Brazil nuts originate from the South American rainforests, especially abundant in the amazon. Brazil nut trees can live to be more than 500 years old, and require the presence of a specific orchid that attracts the particular bee that is needed to pollinate the flowers. Unable to be farmed, Brazil nuts are harvested from wild […]
Nuts are an essential addition to any diet – but Brazil nuts are particularly good for us, being a rich source of selenium. Watch the video below to find out more!
The difference between cacao and cocoa
It’s a question asked by my patients all the time.
To simplify things, cacao and cocoa are actually the same things. They both come from the same plant originally – the cocoa bean. The production of each of the powders is what differentiates them. With traditional cocoa they take the beans and roast them at a pretty high temperature,then they grind them up into cocoa powder.
What happens with cacao is the raw bean is ground up into powder,so any type of cooking and processing actually reduces the nutritional content of foods. In the case of cacao vs. cocoa, the cacao is superior because it has a higher amount of antioxidants,vitamins and minerals because it’s in its natural state.
Now in saying that, cocoa isn’t bad for you – it still contains some antioxidants. So if you eat something likedark chocolate, you willstill get some antioxidants ,but it is just not as amazing as having cacao.
So, I don’t think cocoa particularly needs to be avoided, but if you have a choice and you’re using it in smoothies etc., I would really go for cacao just because you’ll get that little bit more bang of, vitamins and minerals.
Transcript: Wheat Free vs Gluten Free – 2 Minutes to Health
In this episode I’m going to talk about wheat free versus gluten free.
Hi, I am naturopath Katherine Maslen, welcome to Two Minutes to Health. In today’s episode I’m going to be talking about wheat free versus gluten free. So the deal is that if something is gluten-free it’s also wheat free. However if something is wheat free it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is gluten-free because there is a lot of other grains that contain gluten as well, as wheat containing gluten there is also rye, spelt or kamut or khorasan which is another name for it. There’s also barley and triticale.
All of those grain also contain gluten but they are wheat free essentially. The difference is that if you’re eating a wheat free product it might not actually be gluten-free but it might actually be okay on your digestive system because the gluten in this product is a little different than it is in wheat. Wheat contains a lot of gluten, the gluten protein molecules are quite big whereas the proteins in spelt, Kamut and rye are actually a lot more digestible. A lot of people find that if they eliminate wheat rather than gluten, their digestive system is okay.
On the other hand there are people who just can’t tolerate gluten whatsoever. So if you can’t have gluten you can’t have any of those grains and it has to be gluten-free. Your gluten-free grains are going to be things like rice, corn, millet, amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. They are the kind of gluten-free grains that you’re looking for. So remembering that wheat free doesn’t necessarily mean gluten-free. If it is gluten-free it is not going to have any wheat or gluten in it.
I am naturopath Katherine Maslen this has been Two Minutes to Health. Please subscribe to my channel and if you do have a question, please leave it in the box below and I will be happy to answer it.
Vitamin D is so important for health. In this episode of 2 Minutes to Health you’ll learn why.
In this episode of 2 Minutes to Health, I explain why coconut oil is so healthy and how you can use it in your diet to improve health.
Video Transcript is below:
In Today’s video I’m going to be talking about coconut oil and what kinds of health benefits it has.
Hi, I’m naturopath Katherine Maslen, welcome to two minutes to health.
In today’s video I’m going to be talking about coconut oil.
Coconut oil is one of my favorite health foods and the reason is that it has a really excellent fat balance. So there is a little bit of a myth out there how coconut oil is high in saturated fats so it’s bad. To be honest, it does have saturated fat in it but it but that does not make it bad or an unhealthy food.
In fact, coconut oil has a really good amount of what we call medium chain triglycerides which are really, really essential for energy production in the body and for your general health. So I do actually recommend coconut oil as a really good and healthy or that you can consume every day.
The other thing that coconut has is a thing called Lauric Acid and Lauric acid has been shown to be really antifungal and antimicrobial so it’s really good for kind of helping to keep down bad gut bacteria too. You can also use it as an antifungal on the skin for any type of fungus or candida, that kind of thing; so fantastic food.
