January 24, 2017

End Fibromyalgia Fatigue with Chocolate

Chocolate can help fibromyalgia sufferers by reducing inflammation, increasing energy and promoting alertness.

Let the rejoicing begin!  Eating a small chocolate bar every day helps fights exhaustion!  What?!  You mean chocolate is good for your health!?  Absolutely!

chocolate-helps-fibromyalgiaMany people who have fibromyalgia crave chocolate. One reason for this is because chocolate’s high magnesium content. And magnesium is something that most fibromyalgia patients lack.

Studies show that fibromyalgia sufferers are deficient in nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. Raw cacao contains both of these, and thus can help you to restore those nutrients back in your body.

Calcium and magnesium both can help to regulate your muscles so that you can overcome muscle spasms and relax.

Scientists have also discovered that eating DARK chocolate (60-85% cacoa) can help relieve the chronic pain and cognitive issues associated with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia leaves sufferers exhausted with neurological problems, but they can feel better after eating dark chocolate. Imagine, benefit healing health from a candy bar!

Did you say chocolate?

Chocolate cravings are nothing new, but we’ve always been told chocolate is bad for us because it contains too much sugar.  The truth is too much refined sugar can worsen inflammation and pain in fibromyalgia sufferers (or for anyone).  However, dark chocolate with higher cacao content and less milk and sugar than milk chocolate can actually improve your health.

Here is why:

  • dark-chocolate-benefitsCacoa helps your body produce nitric oxide, which is important for blood flow and blood pressure, promoting healthy circulation.(1)
  • Cacoa also contains many flavanoids (called flavanols), which possess high antioxidant properties.(2) Flavonols relieve inflammation and prevent wear-and-tear damage on your cells. (3)
  • Dark chocolate also contains tryptophan and cannabinoids. These compounds can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Theobromine, caffeine, tyramine and phenylethylamine (PEA) are stimulants in cocoa that can improve the energy level of the fibromyalgia sufferer. (4)
  • Dark cocoa may help this situation by stabilizing the nerve roots and repairing the nerves, resulting in improved neuropathy and a decrease in pain. It might take a while, but it may help.
  • Cocoa is a natural anti-inflammatory. The cocoa is an antihistamine, which stops acid production in the stomach. It also works on COX2 pathways, which does not affect the stomach.
  • The cacao in dark chocolate may also promote the production of natural opiates in the brain. These can help relieve pain and promote a feeling of well-being. (5)

This doesn’t mean that we should all binge on chocolate regularly — we do still have to worry about the sugar and calories!  However, we only need about 0.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day to get the desired benefits.(6)  Dark chocolate therapy seems to work best in the morning.

One woman claimed that by eating an ounce of cacao-rich chocolate every morning she was able to relieve her fibromyalgia symptoms. She said it helped her with muscle pains, migraine headaches etc. and she was able to go off all her “fibro meds.”  In fact, she was so convinced of the healthy aspects of natural cacao that she opened a chocolate shop dedicated to pure dark chocolate.  She recommends eating a serving of 85% cocoa dark chocolate slowly, savoring the taste and making the most of its pleasurable benefits.[7]

These days, there are dozens of dark chocolate choices, and you can spend hours poring over the cacao percentages and exotic provenances on the labels. You can pay a lot more, too. But does any of it really matter and how do you choose a good dark chocolate?

Darker chocolates, with higher cacao percentages are less sweet, but are still probably located in the candy aisle. The cacao percentage on the label of a dark chocolate bar is a total that includes both cacoa solids and cocoa butter—meaning that different chocolates can have different proportions of each and still share the 60 percent dark cacao designation.

