Whole Grains

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When talking about nutritious diets, you always hear “eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.” Whole grains, those magic words just say: “healthy and good for you.” You see labels on breads, crackers, even cereal saying: made with whole grains, more whole grains, whole grains guaranteed! Just what are whole grains???

The month of September is considered “whole grain month,” so as the month closes out, lets learn what whole grains are and why they are considered such an important staple in our diet

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A whole grain:

First off, what is a grain? A grain is wheat, rice, oat, corn, barley, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, and rye. All of these grains start off as whole grains, also called a kernel. It’s made up of:

  • The bran

o   Outer skin layer (edible)- full of antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.

  • The germ

o   The embryo that has the potential to grow into a new plant. It’s full of B vitamins also along with protein, minerals, and some healthy fats.

  • The endosperm

o   The food supply that provides energy to the plant! It’s the largest part of the kernel. It is made up of carbohydrates, proteins, along with a small amount of vitamins and minerals.

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When we talk about ‘whole grains’ we literally mean the whole thing, the bran, germ, and endosperm. All of these combined delivers a protein, fiber packed power food. Refined foods are created when the bran and germ are removed, only the endosperm. This gives them a longer shelf life yes, but not the health benefits the whole grain once had. Through processing, vitamins and minerals can be added back in to have some good nutrients, but not as good in comparison to the whole grain itself!

 Why are whole grains such a big deal?

As we just learned, whole grains are a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins (B&E). Whole grains also contain magnesium and iron! So, what do these whole grains do for your health?


Time to grocery shop! What to look for?

Important words to look for on packages:

The following have all parts of the grain!

  •        Whole grain

  •        Whole wheat

  •        Stoneground whole grain

  •        Brown rice

  •        Oats, oatmeal

  •        Wheatberries

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Words to watch for- these words never describe whole grain!

  •        Enriched flour

  •        Wheat flour

  •        Degerminated

  •        Bran

  •        Wheat germ


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Strange Symptoms… What Could It Be?

Numb burning sensation in your hands and feet, restless, irritable, GI upset, all due to low energy production within your cells. Sounds awful right? Well those are the textbook symptoms of pantothenic acid deficiency… pantoth..what? A fancy name for a B vitamin (B5 specifically). The vitamin that plays an important role in the chemical cycle to produce energy in your cells.

Pause, before you start to panic, it’s EXTREMELY rare to be deficient in this.

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Loss of bladder control, intestinal bleeding, seizures? Those are some scary symptoms! In an extreme case of vitamin B12 deficiency those symptoms along with depression, memory loss, changes in mood, and difficulty walking may be noticed. However, this is only in a very extreme case. Since B12 is found in a lot of animal products, vegans especially and vegetarians could potentially have a mild case of a B12 deficiency, but nothing extreme!

Thiamine- sounds like a fancy word, must be important right? Yup! But really, it’s just another name for vitamin B1. It is important though! Without it you could develop a disease called beriberi. One form of the disease can affect the cardiovascular system and the other affects the nervous system. From shortness of breath to leg swelling and mental changes, trouble moving your legs, and numb extremities all in between. The good news is, since we have a lot of fortified foods such as fortified rice with thiamine, we don’t have to worry about developing something so crazy!

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A bumpy tongue is normal, but what if it all the sudden appears smooth and shiny!? You may be lacking vitamin B6! Along with a shiny tongue, rashes in skin folds, mouth ulcers, intense fatigue, and generalized nerve pain may be symptoms as well. B6 deficiencies, as the other B vitamin deficiencies mentioned above, are extremely rare! Diseases that can lead to this deficiency include alcoholism and diabetes, but still very rare.

Thankfully, with the world we live in today and all the advances, we have fortified foods and a huge variety when it comes to diet. Therefore, becoming severely deficient in any vitamins is hard to do. View food as medicine, eat all the colorful fruits and vegetables and your body will be happy, thriving, and you’ll feel GOOD!


 

Back to School: Easy Lunches and Healthy Snacks

For some parents, the end of August is the best time of year when the kids go back to school! For others, not so much, going back to school is dreaded and the summer bucker list still has many activities left unchecked! The beginning of a new school year means getting back into a routine, back to packing lunches, figuring out healthy snack ideas to grab on-the-go to after school activities, and all the other hustle bustle that comes along with it. Here is a blog post for all of you parents needing healthy lunch and snack ideas!

Lunches

Main Meals:

  • Sandwiches- for picky eaters or just to make more appealing, try cutting the sandwich into fun shapes! Make lunch exciting!

    • Deli meat (ham, turkey, chicken, roast beef, etc), cheese, maybe even throw some greens on there.

    • Good ol’ peanut butter and jelly

    • Chicken, tuna, or egg salad sandwiches

  • Instead of a sandwich, switch it up and make a wrap

  • Leftovers from the night before

  • Mini pizzas made on bagels

  • Finger food lunch- diced ham, cheese cubes, and crackers

  • Chicken, tuna, or egg salad with crackers

  • Soup in a thermos

  • Cubed ham or chicken and cheese kebab

  • Quesadillas

  • Deli meat roll ups: roll deli meat around cheese, cream cheese, along with some greens

  • Lettuce wraps

  • Diced chicken and rice or rice noodles

  • Cold noodle salad

  • Breakfast for lunch! Pancakes/ waffles

Sides:

  • Fresh fruit and veggies!