Now coconut oil is very stable and it’s really good for cooking and in fact, it’s one of the few oils that I do recommend for cooking. Coconut oil can be used for frying, it can be used in baking, it can be used just raw, you can put it in smoothies, you can mix it into porridge and things so it is really actually versatile and it’s easy to get around a table spoon a day into your diet and I think that’s a good way to go.
I’m naturopath Katherine Maslen, this has been Two Minutes to Health, thanks for joining me.
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’m passionate about organic food. Eating 100% organic is not always possible – for reasons like budget constraints or unavailability.
Every year a study is conducted to evaluate the levels of pesticides and herbicides in conventional fruit and vegetables in the US. In Australia our farming practices are similar to that of the US so this can be used as a general guide when buying conventional produce to avoid the most chemical laden foods.
The fruit and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides are called the ‘dirty dozen’. The foods with the least amount of pesticide residue are called the ‘clean fifteen’. Here is a summary of this years report:
The Dirty Dozen
Avoid these foods if possible – or buy organic.
- Red capsicum
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sugar snap peas
- Kale/collard greens
The report noted in particular:
Every nectarine sample and 99% of apple samples tested positive to at least one pesticide residue.
The average potato had more pesticides than any other food, by weight.
A single grape contained 15 pesticides.
Single samples of celery, cherry tomato, sugar snap peas and strawberries had 13 different pesticides in them.
The Clean Fifteen
These foods contain little residues of pesticides and rarely contain more than 1 pesticide.
- Sweet corn
- Peas (frozen)
- Kiwi fruit
- Rockmelon (cantaloupe)
- Sweet potato
The report noted that:
Avocados were cleanest – only 1% of avocado samples had any detectable pesticides.
89% of pineapples, 82% of kiwi fruit, 80% of papayas, 88% of mangoes and 61% of rockmelons had no residues.
No single fruit from the clean 15 tested positive for more than 4 different pesticides.
Only 5.5% of the clean fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.
So what does this mean?
Eating organic is always the safest way to go – but if you simply can’t avoiding fruit and vegetables in the dirty dozen is a good place to start to reduce your intake of pesticides.
To view the full report – visit the environmental working group website.
There is a lot of mounting evidence for the role of bacterial biofilms in the persistence of chronic infections and the associated conditions that they cause or exacerbate. Bacteria are becoming increasing resistant to antibiotics and attack by your immune system. The reason for this is that bacteria are evolving to thwart efforts to kill them.
Many bacteria will lose their cell membranes – making them impermeable to certain antibiotics. Perhaps an even more effective defense is that of biofilms – where the bacteria group together, sometimes with other types of bacteria and create a natural biofilm – a cover made from proteins that very effectively protect the bacteria from attack.
Within this biofilm, bacteria are safe from attack from your immune system and any herbal or medical antibiotic therapy. This can lead to very slow progress for the patient and a long drawn out treatment time, if they are able to get on top of it at all.
What conditions are biofilms associated with?
This is nor a complete list – nearly any bacterial infection has the potential for biofilm creation.
Lyme Disease – The spiral bacteria Borellia is difficult to eradicate due to the presence of biofilms.
Chronic Sinusitis – some studies have shown up to 80% of patients with surgery due to chronic sinusitis have evidence of bacteria within biofilms.
Mouth and teeth problems – plaque is a biofilm, harboring bacteria, which can lead to cavities and gingivitis
Chronic wounds – bacterial biofilms in wounds can prevent wounds from healing.
Cystic fibrosis – Individuals with cystic fibrosis have bacteria colonizing in the lungs from a young age. Early on Staphylococcus aureus and Hemophilus influenza can form biofilms but in later stages Pseudomonas aeruginosa is more virulent. P. aeruginosa is associated with mortality in cystic fibrosis.
Recurring urinary tract infections – recurring UTIs may be due to the presence of biofilm on the bladder wall, preventing effective treatment of the infection.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia – CFS and FM can be associated with many different bacterial infections, many of which can remain virulent with biofilms.
How do you treat biofilms?
Treatment to breakdown biofilms is essential in and disease which involves chronic infection. In my patients I use a biofilm breakdown protocol which can involve the use of specific enzyme therapy to ‘digest’ the film, along with specific herbs which have been shown to be effective in targeting biofilms.
