Immunity

Jumpstart Your New Year's Detox with this Superfood

Chlorella Pond: Courtesy of Sun Chlorella Company 

Chlorella Pond: Courtesy of Sun Chlorella Company 

With SO many superfoods being touted daily by the mainstream media, it's hard to keep up!

But have you paid attention to one of my favorites - Chlorella? 

Sure ... it's not as sexy as cacao, or as on-trend as kale, but this velvety green whole food has unreal nutritional superpowers that you need to know about.    

What is it exactly?

This superfood is a single-cell, water-grown algae (sounds gross, but don't be put off) that contains a nutrient vital to our health - Chlorophyll, not to be confused with Chloroform - a toxic substance that can seriously depress the respiratory system and heart.

Do you know that Chlorella is:

  • One of the most ancient forms of life - it has been in existence for nearly 2 billion years. (2)
  • Currently being investigating by NASA as a source of nutrition for its astronauts. (1)   
  • Used daily in Japan as a food supplement by 4 million people, to such an extent that the Japanese government has declared it a functional food of national interest. (2)
  • A superfood because it contains an almost complete range of vitamins (apart from vitamin D), all the main minerals, large amounts of iron and calcium, 19 amino acids and 50-60% of vegetable protein. (2)
  • Mighty, with 10 times more vitamin A than beef liver per gram, 40 times more protein per gram than soya, rice and wheat. (2)
  • The champion in the chlorophyll world, with the highest amount of chlorophyll of any plant in the world. In fact, that's how it got its name!
  • An algae that quadruples itself every twenty hours, growing faster than any food crop know to man (8)

According to *Paul Pitchford, M.S., author of the landmark nutrition book, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition (2002),  these are just some of Chlorella’s many amazing benefits: (3, 4, 5,6,7)

  • Detoxification of the body (heavy metals, PCB’s, some pesticides/herbicides).
  • Stimulation of the immune system (stimulates production of our immune ‘T’ cells).
  • Improvement in bowel and digestive function (causes the Lactobacilli bacteria in our stomachs to multiply at four times their normal rate and helps reduce constipation).
  • Promotion of longevity without desirable side-effects (Highest known food source of RNA).

How To Consume Chlorella?

It's a potent detoxifier, so it's best to introduce Chlorella very gradually into your diet to allow your body to adjust. A slow introduction helps avoid unwanted headaches, lethargy and brain fog - if you get these symptoms, reduce your dose. It's your body's way of telling you that you are detoxing too fast. 

You'll find Chlorella in tablet and powder form (1 teaspoon of powder is equal to 5 grams).
Tablets – Chew them up thoroughly at the end of your meal for optimal digestion.
Powder – Great in smoothies but be pre-warned - Chlorella has a ‘fishy’ taste so best to mix it with citrus flavors or chocolate to mask the taste.  

Dosing

3 grams daily is a generally recommended as a good maintenance dose.

For detoxification purpose, I recommend you consult a Certified Nutritionist as it's vital that all your detox pathways are ‘open’, with your bowels moving well and that you are well hydrated.  
Note: Since Chlorella is high in iron, it is not recommended for those with elevated iron blood levels.

What Do I Look For when Buying Chlorella?

Chlorella is ubiquitous – however some products have been known to contain substantial quantities of contaminants such as mercury and aluminum. Also be aware of chlorella products that contain fillers, binders and other preservatives; these only lessen its nutritional effectiveness and rob your wallet.  

Instead, look for companies that offer ‘organic, broken cell’ chlorella that improves digestion and assimilation.

*Paul Pitchford, M.S.,  recommends Prime Chlorella TM, and uses it clinically for its ‘unsurpassed purity and effectiveness’.  I have not used it in my practice so I cannot guarantee it authenticity.

