WellBelly

Pathway to Freedom

Tag: healthy dining

Seven Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Seven Benefits of Dark Chocolate 

Rarely can anything taste so good and be so good for you.  Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively effect your health in seven key ways.

The Good Stuff dark chocolate is primarily made from  at least 60% organic cocoa powder, coco butter and sugar (milk chocolate packs more sugar and fat while white has nearly no health benefits).

Dark chocolate contains soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals and antioxidants.  The primary minerals in dark chocolate include iron, magnesium, copper and manganese accompanied by smaller amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. The fat content is mostly saturated and monounsaturated with small amounts of polyunsaturates.  It also contains caffeine and theobromine but in small amounts that should not keep you awake at night.

Enjoy one to two ounces of dark chocolate guilt free to reap the following benefits:

Brain:

1. Powerful antioxidants (polyphenols) increase blood flow to the brain boosting smarts and memory.

Skin:

2. The flavinoids contained in cocoa can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.

Heart:

3. Epicatechin one of the compounds that lends cocoa its bitter taste lowers blood pressure.

4. Raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.

Energy:

5. The same epicatechin can boost your cells’ mitochondrial function.  Mitochondria are the organelles, little energy factories, found in the nucleus of every cell in the body.

Weight Loss

6. Research has found the regular chocolate eaters were slimmer than those who abstained altogether.  Chocolate satisfies cravings as it  lights up your grain’s frontal lobe, its reward center.

Mood:

7. Cocoa butter fats trigger natural endorphins (natural opiates) and serotonin (a mood modulator).  These brain chemicals induce calm, decrease pain sensation, improve sleep and elevate mood.

Tending Your Gut-Garden with Fibre

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Fibre plays an all-star role in the mini-ecosystem within our body known as the gut microbiota (gut- garden flora).  Discover the evolving science surrounding your personal gut microbiota and the ten foods to tenderly cultivate your gut-garden.

Importance of the Gut Microbiota

Science is just uncovering the benefits produced by your gut microbiota garden of primarily bacteria with some fungus and virus and a bit of non-threatening free-loaders.  So far we know that the gut microbiota is fundamental to our immune defenses as it shields against opportunistic pathogens; synthesizes vitamins B and K; aids in the absorption of calcium; makes our food digestible; impacts mental and emotional health as well as metabolic functions of energy production and calorie storage.

Comprised of 40 trillion cells, (it only takes 30 trillion cells to make the human body) from 30-40 different microbe species, the gut microbiota was designed to be self-regulating to maintain balance among the microbes of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

However, maintaining balance in this ecosystem has become a challenge for all these little guys in today’s world.  The gut-garden flora we humans inherited from a single ancestor some 15 million years ago is essential for sustaining life.   Since then, these microbes have evolved for better or worse as a consequence of our environment resulting in unique personal gut-garden microbiota.

Your individual gut-garden got its start in the birth canal and has been altered in numbers and specific microbes ever since by mother’s milk, diet; ingested chemicals, medications and medical treatments involving radiation.

Environmentally-altered imbalances in the gut garden are associated with chronic inflammatory disease, auto-immune conditions, obesity and psychological well-being.

Tending your Gut Garden

The gut-garden flora is dynamic and imbalance can be restored to this delicate ecosystem.  Much like tending a garden, discouraging weeds of environmental assaults that destroy the flora and fertilizing growth of healthy flora will allow your gut microbiota to flourish.

A diet of whole, organic foods vegetables and fruit provides the fiber required to fertilize your gut-garden.  This necessary fibre is soluble having both simple (fructooligosaccharides) and complex (inulin) features. Plant sources of these two types of fiber include:  blue agave extract, bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, jicama, leeks, chicory root, wild yam and whole grain wheat.

New bacteria microbes can be added to your garden with fermented foods that contain live bacteria such as cow-milk-based kefir and yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickled fruit and vegetables and fermented meat, fish and eggs.

Two types of supplements are available to complement your diet to both fertilize and add new microbe flora.  Pre-biotics containing both fructooligosaccharides and inulin can fertilize your garden.  Probiotics containing a wide variety of strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium common to human guts can add new microbes to your gut garden.

Tending your gut garden with both all-star fibre and fermented foods remain the most natural, effective and least expensive path to a thriving gut-garden microbiota.

Ole! Healthy Mexican Dining

Guacamole with raw veggies occupies your appetite and aThe word Fiesta written on a sandy beach, with sombrero, traditional serape blanket, starfish and maracas (studio shot - warm color and directional light are intentional).voids starchy, deep-fired appetizers like the chips and salsa.

Fajitas is your healthiest  entree choice.  Combine chicken, shrimp or lean meat with salsa, onions, peppers, black beans and guacamole on top of a big salad.

The salad encourages you to skip the tortillas unless they have gluten-free corn tortillas.  Skip the empty calories by skipping the cheese (cheese look-alike), sour cream and rice.

If you enjoy a Margarita, request a “skinny” one.  It’s made with lime juice, tequila and agave.  No agave? Request a splash of simple syrup and No, No on the sweet and sour.

Ole!

 

 

Stress-less Dining Out

Dining out is such a treat…a great social time with friends and so convenient when I just don’t want to cook.

restaurant, eating pizza and drinking red wine.

Yet, I am cautious about where to go and what to order.

Enjoying an evening out should not mean trading in health and post-meal belly comfort.

Today begins a series on healthy dining out in a variety of restaurants.  Let’s begin with some basics:

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