Fortunately, herbal antibacterials and antifungals do not have the same problems as antibiotics around bacterial resistance, and a targeted biofilm attack protocol along with specific antibacterial or antifungal treatments is usually very effective in bringing down levels of overgrown or infectious pathogens.
If you’d like to know if Katherine can help with your particular condition, ask her a question or call 07 3367 0337.
This is a great video about biofilms with some imagery on how they work…
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What is a cholesterol lowering diet?
A cholesterol lowering diet is aimed at assisting the body to reduce cholesterol using cholesterol lowering foods and avoiding foods which increase cholesterol levels. This is very different to traditional low cholesterol diets, which aim on reducing cholesterol intake in a bid to reduce cholesterol levels. Only a small amount of our endogenous cholesterol levels are from ingestion of cholesterol, the rest is made by our body. High cholesterol can be a result of the wrong dietary choices over a period of time, an inflammatory disease process, a hypothyroid condition or even allergies! The following dietary advice is aimed at helping to lower your cholesterol levels.
The following foods are associated with cholesterol lowering properties:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Linseed Oil
- Mustard Green
Fibre helps to lower cholesterol by binding to bile, which is made from cholesterol, and carrying through the bowel for excretion. This means that the bile is not reabsorbed and needs to be produced by the liver again from cholesterol, lowering endogenous levels.
The following foods are high in beneficial fibre which increases the excretion of cholesterol:
- Slippery Elm
- Psyllium Husk
- Wholegrain products
- Linseed Meal
- Brown Rice
- Black Rice
Another aspect of cholesterol to look at is the high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) ratio. HDL cholesterol is beneficial as it bounces off the blood vessel walls, cleaning up excess cholesterol and fats that have stuck to the walls and carrying them back to the liver for metabolism. In contrast, LDL cholesterol is damaging to its low density as it bounces against the blood vessel walls and leaves splats of bad cholesterol particles that stick to the blood vessel walls. It is these particles which are the predisposing factor to atherosclerosis as they make it easy for calcification to occur, leading to blockages which cause heart failure and strokes.
Foods which increase HDL and decrease LDL are:
- Nuts and their cold pressed oils – almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts
- Seeds and their cold pressed oils – sesame seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds
- Globe artichoke
- Linseeds and linseed oil
- Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Apples with ski
- Linseeds / Linseeds oil
- Brown and black rice
- Fish – mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, blue eyed cod
Cholesterol actually serves an antioxidant role in the body, so when antioxidant status is low it can cause an increase in cholesterol levels. Increasing antioxidant foods in the diet can therefore help to lower cholesterol by decreasing oxidative stress but will also have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system, preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
The following foods are good source of antioxidants:
- Black Olives
- White Tea
- Wheat Grass
- Red Grapes
- Brazil Nuts
- Red Wine
- Green Tea
What increases my cholesterol?
Now that we’ve covered all the beneficial foods you should be including in your diet, it’s time to discuss what kind of factors will have an unfavourable effect on your cholesterol levels, and should therefore be avoided.
Trans-fats are created by oxidation of the fat molecule, which causes it to change from its natural cis formation to a trans formation. This form is not easily digested or metabolised by the body, and studies have shown that trans-fatty acid intake is associated with inflammation, increased oxidative stress and poor cholesterol and fat parameters.
The main sources of trans-fats that should be avoided are:
- Spreadable Butter
- Deep Fried Foods
- Oil which is not cold pressed
- Cooking Spray Oils
Sugar and simple carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for the body, so when our diet is high in simple carbohydrates the body uses this excess energy to convert to fat which then can increase our cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Simple carbohydrate sources which should be avoided include:
- White Bread
- White Crackers
- Jasmine Rice
- Jams and Spreads
- Canned Fruit/Veg with added sugar
A high saturated fat intake has been associated with high cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is however beneficial, it should just be consumed in small amounts compared to the other fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet, which should be consumed more frequently.