References

(1) http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1813.html

(2) http://chlorellagrowthfactor.co.uk/research-on-cgf/

(3) Yamaguchi, Shimizu, et al.  "Immuno Modulation by Single Cellular Algae (Chlorella Pyrenoldosa) and Anti-tumor Activities for Tumor-Bearing Mice," a paper presented at the 3rd International Congress of Developmental and Comparative Immunology, Reims, France, July 1985.

(4) Yamada, Yoshio, et al.  "School Children's Growth and the Value of Chlorella." Nihon III shimpo, No. 2196, 1988.

(5) Frank, Dr. Benjamin, "Dr. Frank's No-Aging Diet." B of A Communications Co., Baton Rouge, LA (1981).

(6) "Changes induced by Chlorella on the Body Weight and incidence of Colds Among Naval Trainees." Midorf, 1, 1970.

(7) Yamagishi, Yoshio.  "The Treatment of Peptic Ulcers by Chlorella." Nihon III Shimpo. No 1997, 1962.

(8) David Wolfe, “Superfoods. The Foods And Medicine Of The Future”. Pg. 234

Your Essential Holiday Health Guide

For a Happy Holiday Season ...

For a Happy Holiday Season ...

Your Essential HOLIDAY HEALTH Guide
 
It’s that time of the year when we’re dragging ourselves to the finish line. The revolving door of holiday parties, shopping madness, entertaining and work deadlines can mean a lot of extra stress on our bodies! So here’s my Essential Holiday Health Guide to keep you rolling right through this crazy season in the merriest of spirits. 
 
Keep your Immune System Strong
If you’re not already taking a multi-strain probiotic (#beneficial bacteria) start now! Over 70% of our immunity is in our gut, which is where these beneficial organisms live.  Good olde holiday cheer, cookies, cakes, candy canes and general stress all deplete these immune-boosting organisms, making us vulnerable to seasonal viruses, so let’s bring in the reinforcements. I recommend: http://www.seroyal.com/hmf-intensive.html . With 25 billion multi-strain CFU’s (colony forming units) per capsule, it’s intended for quick replenishment of our beneficial gut flora and can also be continued for long-term health maintenance. 
 
On the food side, add in some fermented foods that contain these beneficial bacteria, such as kimchi (find it in the fridge section), dark chocolate (no issue there), miso (makes a tasty addition to soups), tempeh and sauerkraut (so delish on left-over turkey sandwiches - also buy from the fridge section).
 
Liver Support
It’s an extra hectic time for the ‘CEO’ of the body - our liver, which is working overtime to process all the deliciousness of the holiday season – sugar, alcohol (more sugar) fat and protein.  Give it some love in the form of a Milk Thistle herbal supplement. It’s an excellent source of silymarin, an antioxidant extracted from the plant leaves that may help repair liver cells that have been damaged by alcohol, fructose and environmental pollutants. Milk Thistle is widely available at any health food store.
 
If you prefer to rely on foods for liver support (love it), fill up your shopping cart with dark green leafy veggies, broccoli sprouts, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) avocados, garlic and onions, sea vegetables (clean, organic source only) and berries. If you plan to cook up a tasty roast or some warming stews over the holidays, the best liver-friendly meat choices would be grass-fed beef or lamb, or organic poultry.
 
Keep the Added Sugar under Wraps
We all tend to go overboard during the holiday season (#seriously) but if you have this formula in your back pocket, you’re be more likely to avoid the post holiday weight blues. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) daily sugar recommendation is 6 teaspoons or 24 grams, so start checking sugar amounts on those food labels and figure out how much sugar that one sinful chocolate cookie contains, before devouring the whole pack! It might be more than your whole day’s recommended amount, but at least you’ll know you need to stop there! 
 
Hydrate, Hydrate and Hydrate Some More
Of course we like to drink a little more around the holiday season so be smart and always follow the ‘One For One rule’ - one glass of water with each alcoholic drink. This helps to keep our kidneys happy and help prevent those unwanted UTI’s or thumping headaches that can really impact the joyfulness of the season. 
 
