The Healthiest Sources of Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that is important for the healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.  Iron’s main purpose is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells throughout your body so cells can produce energy. Without enough iron, your body would not be able to create enough healthy red blood cells.

The body needs a certain amount of iron for healthy blood cells, but beyond this amount, iron can become dangerous. The access acts as a catalyst for the formation of free radicals. Once this excess iron is absorbed by the digestive tract, the body stores it. Most people accumulate much more than they need. In fact, it is much more common to have too much iron, rather than too little (anemia). The reason for this excess is because of vitamin and mineral supplements containing added iron, excess consumption of red meat, and even iron being added to manufactured foods.

The iron in red meat is a highly absorbable form of iron, called heme iron, contributing to an abundance of iron in the body. Meat also has no fiber and is high in cholesterol. This combination lends itself to excess accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries.

Meat is also high in acid. This acid must be neutralized and is neutralized by the bones, causing bone loss, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. Excess iron overworks and taxes the kidneys and liver which work as filters to bring the body hack to a more alkaline state.

The body has no way to rid itself of excess iron. Iron accumulation to such high levels that produce cancer can be prevented by simply avoiding excess iron in the diet. What are the dangers of excess iron? Cirrhosis, liver cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and bacterial & viral infections.

Iron is present in many plant foods. As a matter of fact, you can get all the iron you need with a whole-foods plant based diet. The iron found in plants is a better choice, because it is enough to promote more adequate levels without encouraging storage above the recommended range.

Though heme iron is more readily absorbed by the body than the non-heme iron found in plants, it comes with a host damaging effects and is not worth the risk. Non-heme iron from plant foods is the healthier option. So how do we maximize absorption of iron from plant foods, and make sure we are getting enough? By consuming vitamin C rich foods. Eating foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, or bell peppers at the same meal as iron rich plant foods can improve absorption.  In contrast, avoid drinking tea or coffee with your meals, as these beverages work to impair the absorption of iron.

Iron rich plant foods include:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Dried fruit
  • Spirulina
  • Whole Grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Grain Free Lemon Pancakes

Whole grains can be an important part of your diet, as they are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Refined grains, however, are not associated with good health. Unfortunately, too many people opt for refined grains. Once the grain is pulverized and reduced to a powder (and the nutrients stripped away) it gets rapidly digested and causes blood-sugar levels to spike. This leads to a number of problems within the body including increased risk for diabetes, inflammation, GI problems, food allergies, and metabolic slow-down.

But who wants to give up pancakes forever!? I have good news! You can have your pancakes. And eat them, too! Grain free pancakes.

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 chia eggs

1 cup almond flour

1/4 tapioca flour

1 tsp aluminum free baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp organic maple syrup

6-10 drops Young Living lemon essential oil

  1. Pour the almond milk into a medium sized bowl and add in the ACV, set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat, and add a bit of coconut oil to grease the surface.
  3. Stir together the flours, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. To the bowl with the almond milk and ACV, add the chia eggs, lemon drops, melted coconut oil and syrup. Whisk well.
  5. Pour in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until no lumps remain.
  6. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls into the skillet or griddle and let set until bubbles form on top. Flip and heat on the other side, another 2-5 minutes.

 

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Smoothie

Did you know combining oats and green apples is a huge nutrition boost?!

Both on their own are pretty spectacular, but combining them provides many synergistic benefits.

** The fiber in oats and the pectin in apples kick starts your metabolism, helping you detox and burn fat.

** The duo can also absorb more toxins together, and eliminate bad cholesterol from your blood. The combo also helps regulate blood pressure levels.

** And thanks to the body’s slow absorption of the carbohydrates, you’ll feel full longer, which in turn means it is good for weight management.

Adding cinnamon to this is not only tasty, but cinnamon has been shown to control blood sugar levels.

According to Dr. Mercola:

“Researchers have investigated the “insulin-like” effects of cinnamon for a number of years now, and as the latest study in Diabetic Medicine shows, cinnamon keeps proving it’s a viable contender in the fight against diabetes.

Among this spice’s most impressive health benefits is its impact on blood sugar and ability to improve glucose control.

For example, just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day has previously been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.”