Does the chocolate with the most cocoa butter make the best tasting chocolate?  Not always.  Sometimes, the lowest fat chocolate bars are the richest, creamiest dark chocolate to savor.  Here are some recommended brands for fibromyalgia sufferers (or anyone!) that are the best balance of cocoa butter, cacoa solids and sugar:

  • Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate, L-60-40NV (60%):
    Intense rich chocolate with an espresso flavor and caramel aftertaste, nice balance of sweetness and bitterness, complex favor, creamy and thick.
  • best-dark-chocolateGhirardelli’s Chocolate Intense Dark Twilight Delight (72% cacao)
    Balanced chocolate flavor with smoky and fruity undertones, glossy and creamy.
  • Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao Dark Chocolate (60%):
    Nice eating chocolate that is creamy and not bitter, earthy.
  • Green & Black’s ORGANIC 85% Cacao Bar
    Cocoa butter and a touch of vanilla combines with 85% Trinitario Cacao, to produce a smooth and intensely dark chocolate experience.
  • Trader Joe’s Cacao Dark Chocolate  (72%)
    A  dark, very rich, and full-bodied chocolate imported from Belgium. Smooth, nicely balanced, and not intensely bitter.
  • Valrhona Le Noir Amer Cacao Dark Bittersweet Chocolate (71%)
    Super complex, bitter, fruity, slightly sour, with just a smidge of sweetness.
  • Chocolove (70%)
    Strong, bittersweet Belgian dark chocolate crafted primarily from African cocoa beans and a small amount of Caribbean coco beans. Intense, well-rounded cocoa flavors melt smoothly in your mouth then transition to a pleasant cocoa aftertaste.
  • Newman’s Own Organics Organic Premium Chocolate Bar, Super Dark (70%)
    Closet milk chocolate fans posing as dark chocolate fiends: this is your bar. It’s quite sweet and mildly bitter without being bland. The hints of coconut and vanilla aren’t too distracting and keep it interesting. Really creamy, too.

For some there is therapy, but for the rest of us there is chocolate.

 

 

Grandma Barton (Grandma’s Cure Corner) is mother to Joe Barton (founder of Barton Publishing), grandmother to 6 grandkids and 28 step-grandkids, and over 3,000 Home Cures That Work members. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor with the help of Dr. Saunders and natural remedies. Grandma loves finding cures within the home to treat all sorts of ailments. With tips she’s learned on the farm and along the way, Grandma Barton brings a time-tested and trusted voice when it comes to home remedies. She really is an inspiration to us all.

 

 

 

Sources:
[1] The Drs. Wolfson, “10 Foods to Boost Nitric Oxide,” December 14, 2015, https://www.thedrswolfson.com/10-foods-nitric-oxide/.
[2] Sue Ingebretson, “Fibromyalgia and Chocolate: What New Research Says about Health Benefits,” ProHealth, February 14, 2016, http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=25517.
[3] Fibromyalgia.org, “Fibromyalgia and Chocolate,” nd, http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/chocolate.html.
[4] Fibromyalgia.org.
[5] Fibromyalgia.org.
[6] Sharon Basaraba, “How Much Dark Chocolate Should I Eat to Live Longer?” Very Well.com, February 29, 2016, https://www.verywell.com/how-much-dark-chocolate-should-i-eat-to-live-longer-2223572.
[7] Jane Donahue, “Chocolate Changed Café Owner’s Life,” Chicago Tribune, February 12, 2016, http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/ct-nvs-dining-west-chocolat-du-bouchard-st-0219-20160212-story.html.

Foods to Calm and Lower Anxiety

Controlling Gut Behavior

by Amanda Box, N.D.

We have all felt it at some point in our lives. The feeling that paralyzes us sends us into a cold sweat and lends our heart to beat at the speed of light. Anxiety is fear incarnate. It originates from our worries, our fear of failure or simply believing worst is bound to happen.

I personally battle with anxiety. I loathe the awful sense of powerlessness that anxiety brings. But it is a battle over the mind and one that isn’t always easily won!

Releasing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones can overcome anxiety. One important way to do this is processing through thoughts and fears on paper and with a friend or counselor.

However, what you put into your body can also affect the intensity of your anxiety. Though much of anxiety originates from thoughts and mindset, a healthy body is important for a healthy mind! Our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. So keeping all three aspects healthy is imperative for overcoming anxiety.

Food affects our mood. Particular foods create calm, while other foods produce anxiety. The key to overcoming afflicting anxiety just may be a diet that enhances a sense of peace and a calm mind.

Below are two lists of foods. The first is the list of foods to avoid that promote anxiety. These foods stimulate the nervous system or increase stress hormone production like cortisol. If you battle anxiety, then totally eliminate these foods from your diet to feel your best.