Always start your morning off with a glass of filtered water to flush your kidneys after their night of detoxing (put it by your bed before you go to sleep) and keep hydrating throughout the day. Not only will your skin be glowing, you’ll have more energy to squeeze out every festive drop of the season.
 
Prioritize Sleep
I know … not always easy but seriously, shut off that computer or late night TV show and get some healing sleep. You’ll be impressed with how much better you cope with the ups and downs of the season. As an addition bonus, you’ll be looking radiant when you arise like sleeping beauty from that deep, rejuvenating 9 hours of heavenly slumber – sleep is the gift that keeps on giving!
 
Treat yourself
… to a professional massage session and let those knots melt away. Sometimes we don’t even realize how tight our muscles are until we get that hammering headache, crick in the neck or sore back.  So don’t be sidelined this season; book that preventative massage session and float into this season of goodwill with nothing but good vibes.   
 
So, that’s a wrap from this festive BRIT BEET. Remember, I’m always happy to answer your health and wellness questions, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at joanna@thebritbeet.com or follow me@thebritbeet for health advice and chef inspired recipes.
 

Are You Listening To Your Gut?

Did you know that over 70% of your immunity is housed in YOUR GUT (aka your digestive system)?

Confused? Let me explain: Our gut is a 16-24ft long tubular set of muscles that run from the mouth to the anus, and, according to Elizabeth Lipski, Ph.D., author of 'Digestive Wellness', it's a self-running, self-healing miracle, sloughing off and renewing its lining every three to five days. 

Inside is a host of bacteria, comprising 99 percent of the DNA in our bodies! In fact, we have approximately 10 TIMES more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body. A healthy person's gut will contain mostly good bacteria (aka beneficial bacteria) and it's the good bacteria that we need in order to keep our immune systems running like well-oiled machines, #keeping us healthy and vital!  

But that's not all. Having a healthy gut, full of good bacteria doesn't just increase our immunity; it also helps: 

  • control our weight
  • makes us feel happy (smiley face)
  • help us sleep (love that!) 
  • prevent diabetes
  • combat certain cancers
  • lessen the likelihood of cardiovascular disease

Sounds really good, doesn't it! However, there's a catch!  

We can sabotage our gut friendly bacteria if we do any of the following: Get stressed out, eat a nutrient deficient diet, take medications, ingest chemicals, drink too much alcohol, pick-up a bacterial or microbial disease and a number of other factors that are too many to name! Of course, all of us are doing one or many of these self-sabotaging events on a regular basis!  So what we need to understand is that this tips the delicate balance of good bacteria and we end up with a proliferation of bad bacteria that takes up residence in our gut like bacterial squatters. The result:  A heap of long term negative health issues, most notably a significant drop in our overall immunity.  

But before you get panicked about 'nasties' wiggling around in your gut, I have happy news for you!  If we feed our gut with probiotic-rich foods, we can help tip the balance back to the good side. Why? Because probiotic foods are FULL of good bacteria. Actually, probiotic foods are the good bacteria in a jar.  It's that's simple. 

Which are these probiotic-rich foods, you ask? Really any food that is fermented or cultured because it contains Probiotics - aka the good bacteria! These foods have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures  for their health giving benefits - sauerkraut in Europe, kimchi in Asia and yoghurt in the form of a lassi in India: Fermented and cultured foods are gaining in popularity in north America and you need to get on that probiotic immunity train.  Not sure what foods are fermented and cultured?  I've got you covered.  Here's a shortlist of the more common ones at your local health food store:   

 

  • Chocolate (great start!)
  • Kefir (diary or coconut)
  • Kimchi (I love LIVE brand)
  • Kombacha (delicious tea-like concoction)
  • Miso (go for the lighter colors for a mellower flavour)
  • Olives (who doesn't love an olive or two)
  • Pickles (brine-cured, not vinegar)
  • Sauerkraut (favourite lunch addition)
  • Tempeh (more of an acquired taste)
  • Wheat grass juice 
  • Yoghurt (unsweetened, naturally!)

