impair the natural balance of our environment, even to the point where we possibly risk our food supply: bees are our #1 pollinators and certain pesticides have a harmful effect on bees, especially their larvae.

When you grow your own food — and I encourage everyone to do so -, I would suggest avoiding pesticides or if necessary looking for natural alternatives to eliminate pests using natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon and essential oils for example. Also lawn care is best to be natural –‘Round up’ residue otherwise will trickle into our ground water and ultimately end up in our drinking water supplies.

The quality of the soil in the garden/yard also makes a difference: better and healthier soil equals stronger and healthier plants with less damage arising from insects and other pests and weeds. Keeping a few weeds in the garden and yard, actually strengthens the plants — monoculture makes plants more vulnerable to be invaded by insects/bacteria, etc.

Monoculture in the farming sector is unfortunately also a reflection of the monoculture of the modern mind: the starkness, lackluster and boredom of the mind that is largely preoccupied with making a living (or escapism). We are being fed a (tem)plate of constant fear: fear of the ‘pests’ — which plays out in our lives as fear of not having enough resources (like money, food, shelter, healthcare, love, education, etc.).

The root of this fear is not feeling good enough about oneself — a belief in being sinister at the core of the being. The outside world seemingly always reinforces this false belief. The truth is, however, that our inherent goodness and value cannot gain footing in our reflection of our outside world as long as we are stuck in a fear-loop that solely allows us to see threats reflected everywhere we turn.

Ultimately the mind becomes dull from overextended indulgence in this kind of monoculture (land)scape. How about exploring new ways of doing, being and thinking? Even if just for a moment: leaving the fear behind, allowing space for some weeds to grow and insects to fly, knowing that they are in fact necessary for the health of the overall crop that is meant to be harvested.

Going back to the practical end once again: if you can buy local, organic food, it is a good practice to do so and encourage your regular farmer neighbors to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, etc. — conversations and requests create a change in behavior.

If you do not have access to organic produce/foods, soaking and/or properly washing foods can somewhat reduce exposure to these toxins.

In my opinion, in order to end the desert of the mind of our world society: healthy, organic, natural and wholesome food should be a right to every person, not a commodity. Inspiration begins where fear ends.

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As long as basic food is sold and distributed as a commodity, profit margin practices and exploitation practices will be the norm. These practices destroy our living environment, our health and our mental/emotional capacity to become the genial inventors, think tanks and brotherhood of humanity we can potentially become. Let us create greater change one individual at a time to enjoy each other and our planet for as long as possible.

[1] Samsel, A., and Seneff, S. 2013. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Page 1443. Entropy, 15, 1416–1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416

[2] Kim, Y.H.; Hong, J.R.; Gil, H.W.; Song, H.Y.; Hong, S.Y. 2013. Mixtures of glyphosate and surfactant TN20 accelerate cell death via mitochondrial damage-induced apoptosis and necrosis. Toxicol. In Vitro, 27, 191–197.

Red Blood Cells

Did you know?

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Red blood cells literally shoot around the body, taking less than 60 seconds to complete a full circuit. This means that each of our red blood cells makes 86400 trips around our body every day, delivering oxygen and keeping the body energized. Each cell lives for approximately 40 days, before being replaced by a new one. Which means to improve the quality and strength of your red blood cells it takes 40 days of continuous effort either thru food or lifestyle changes:

Some strengthening foods for the red blood cells are azuki beans, red radishes, nori sea vegetable, leafy green vegetables such as kale, collards, mustard greens and many more.

Physical activity, such as going for 30 - 40 minute walk daily will also tremendously benefit the circulatory system, and the red blood cells in particular!

Food to minimize: excess sugar, sweets of any kind, alcohol, strong spices, sodas, high caffeinated drinks, excess dairy and animal food.

More vegetables, please!

More vegetables, please!

I vote for more vegetables, please! They may not be the lead character of the play, but without excellent supporting roles even the best play can be a flop.

Why more vegetables? Our diets are so full of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but where is the stuff (the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) that makes the carbs, fats and proteins burn cleanly in the body? In vegetables! Many times when traveling or short on time we turn to restaurants to provide us with nourishment. It is clear that the trend has veered away from fast food restaurants –because even the fast food restaurants are changing to include healthier options. A regular iceberg lettuce salad may not be enough to make balance with a heavy, fried animal food dish or the white flour and sugar dessert many of us are consuming daily. Having a featured vegetable dish on the menu regularly may be the deciding factor of bringing people into the restaurant these days — especially women.

OK, yes, I most often find tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, eggplant and salads on restaurant menus.

However, the nightshade vegetables — especially the homogenized hothouse varieties — the tomato or French Fry (but also peppers and eggplants) are making our blood in the body very acidic, so they are not real champions in detoxification and cleaning the body.

Consuming the nightshade family vegetables is rarely a memorable event, but traditional and indigenous foods will leave an imprint in consciousness: quite literally, because many of them will improve blood quality and thus improve brain function. How about a locally grown cauliflower, or the locally grown homey carrot — which in my opinion is way underrated — mostly because the profit margin on carrots is very low and thus influential companies are not interested in spending the money on paying for research of the benefits. However, both the root and the greens of the carrot are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which our bodies need. And carrots can be prepared in most delicious ways.

Including locally grown traditional vegetables can also be a great way to emphasize the local character of a region and what better way than experiencing a region’s distinct character via ingesting it? For example, here in the North East we have a lot of burdock growing. Burdock has a long list of benefits for the body, such as blood purifying, slowing the absorption of sugars into the blood stream, it’s diuretic qualities, it has anti cancer properties, it reduces inflammation, strengthens the nervous system and more. It’s distinct earthy flavor is also somewhat a reflection of people’s characters here in the North — a bit wild, earthy and independent.

When I give cooking classes, I include a lot of vegetable dishes into the menus. And the response is overwhelmingly positive and clients leave the table feeling good. And feeling good makes customers return.

Speaking to local growers and asking them what traditional vegetables they are growing is often quite an eye opening experience because of the variety of vegetables they are growing. If the budget of the restaurant kitchen allows, featuring a different vegetable every week or at least every season would be wonderful. Including more variety of colors is not only attractive but also indicating more nutrient richness in the food. Pointing out specific benefits of the featured vegetable dish to gently educate the customers, may even entice the person on the fence to try something new! And why not think of pairing wine or beverage with specific vegetable dishes?

So, I encourage every one: more vegetable side dishes, please!

Traditional Hummus

2 cups cooked chickpeas (approximately 1 can organic chickpeas)
3 tablespoons plain or roasted tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 - 3 tablespoons finely grated raw onion
2 - 4 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 - 2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (or to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1 - 2 teaspoons umeboshi paste (or to taste)
1/4 - 1/3 cup water (fresh water or water from cooking the chickpeas)
for garnish: minced parsley and a dash of paprika (optional)

Blend all ingredients, except garnish, in a blender (or grind slowly in a mortar with a pestle - creates excellent taste and retains many more nutrients) until smooth.
Serve as is or as a dip for raw or blanched vegetables (like carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) or with your favorite bread or wrap.

Hummus is an excellent food:
Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, provides you with protein, healthy carbs, lots of fiber, b-vitamins and minerals (like calcium). Like other members of the legume family, they routinely top lists of the world's healthiest foods.
Garlic, onions, tahini, olive oil, lemons, parsley, scallions are some of the best known and most studied ingredients. They are part of the Mediterranean diet. These zesty ingredients give hummus its great flavor. Enjoy!