    • To make mornings run smoother, get the prepackaged containers of carrots and ranch, apples and dip, etc. if saving time is what you are after.

    • Another tip: the beginning of the week separate fruit and veggies into small containers or zip lock bags to make it quicker in the mornings.

  • Apple sauce cups or pouches

  • Chia seed pouches

  • Fruit cups

  • Yogurt cups or Go-Gurts (lunch hack- put Go-Gurts in the freezer the night before, pack it in the lunch box in the morning and should be thawed just in time for lunch!)

  • Salad

  • Crackers and cream cheese or dip

  • Chips

  • Pretzels and hummus

  • Celery and peanut butter (throw in some chocolate chips to top with!)

  • Sliced apples and peanut butter

  • Baby carrots and cucumber slices, with dip

  • Popcorn

  • Hard-boiled egg

  • Cheese stick, slices, or cubes

  • Summer sausage slices, or beef stick

 

After school when the kids come home, the first thing that comes out of their mouth usually isn’t how their day was, it’s “I’m hungry, I need a snack!” It can be so easy to have the cupboard stock piled with prepackaged snacks, granola bars, crackers, etc. and yes, those are essential when you have kids! But fueling them with nutritious foods as often as you can is important too! Here are some ideas of easy healthy snacks for after school!

Snacks:

  • Homemade granola or homemade granola bars

  • Trail mix

    • Let the kids help! Have them pick a few of their favorites (dried fruit, cereal, nuts, crackers, and yes maybe even some M&M’s or chocolate chips!) Toss it all into a large bowl, then divide into snack sized baggies. It’s a quick grab and go snack!

  • Smoothies

  • Muffins- make a variety of muffins and freeze them. They will last longer and can be thawed or microwaved whenever they are needed!

  • Pudding

  • Hummus and veggies

  • Toast with peanut butter and fruit

  • Avocado toast

  • Popcorn

  • Yogurt and fruit/ granola

  • Apples and peanut butter

  • Chips and salsa or guacamole

  • Mini pizza on a tortilla or bagel

  • Homemade fruit roll- ups

  • Rice crispy treats and fresh fruit

  • Frozen yogurt pops (homemade or put Go-Gurts in the freezer for a cool treat!)

  • Frozen grapes

  • Homemade cookies

The biggest thing you can do to help yourself out during those crazy school days is to prepare ahead of time! Make up a big container of granola on Sunday afternoon/ evening and divide it up into baggies for quick snacks, pack lunches the night before. Do what you can to help make the mornings not so hectic! Most of all - don’t over stress, take it one day at a time, and eventually you will fall into a good routine! Give yourself grace!


Psoriasis 101

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, scaly, itchy patches of skin. More than 8 million Americans are affected by psoriasis. Psoriasis is developed equally by men and women, and occurs in all racial groups. It’s common for psoriasis to develop between age 15-35, however any age can get, on a rare occasion even infants!

August is psoriasis awareness month; the goal is to educate those who are unfamiliar with this common disease.

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. What is known is that the immune system along with genetics play a role. The scaly red patches that can be itchy and even painful occur because the life cycle of skin cells is sped up and grow at an abnormally fast rate, which leads to a buildup of dead skin cells on the skins surface. Psoriasis can range from small dandruff- like patches to much larger patches. It can flare up for weeks or months at a time, and then subside or go into remission.

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Symptoms:

  • Red patches with thick silvery scales

  • Dry cracked skin, may lead to bleeding

  • Itching

  • Burning

  • Soreness

  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails

  • Swollen or stiff joints

Are there different types of psoriasis?

Yes! There are 5 different types of psoriasis.

  •        Plaque psoriasis- the most common form. Consists of red patches with silvery buildup of dead skin cells that tend to be itchy and painful. Often shows up on scalp, knees, elbows, and low back.

  •        Guttate- the second most common type. This form appears as small dot- like lesions. It can be triggered by a strep infection and often starts in childhood or early adulthood.

  •        Inverse- with this form, many people have another type of psoriasis somewhere else on the body. Inverse shows up on body folds (behind the knee, under the arm, or in the groin region) as smooth, shiny, red lesions.

  •        Pustular- can occur on any part of the body, but most often it’s on the hands or feet. Pustular consists of white pustules surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells and is not contagious.

  •        Erythrodermic- is a rare form only occurring in 3% of people. It’s widespread fiery redness that covers most of the body. It causes itching, pain, and the skin comes off in sheets. Erythrodermic flares can be life threatening and patients having a flare should see a doctor immediately.

 

1 in 3 people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis which affects joints, tendons, and ligaments.

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What treatment options are available?

It’s important to work with your physician and set goals for managing your psoriasis effectively to reduce your risk for comorbidities and improve your overall health. There are different forms of treatment:

►      Biologics- made from living sources (human, animal, or bacteria cells), they are given as an injection or IV infusion. They work to lower the overactive immune system and decrease inflammation.

►     Oral treatments- some target specific cells of the immune system, others may target the immune system as a whole.

►     Phototherapy- using UV light to treat.

►      Topical treatments- creams, lotion, ointments, or shampoos applied directly to the skin.

►      Other treatments: natural products, mind and body practices, pain management, diet and lifestyle changes.

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