The second is a list of foods that help ease anxiety. These foods contain nutrients that promote a calm mind and help lower stress levels in the body. Make them a regular part of your diet and they will keep you calm and lower your anxiety.

4 Foods to Avoid for Anxiety

1. Caffeine

This is by far the most obvious food on the list to avoid. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and can cause physical manifestations of anxiety, even if anxious thoughts aren’t present. It speeds the heart rate and can lead to an over-excited jittery feeling that exacerbates or creates anxiety. Some people do well with just a small amount of caffeine in the morning. However, eliminating it all together is best for calming the mind and body.

2. Sugar

When I refer to sugar, I am not just referring to white sugar. I am referring to all things that encompass sugar: fruit juice, corn syrup and honey, etc. All these sugary foods can negatively affect the body.   They spike blood sugar levels which, in turn, flood your body with cortisol, a stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high, you can feel on edge and anxious. Therefore, steer clear of sugary drinks and desserts. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners that do not affect the blood sugar such as stevia.

3. Processed Foods

Processed foods included already made meals like boxed foods and fast foods. These foods contain a plethora of ingredients that are nearly unpronounceable. This abundance of fake food is not tolerated well by your body. Chemicals from the artificial preservatives and other ingredients can aggravate the brain by exciting neurotransmitters. This creates a sense of anxiousness and overstimulation. Many of the artificial ingredients are additive as well. Your body begins to crave these processed foods and you become anxious if you’re not able to eat them. The best way to avoid processed foods is to choose foods as close to their natural state as possible and cook your meals from scratch.

Also, read labels. If you see ingredients that sound more like chemicals than food, but it back on the shelf and buy something healthier!

4. Alcohol

Many people drink alcohol to help calm their nerves. However, alcohol can backfire. It can cause an even higher level of anxiety the following day.

  • Alcohol depresses the body.
  • That depression can carry through to the following day.
  • Depression feeds anxiousness.

The short term fix that alcohol creates can also be addictive, creating a cycle of anxiety and more depression.

Foods to Eat to Calm Anxiety

Pumpkin Seeds

Green pumpkin seeds are high in zinc. Studies have found that anxiety is linked to a zinc copper imbalance. Too much copper and not enough zinc in your body can cause anxiety. Just a small handful a day of pumpkin seeds provides a daily dose of zinc! Pumpkin seeds provide a healthy balance that offers relief for people suffering from anxiety.

Fatty Fish

Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and sardines can increase EPA levels in the brain. EPA is the primary anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid for the brain. High levels of EPA are correlated to a calmer mood and lessened anxiety. Essentially, EPA will make you happier and better able to handle stress. If you don’t consume large amounts of fish, then purified fish oil supplements can increase your EPA.

dark chocolate can reduce stress and anxietyDark chocolate

In a study of chocolate’s health benefits, eating 40 grams of dark chocolate (74% cocoa) every day for two weeks significantly reduced stress hormone levels. Those tested also noted feeling less anxious after eating the chocolate. This is likely due to cocoas flavonol content. Flavonols are a subclass of flavonoids, natural chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables that repair cellular damage. Flavonoids are antioxidants so they help to lower stress and inflammation throughout the body.

Turkey

Turkey is high in amino acid l-tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm. Tryptophan found in protein like turkey has been found in studies to lower anxiety levels!

Full-fat yogurt or kefir

The majority (95%!) of serotonin, your feel good neurotransmitter that keeps you happy and calm, is produced in the gut. Therefore it is important to eat foods that help maintain proper intestinal balance.

To cultivate proper bacterial balance in the gut, go no further than your refrigerator! Naturally elevate your mood and reverse anxiety with fermented foods. The bacteria in fermented foods create an environment suitable for proper serotonin production. Fermented foods like kefir and yogurt contain probiotics that restore your gut health. Since gut microbes may influence your behavior, this is proof that fermented foods make us happier!

Tea (chamomile and green tea)

Each of these teas has anxiety reducing benefits.