Always opt for glass bottles and certified organic, when possible. Most of these item you will find in the fridge section of your local health food store. 

One final BRIT BEET tip: Since the good bacteria do not stay permanently in our gut, we need to eat fermented and cultured foods regularly. So on that note, how often do I eat them? I indulge in them EVERYDAY and my immune system has never felt or been so strong.  I've even got my husband hooked... in fact he couldn't wait for me to finish this blog because it's time for our daily helping ... someone's been listening to their gut!

Back To School: 3 EASY Steps To Build-Up Immunity!

Some of us love getting back into the daily routine when September comes along but one thing is certain, the laid-back days days of summer are over and we are catapulted back to our hectic schedules; getting the kids out of the door, rushing to work or juggling full-on home schedules, speeding to after-school activities, making sure there is something somewhat healthy for dinner whilst trying to get the kids to do their homework. Forget about a little ‘me’ time – there just doesn’t seem to be a moment in the day! Frankly my dear, it's exhausting! 

One of the quickest ways to deplete our immune system is to be under this chronic level of stress, day after day.

We know this is not good - but what does it have to do with our immunity? Simply put, stress undermines our health, especially our gut and digestive health that is the ‘seat’ of our immunity.

As Hippocrates once said, “All disease starts in the gut.”

When we are stressed:

  • Our digestion is slower and less efficient
  • We don’t absorb the same amount of nutrients
  • Our metabolism slows down
  • Our gut can become irritated and inflamed leading to conditions such as ulcers, IBS and Colitis

Guess what ... when that inflammation in our gut spikes, it sends our cortisol levels shooting up, putting us right back into that ‘fight or flight’ mode and presto, we are back in that stress wheel all over again! 

So this year, how can we change what we put in our bodies to stop the cycle of stress and depleted immunity? 

I'm going to K.I.S.S. with my 3 EASY Steps:  

The ‘6’ Rule

Aim for a maximum of 6 teaspoons of ADDED sugar a day. Did you know that this is the World Health Organization’s recommendation (WHO) for daily sugar allowance for overall health prevention? Sugar feeds the bad bacteria, over-running the good bacteria in  our gut that is essential to our immune health. 

What is added sugar? Any table sugar, fructose or honey used as an ingredient in processing and preparing foods or beverages, eaten separately or added to a meal at the dining table. We all know the main culprits - soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream and pies but once you start reading labels, you may be rather surprised at how much sugar is hiding in your favorite food. 

BRIT BEET tip: To work out how much added sugar is in any product, take the sugar amount in grams and divide that amount by 4 to get the amount in teaspoons. For example:  

Nestea Iced Tea
Sugar amount: 28 grams
Serving Size: 20 fluid ounces
Total added sugar = 7 teaspoons

 

If you drank this, you would have consumed your whole day's recommended sugar amount plus an additional teaspoon and you haven't eaten anything yet! 

Eat Fermented Foods 

Fermented foods contain all that good bacteria we so desperately want hanging out in our gut, keeping our immune systems strong. So the next time you go to the store, if you haven't ventured into the world of fermented foods before, be brave and pick up a jar of:

  • Kimchi: (Yes, it stinks when you open it (you've been warned, but it tastes REALLY good!)
  • Sauerkraut (my husband and I have this for lunch every day with the kimchi -  it’s a delicious combo!)
  • Kefir:  Make the switch from regular yoghurt- the family will love it! (You’ll find it in the yoghurt aisle; look for Organic Kefir in glass bottles.)
  • Miso: Add a daily teaspoon to soups, salads and dressings.  Try my Immunity Salad Dressing for your 'hit' of daily miso! 

Aim to eat at least two serving of fermented food daily - it's really going help keep your good  bacteria level up and your immunity strengthened. 