 

1 cup oatmeal

1 green apple, core/seeds removed (I always leave the skin on)

2 tbsp flax seed

1 banana

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

Non-dairy milk (I like oat milk)

  1. Add everything to a blender. Pour just enough non-dairy milk in to cover the contents. Blend and enjoy!

 

Quinoa Pizza Bites

The benefits of quinoa are many, including large amounts of protein (one of the few plant foods containing all 9 essential amino acids, it contains 8g of protein per 1 cup serving), fiber, and various vitamins and minerals.

It is also high in magnesium, iron, B-vitamins, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and antioxidants.

It is gluten free and recommended for a gluten-free diet.

In addition to all those benefits, the bottom line is what is really important….these pizza bites taste GOOD.  Plus, wait till you see how easy they are to make!

1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa (I make this ahead of time)

2 cups cooked and cooled cauliflower florets, pureed (I boil or steam until soft, then once cooled I puree it in a food processor)

1 chia egg

1/4 cup brown rice flour

2 tbsp coconut flour

2 tbsp pizza sauce (I used this sauce)

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Gently form into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

How Sugar Consumption Leads to Fatty Liver

In America, it is estimated that 90 million people have fatty liver disease. 17% of them are children! Fatty liver disease used to be associated only with those who consumed too much alcohol. So how is it possible that even non-alcoholics are getting fatty liver disease, especially children!?

The culprit is sugar.

Fructose is the sugar found in everything from high fructose corn syrup and fruit juice to agave and honey and it is harmful when consumed in excess. You may be surprised to learn, that fructose is in many ways very similar to alcohol in the way that it can do damage to the body.

Even if you may be exercising caution by not overconsuming alcoholic beverages, it is now time to take a deeper look at the equally potentially damaging effects associated with the intake of sodas, fruit juices, and other fructose sweetened foods and drinks.

Sugar switches on fat production in your liver. Fructose, the most detrimental sugar which heads directly to your liver, ramps up the production of fat.  Fructose is a main player in the increasing rates of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

What about glucose? Well, unlike glucose, which can be used by virtually every cell in your body, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver. Since all fructose gets moved along to your liver, and if you eat a typical Standard American Diet (SAD) and consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol does. It is virtually identical to alcohol in regards to the metabolic havoc it wreaks. Just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – not cellular energy like glucose.

Fatty liver disease occurs when some of those fat molecules accumulate into the liver cells. The presence of those fattened cells lead to inflammation of the liver.

Dr. Robert Lustig published a paper in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and explained three similarities between fructose and alcohol:

  1. Your liver’s metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream), and fatty liver
  2. Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol.
  3. By “stimulating the ‘hedonic pathway’ of the brain both directly and indirectly,” Dr. Lustig noted, “fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol.”

Fructose causes most of the same toxic effects as alcohol because both come from sugar fermentation. They both lead to visceral fat (belly fat), insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

What’s really alarming is the rise in children who have fatty liver disease. When we feed children fructose and other highly toxic substances, we are setting them up for diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even liver transplants.

How do you know if you have a fatty liver? If you eat lots of sugar, refined grains, flour, have a little belly fat, or crave carbs you could possibly have a fatty liver.

Thankfully there are effective strategies to reverse and even prevent fatty liver.

  1. Eliminate all high-fructose corn syrup, even when it comes in the form of “healthy” foods like salad dressings and marinara sauce. There is often times hidden sugars in packaged foods.
  2. Eliminate white, processed, and refined flours.
  3. Incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Things like nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut oil.
  4. Exercise! Routine, daily exercise improves insulin resistance and reduces fatty liver.
  5. Eat detoxifying and liver supporting foods. Cruciferous vegetable and green leafy vegetables can help heal the liver. Garlic and onions are great detoxifiers as well.

Fatty Liver: How it Starts

  1. Insulin resistance increases fatty acid levels in the blood
  2. Fat accumulates in the liver cells
  3. Fat in liver calls causes inflammation and damages the liver tissue
  4. Further liver damage results in liver fibrosis and cirrhosis (by continual consumption of the SAD)
  5. This damage is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke

We must stop our reliance on convenience foods which are void of nutrition and full of harm inducing toxins. And we absolutely must stop stop stop feeding these foods and drinks to our children! Giving them a bowl of cereal or a muffin for breakfast is akin to giving them a glass of alcohol for breakfast. And no one would do that!