The effect of chamomile is to soothe and calm the nervous system. When feeling anxious, drink chamomile to relax. Studies showed drinking chamomile tea lowered anxiety in 2 weeks! Best of all, chamomile comes without the nasty side effects of traditional anxiety and depression medications.

Green tea contains amino acid l-theanine, which has a soothing, calming effect on people who drink it. L-Theanine stimulates production of brain waves known as alpha waves. Alpha waves indicate a person is relaxed. L-Theanine also increases the levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These two neurotransmitters directly affect a person’s mood and help induce a sense of calm and relaxation.

So, alleviate your mood and feel better by drinking quality green tea!

eggs induce relaxation and promote sleepEggs

Eggs contain copious amounts of choline, needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is essentially the opposite of adrenaline. It induces a state of relaxation and promotes sleep. Farm raised cage free eggs are the best choice. They are fresher and have higher levels of nutrients. Eggs just may give you a new reason to come out of any depressing anxiety phase!

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are low in calories, and high in many nutrients, including magnesium. Magnesium is a natural nervous system relaxant. A lack of magnesium can cause electrical changes in your brain.

Most diets are deficient in magnesium, and stress causes our bodies to deplete this important mineral. This is why getting enough magnesium in your diet while you’re stressed is so important. This essential mineral is key to relaxation and a lowered sense of anxiety. Nutrition just may trump any other form of self-help anxiety methods!

The Gut-Brain Connection

As mentioned earlier, our gut and our brain have an intimate connection. Many refer to the gut as the second brain, and for good reason! Our enteric nervous system is the name of the nervous system that resides in our gastrointestinal tract and enables us to “feel” the inner world of our gut and its contents. It is equipped with its own reflexes and senses to control gut behavior.

Our central nervous system, which is located in our brain and spinal column, is connected through the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem down to the abdomen.

It is through the vagus nerve that gut bacteria transmit information to the brain. Thus, the nerves in our gut probably influence a big part of our emotions.

Also, the gut produces more serotonin in the gut than it does in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us to feel good and it produces a sense of calm. This gut-brain connection applies to anxiety levels as well.

Dr. Kirsten Tillish, a lead author in a study of gut bacteria and anxiety stated, “Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut.”

All of this makes creating a healthy gut environment key to overcoming anxiety. I believe there are 3 keys to creating a healthy gut.

1. Probiotics

Supplementation with a daily multi-strain probiotic is important in creating a healthy bacterial environment in the gut. Fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha are also great to add into your daily diet to boost healthy bacteria.

2. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are dietary fibers that act as food for good bacteria. This allows the healthy bacteria to multiply. Some foods containing prebiotics include:

  • Chicory Root
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Jerusalem artichoke

3. Going Gluten Free

More and more research is pointing out that gluten intolerance and diseases such as Celiac, can cause anxiety and depression. Shockingly, as much as 80% of the population is thought to have some degree of gluten sensitivity!

Lectins contained in gluten can cause intestinal inflammation and permeability of the intestinal walls allowing toxic microbes to pass through the gut, into the bloodstream and to the brain causing anxiety! Some even believe that gluten itself can cause anxiety. Dr. Rodney Ford, a New Zealand-based pediatrician and author of The Gluten Syndrome, believes that gluten harms your nervous system directly and produces symptoms such as anxiety.

Going gluten free takes a firm commitment and cannot be done partially. I’ve been gluten free for nearly a year now and have no plans to go back. It has changed the health of my gut and my mind dramatically and has been worth the sacrifice. Honestly, with the rise of gluten free alternatives, I haven’t had to sacrifice much. Nearly every gluten product now has a tasty gluten free version.

Incorporating these 3 keys will create a healthy “second brain” and lower your anxiety levels. You’ll truly be amazed at how powerful the gut-brain connection is once you begin to make changes to your diet!