Limiting the amount of the following will ensure you are not consuming too much saturated fat:
- Excess Fat on Meat
- Chicken Skin
- Hard Cheese
- Fatty Meats
Low fat products
Low fat products generally tend to be high in sugar, and as mentioned above this can lead to increased cholesterol levels. Low fat dairy products usually contain milk solids to make them creamier. Milk solids are in fact milk powder and are high in oxidised cholesterol due to the high heat process by which they are made. It is in fact better to have full fat products in moderation than it is to ingest these oxidated cholesterol containing foods.
The following low fat products should be avoided:
- Skim/Trim/Low fat/No fat milk – if you insist on low fat milk try Mungali Creek organic low fat, TRIM or you’ll love coles skim milk as these do not contain milk solids
- Low fat cream, yogurt, cheese, ice-cream or other dairy products
- Other products that claim to be low in fat but are high in added sugar (Check labels)
So how do I put these dietary changes into action?
Making changes to your diet can be difficult, which is why it is important to take things slowly, changing one or two things at a time. Your practitioner will assist you in choosing which dietary changes are best to try first and will give you practical dietary advice along with recipes.
There are many options available to you as substitutions for foods that you enjoy in your daily diet – try using xylitol (a natural fruit sugar found in health food shops) instead of sugar, or substituting low fat milk for rice or oat milk.
What other things can I do to reduce my cholesterol?
Regular exercise is an integral part of cholesterol reduction as it helps to increase metabolism and increase cholesterol excretion. Aim for 40 minutes three times a week. Try to have a mix of cardio which increases your heart rate, and strength exercises which help to reduce fatty tissue and build muscle mass.
Dehydration increases oxidative stress so be sure to drink at least 1.5 litres of filtered water a day, more if exercising or on a hot day.
The Alkaline Diet – It All Comes Down to the PH
The acid/alkaline diet may be something you have heard of before, but what does it mean? Foods have different properties when consumed. Acid or alkaline refers to the effect the food has within the body, being acid forming or alkaline forming. A common misconception is that foods such as lemon are acid, however when consumed in the body they are actually highly alkaline forming.
pH is a scale used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of certain things. The higher the pH, the more alkaline, the lower the pH, the more acid.
- Acid – 0
- Alkaline – 14
- Water – 7
- Seawater – 8.5
- Blood – 7.5
- Urine – 6
- Wine, beer and cola drinks – 3
The ideal blood pH is 7.5. Eating too many acid forming foods can reduce this pH, leading to acidity in the body. The correct pH is needed for ALL bodily functions to work correctly, from the cellular level to our metabolism and organ function.
Foods which are acid forming should therefore be reduced in the diet, and limited to 20% of your total dietary intake.
Foods which are the most acid forming in the body include:
- Refined and Processed foods
- Soft drink
- Wine, beer and other alcohol
- Black Tea
- Dairy products, especially milk and milk powder
- Artificial sweeteners
- Rancid Oils
- Most grains (except buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa)
- Most legumes (except lentils)
- Most nuts and seeds (except almonds, pepitas and sesame seeds)
Alkaline forming foods should form the basis of your diet, making up 80% of the food you eat.
As a general rule, most fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming, with the most alkaline foods being:
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, silverbeet, kale etc)
- Raw salads
- Sesame seeds
- Raw honey
- Buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa
- Spirulina, barley or wheat grass
Changing your diet
Most people have a very acid forming diet, being high in wheat, refined foods and sugar. Substantial improvements in most health conditions can be obtained by reducing acid forming foods in the diet to only 20% of your intake. This is not an easy task initially, as significant changes will need to be made to achieve this.
A good start is to look at substituting some of the acid foods for the alkaline foods:
- Wheat – use buckwheat, millet, amaranth or quinoa.
- Sugar – use raw unfiltered honey instead (honey is acid forming once cooked).
- Dairy milk – try rice milk or oat milk on cereal, BONSOY milk in tea and coffee – these are still acid but less so then dairy.
- Coffee – try a herbal tea or roasted dandelion coffee.
Try looking at your meal and imagining how you could make it more alkaline. Adding green leafy vegetables is a good way to do this, or having a salad on the side can also help. Lemon juice in water can be had on rising and before meals (30 minutes) to stimulate digestion and alkalise the body (always rinse your mouth out with fresh water after having lemon juice).
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