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

Blueberries are beneficial brain food because they are rich in antioxidants that protect your brain from oxidative damage. They are also known to be anti-cancer, an aid in weight loss efforts, and improve urinary tract health. And because their antioxidant power isn’t diminished by freezing them, they are beneficial fresh or frozen.

Adding oatmeal to this not only makes it taste delicious but it helps you feel full longer thanks to the beneficial fiber. Not only will that fiber help you feel full longer, but it’ll sweep up the waste and assist your body in eliminating it. Oatmeal is effective at reducing blood sugar levels significantly so that is great for diabetics and those with cardiovascular disease. And even though we hear all about fruits and vegetables being rich in antioxidants, oatmeal is, too!

Enjoy this smoothie as a filling breakfast, a sweet snack, or a yummy dessert!

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 banana

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I use oatmilk for this smoothie)

  1. Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth.

Pineapple Apple Ginger Juice

The anti-inflammatory and pain healing qualities of this juice are sure to make it a favorite for you as much as it is for me.

Reasons to add pineapple juice to your diet:

** aids in healthy digestion

** boosts immune system

** relieves morning sickness

** improves hypertension

** maintains healthy bones

** improves skin tone

** supports oral health

If you have never juiced ginger before, you are in for a treat. It gives this sweet juice a tiny kick. But with that kick comes some major benefits, such as:

** nausea relief

** digestive support

** boosts immune system

** improves hypertension

** anti-fungal

** pain reliever

** supports weight loss

When I juice with pineapple I also juice the core. It has a stronger concentration of bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory which can reduce pain. It is even used in the medical world to treat injuries such as ACL tears, IBS, sinus infections and ankle sprains, just to name a few. There are over 1,600 reported medical uses for bromelain! I won’t bore you listing them all here. 🙂

1/4 pineapple (skin removed)

1 green apple

1 inch ginger root

  1. Run all ingredients through a juicer and enjoy cold.

Essential Oils and Your Brain

How do essential oils affect the brain?

Our sense of smell is linked to the limbic areas of the brain, which is the emotional control center. Emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system, and it has a great deal to do with the formation of memories. The limbic system also controls parts of our brain that regulate heart rate, breathing, stress levels, memory, blood pressure, and hormone balance.

When essential oils are inhaled, they travel to the brain. They can have a tremendous impact on both psychological and physiological effects on the limbic system.

Each essential oil has its own therapeutic calming and balancing properties. When we inhale an essential oil, its particles travel through the nasal passage to a receptor neuron that transports it to the limbic brain. Essential oils have the ability to pass the blood/brain barrier to help stabilize DNA and cellular memory. When inhaled through the nose, the essential oil stimulates tiny nerves that transmit a signal to the brain and begin to work on systems that regulate our body and our mind. This can have instant effects as inhaling through the nose is the quickest pathway to the brain.

Researchers found that sesquiterpenes, a natural compound found within the essential oils of patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, cedarwood, and frankincense, help raise oxygen levels in the brain by 28%! An increase in oxygen within the brain can stimulate activity in the limbic system and hypothalamus, which can result in immediate effects on attitude, learning, emotions, and physical processes within the body such as hormone balance, immune function, and energy levels.

Essential oils are also being evaluated for treatment of brain injuries. When the brain sustains an injury, from a mild concussion to a serious head trauma, it takes a lot of time to heal. Frankincense oil can help speed up the process by supporting increased oxygenated blood traveling to the brain. When the brain absorbs more oxygen, it is able to retain and process information, function better and heal optimally.

Diffusing essential oils in a cold air diffuser may have these benefits:

  • Relax the body and mind, relieve tension
  • Help with weight management
  • Improve hormonal balance
  • Relieve headaches
  • Stimulate neurotransmitters
  • Improve concentration, mental clarity, and alertness
  • Stimulate secretion of endorphins

 

When it comes to aromatherapy, you want the highest quality in essential oils. I choose Young Living because they are the world leader in quality essential oils. I love that Young Living owns and operates all their farms. They have high standards for the land they plant on. They won’t even plant a seed on soil that has been chemically treated. They also do their own distillation and bottling. Their hands are in every aspect from SEED to SEAL. Nothing gets outsourced. You can be 100% sure that what you are getting is 100% PURE essential oil.

Get your own starter kit of oils by clicking here.