Below are two recipes to get you on the road to lowered anxiety and a healthy gut. The first is a salmon recipe. This incorporates the omega 3s from fatty fish and prebiotics such as garlic. Serve this with a healthy serving of asparagus on the side for even more prebiotic power. This recipe is also gluten-free!

garlic salmon with asparagusGarlic Salmon with Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb wild caught salmon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cold organic butter, cubed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the lemon juice and minced garlic; allow the lemon juice to reduce to 1 tablespoon. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter, remove pan from heat and swirl so the butter starts to melt. Place back on the heat for a few seconds, removed and continue to swirl until butter completely melts. Repeat with second tablespoon of butter. When butter is completely melted, remove sauce from stove.
  3. Place the salmon filet in a piece of foil large enough to fold over and seal. Using a brush or spoon, brush the salmon with the garlic butter sauce. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cover with foil so that all sides are properly closed so the sauce does not leak.
  4. Bake the salmon for 12-14 minutes or until firm. Open the foil and allow the fish to broil under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, keeping an eye on it so the fish does not burn. Remove from oven, top with parsley. Serve with a side of steamed asparagus.

This next recipe incorporates the mood lifting power of dark chocolate with zinc rich pumpkin seeds. Though only two ingredients, these little bites can calm a sweet tooth as well as calm the mind.

dark chocolate pumpkin seed bites Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Bites

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp of dark chocolate (at least 74% cocoa content)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (raw or roasted)

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 20 seconds. Heat for 10 second intervals, making sure to stir in between.
  2. On a piece of wax paper drip chocolate from a spoon and make 8 even circles around the size of a quarter.
  3. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds into the chocolate and slightly press down.
  4. Let dry for around an hour or place in the fridge for even faster results.

Remember, what you eat can have a huge influence on the levels of anxiety you’re feeling. Don’t rely on simply medications any longer! Take your health into your hands and begin eating in a way that lowers your anxiety. I have personally experienced the power of food choices on my anxiety and I encourage you to as well!

 

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon recipe adapted from littlespicejar.com

Nutrition for Spine Health

To understand how to overcome neck and back pain from a nutritional perspective, it takes an understanding of the anatomy of the spine. Our spine is an extremely important part of the musculoskeletal system and is not just composed of boney vertebrae.   It contains nerves, bones, ligaments, tendons, discs and muscles.  Each part of the spine has an important job in the movement, mobility and integrity of the spine.  Each component also has different nutritional needs in order to maintain optimal health.

nutrition for spine healthMaintaining the integrity of the spine requires an understanding of what nutrients feed, nourish and protect the different structures of the spine.  Below, each of the connective tissues of the spine are listed with the nutrients they need.   Incorporating this nutrition not only prevents, but also eases injury, degeneration and pain.

Every nutrient needed for spine health has a healthy food source.  Nutrition that comes straight from food is always better absorbed and utilized than just popping a vitamin or supplement.  However, in cases of extreme deficiency or compromise, supplementation may be necessary.

Nutrition for Bone Health

The 33 vertebrae of the spine itself are composed of bone tissue.  As we age, especially once we reach the age of 60, our vertebrae may begin to degenerate.

  • Bone spurs, otherwise known as osteophytes, can form on the vertebrae of the spine causing pain or discomfort.
  • Osteoporosis is another common culprit in the breaking down of the vertebrae bones of the spine.

Keeping the bone tissue of our vertebrae strong and healthy is extremely important in maintaining the strength and integrity of our back and neck! The vertebrae of our spine, like all bone, is composed of minerals.  Having the proper ratios of minerals and being able to utilize them, is what prevents bone from becoming brittle or weak.  Some of the most important nutrients in bone formation and maintenance include:

  • Calcium: Found primarily in dairy products.  However, kale and broccoli are excellent vegetable sources of calcium.
  • Magnesium: Dark chocolate is an amazing and tasty source of magnesium.  Nuts like almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds are also high in magnesium.
  • Phosphorus:  Also found in many nuts and seeds like brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Cheese is also a great source of phosphorus.
  • Vitamin D:  Eggs and fatty fish like anchovies and salmon are great healthy food sources of vitamin D.  However, 20 minutes a day of sunlight is the best way to get vitamin D and will meet your daily requirements for mineral absorption.
  • Vitamin K:  Leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus and even cucumber are natural sources of vitamin K.  The richest source of the potent K2, which is the best form for calcium absorption, is found in a japanese food called natto.  Although this fermented food is difficult to find, a pill form is easily purchased at most health food stores or online.

Nutrition for Ligaments, Tendons and Vertebral Discs

Nutrition ListMost neck and back pain has its roots in inflammation.  This inflammation typically occurs in the connective tissues of the ligaments, tendons and vertebral discs of the spine.  These important structures of the spine are composed primarily of collagen and cartilage.  Often confused, our tendons connect muscle to bone and ligaments connect bone to bone.  Both tendons and ligaments provide stability for the spine.

Vertebral discs provide cushion and act as a shock absorber between each vertebrae.  Herniated and bulging discs are one of the most common and painful problems one can endure when experience back pain.  However, an inflamed ligament or tendon can also cause extreme pain and discomfort.  When there is inflammation, pressure or irritation occurs in the nerves of the spine.  Quelling the inflammation allows the nerves to quit firing pain signals and therefore brings relief.

Though chiropractic care can greatly improve these types of spinal issues, nutrition is also important.  Eating foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties is extremely beneficial.  Also, collagen boosting foods help keep ligaments, tendons and discs flexible.  Below are some important nutrients that help support and repair the spines ligaments, tendons and vertebral discs.

  • Manganese: Found in dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and pecans.  Manganese is very important in the synthesis of cartilageinous tissue.
  • Omega-3: Found in fatty fish like sardines, tuna and salmon.  Omega-3s are both collagen forming, as well as anti-inflammatory.  I personally recommend supplementing with a quality fish oil to get an adequate daily dose.
  • Antioxidants: High antioxidant foods include berries (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries), red beans and dark chocolate.  Antioxidants support collagen formation and have anti-inflammatory properties, as well.
  • Vitamin C: Our bodies needs vitamin C to produce collagen.  Vitamin C rich foods include: oranges, lemons, limes, spinach, kale and strawberries.
  • Sulfur: Collagen cannot be formed without sulfur.  Foods high in sulfur include: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and onions.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is very important in the repair of damaged collagen.  Carrots and sweet potatoes are two of the best food sources to incorporate into your diet for adequate vitamin A.

Nutrition for Muscles

The muscles of the spine control its movement and provide support.  Strengthening these muscles with exercise is the best way to keep the back strong and prevent compromise of the spine.  However, our muscles require adequate nutritional support, as well.  The primary source of nutrition for our muscles is protein.  Some fantastic protein sources to incorporate into your daily diet include:

  • Grass fed red meat
  • Free range chicken
  • Free range eggs
  • Quality rBgh free whey protein. Choosing rBgh free whey protein is important for 2 main reasons:

1. Cows given rBgh hormones are forced to over-produce milk, therefore they are at risk for malnourishment and mastitis.

2. Residues of rBgh can contaminant the milk products and when consumed can lead to hormone disruptions and disease.

Make sure and include a protein source at each meal!  Without adequate protein, our muscles will begin to waste away.  Strong back muscles are essential to maintaining a strong healthy spine!

Nutrition for Nerves

Most neck and back pain occurs from nerve pain.  Spinal nerves become irritated from the compression and pressure from different structures of the spine.  Misalignment of vertebrae and inflammation are the two most common causes of this nerve pain.  The sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to lower legs, is one of the most common complaints of nerve pain. There are several nutrients can help calm the nerves, therefore providing pain relief.

  • L-Tryptophan: This amino acid helps to calm our nerves by boosting serotonin levels in the body.  Dark chocolate and rBgh free whey protein contain high levels of naturally occurring L-tryptophan.
  • B-Vitamins: This family of vitamins are often called the stress vitamins.  This is because they help to buffer stress in the body.  B vitamins can also help calm your nerves.  Foods high in B vitamins include sweet potatoes, yams, lentils and chickpeas.
  • Magnesium A calming mineral for the nervous system, magnesium is found in dark chocolate, bananas, brazil nuts and almonds.

Recipes for Spine Health

Incorporating the nutrition needed for a healthy spine into your diet can be easier and more delicious than you might imagine.  Remember, you spine is made up of several tissues, each one needing it’s own source of nutrients.  Luckily, some very delicious foods provide nutrients needed by several of the spines components.

Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which is important for both bone formation and nerve health. It is also a great source of manganese which is important for cartilage synthesis.  And that isn’t all!

Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants which can help with inflammation. Chocolate is a food that no one really complains about eating. But, not all chocolate is created equal.  Most chocolate is packed with sugar and does not contain enough cocoa to contain health benefits.  Look for chocolate that has over 60% cocoa content. The higher the cocoa percentage, the higher the nutritional content.

This recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge contains whole, healthy ingredients and does not contain refined white sugar.  It is so delicious, it is sure to fool even the pickiest of eaters.

health dark chocolate peanut butter fudge

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup quality dark cocoa powder
  • ½ cup of all natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Prepare a muffin pan with 10 muffin liners. Put all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse a few times until everything is smooth and nicely combined.  (It will be very liquid-y.)  Don’t over-mix.

Pour the liquid fudge into the prepared muffin liners dividing evenly between the ten of them.  There will be about a half inch of fudge in each muffin liner. Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the fudge has hardened. You can use the freezer and it only takes about 10 minutes. Remove the muffin liners from the pan and enjoy your delicious, healthy fudge!  Store in the refrigerator.

Whey protein is not only an excellent source of protein for our muscles, but it is also a great source of nerve calming L-tryptophan.  These whey protein balls are a staple in my home and make an excellent afternoon snack or grab and go breakfast.  They are also well loved by my kids who equate them to a cookie-like treat.

Chocolate Almond Protein Bites

Ingredients:

  • chocolate almond protein bites1 1/2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 handful almonds (about 20)
  • 2 packets Stevia/Truvia
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash of almond milk or coconut milk

Directions:

  • In a food processor, pulse the protein powder, cocoa powder, oats and almonds.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pulse/stir until sticky and slightly chunky. (Add in more almond or coconut milk if it won’t stick).
  • Use a spatula to scrape the sides and pulse again.
  • Roll into balls using a spoon and your hand.
  • Place on a tray and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to small baggies and place in the fridge.

Achieving true spine health requires not only exercise, chiropractic care, and good posture.  Proper nutrition is also an essential key to the maintenance and health of the spine.  Each structure of the spine is important and ignoring just one structural component of our spine can leave you in a state of pain or discomfort.  Giving your entire spine the correct nutrients will be a decision you will never regret.

You don’t have to suffer with decreased mobility or increased pain as you age!  Our body has the innate ability to heal and restore itself. Give your spine what it needs and you can feel like you did in your youth.

 

Amanda BoxAmanda Box is a Doctor of Naturopathy and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 10 years and currently has a Naturopathic consulting practice in Sioux Falls, SD.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic doctor to turn to for your personal needs, Dr. Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

Stocking a Heart Healthy Kitchen

Did you know that a heart healthy diet could help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol by 30%? Eating a heart healthy diet can produce the same results as you might get from a prescribed statin drug!! The following foods are dietary magic bullets: salmon, yogurt, oats, black beans, walnuts, blueberries, avocados, tomatoes, carrots, kale, dark chocolate and green tea. They may help lower LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Gain strength and vitality by adding these foods to your diet!

The 12 Heart Healthy Super Foods are:

12 Heart Healthy Foods

The following foods have been listed as the top foods to help lower cholesterol, unclog arteries and help maintain a healthy heart. Clean out your refrigerators and cupboards and stock up on the following foods, plus their food group companions.

Aim straight to the heart with these dietary magic bullets: salmon, yogurt, oats, black beans, walnuts, blueberries, avocados, tomatoes, carrots, kale, dark chocolate and green tea. These foods will deliver a punch that serves up nutrition, well-being, muscle and hearty taste! Take stock in these 12 super foods and serve up some mean and heart healthy, cholesterol reducing recipes!

David Randall (Healthy Recipes & Eating Ideas), diagnosed at the age of 15 with type 1 Diabetes, started to learn everything he could about living healthy. With a love for cooking, he made his way through college teaching young diabetics how to manage the disease. He then turned his ambitions towards spreading what he knows and loves to others, having ghost written for over 10 years on nutrition, vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as cooking and healthy lifestyle. David spends his free time with his family in Northern Michigan sailing, cooking and volunteering.

 

 

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