Take Probiotic Supplements

Even with the best intentions we can still find ourselves stressed out and sucking back on sugar -  it's normal so don't beat yourself up. However, taking a daily probiotic can be the 'steady Eddy' in your immunity toolbox - think of it as 'immunity insurance'.   

Note: As a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, I have accessed to a wide range of probiotic supplements, so please ask me for my recommendation on brands, single/multi strain varieties, room stable vs. refrigerated options and the optimal times of days to take them.

So there you have it - 3 easy steps that we can put into daily practice to give our families the best chance to stay healthy and happy this coming year.

You’ve got this! 

What's All The Fuss About Bone Broth?

As the current media darling of youthful skin, you may have heard of of bone broth, with its legendary benefits; digestive health and immunity-boosting, joint support and weight loss, to name a few. 

According to Dr Kerryann Petrucci, New York Times best-selling author of 'The Bone Broth Diet', "When you eat bone broth, you’re really eating cooked collagen. This is a powerful way to restore collagen in your skin and make those wrinkles disappear. Sure, you could find a lot of products with "collagen" on the label, but dietary collagen is more potent — it mainlines collagen to your cells. Additionally, the gelatin derived from the collagen you get in bone broth heals your digestive tract which is a surefire way to prevent inflammation and aging skin."  

When I first came across this proclamation, it sounded incredibly promising however I still wanted to dig a little deeper. Since there are, as yet,  no scientific studies behind the nutritional wonders of bone broth, I turned to Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation, (author of the best selling cookbook, Nourishing Traditions) and Kaayla T. Daniels, PhD, CCN, co-authors of Nourishing Broths, a book touted as “an indispensable guide to the immense health benefits of bone broth.”

In their book, Fallon and Daniels attribute bone broth, replete with its collagen, marrow, bone and cartilage as, “the right stuff” for rebuilding and rejuvenating the body containing as it does, the key components of vitamins, minerals along with the amino acids glycine, proline and glutamine. They maintain that based on the principle, -‘like feeds like’-, “broth can ensure that our bones have strength and flexibility, our joints are cushioned and resilient and our skin a youthful plumpness.”

So I took a deeper dive into these key components to see what all the fuss was about:

COLLAGEN
Did you know that collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies?

It’s literally the ‘glue’ that keeps our body together. It’s how our skin gets its strength, elasticity and youthful firmness. As we age, we naturally produce less collagen, which is why we start to struggle with sagging, wrinkled skin and creaky, stiff joints.

According to Fallon and Daniels, when we cook up a batch of bone broth with animal bones, we are literally breaking down collagen into gelatin - you know, that wiggly jelly-like substance at the bottom of the roast chicken, when its’ been refrigerated that is so unappetizing!. However, it is this very same gelatin that contains all the amino acids (proteins) that makes it so beneficial for our bodies.

In addition to more youthful and firmer skin, they assert that this high amount of collagen supports:

  • Heart health through strong and supple arteries
  • Healthy corneas
  • Improved digestion through gut healing
  • Greater immunity

Hey, needless to say, I was already sold on the collagen benefits but I kept digging into the other “right stuff”…  marrow, bone and cartilage.

MARROW
Marrow, that creamy material found in the centre of bone, say Fallon and Daniels “is what we require, for healing and rejuvenation. It is the seedbed of blood and stem cells and is prized by native cultures all over the world as a sacred, energizing and regenerative food.” In Nourishing Broth, they cite evolutionary anthropologies Professor Leslie Aiello of University College London who states, “bone marrow is highly nutritious and contains many important elements for brain growth and development.” What we do know is that bone marrow is an essential part of the immune system, and that it contains a multitude of cells necessary for immune function and bone growth.

BONE
Bone broth, says Fallon and Daniels, “contains a variety of the bioavailable minerals which are easily assimilated and present in the appropriate ratios for bone building. Despite broth’s low calcium content, when it is combined with the high collagen content, this provides a cross-link important for whole bone strength and fracture resistance.”

It is important to stress that when we cook bone broth at home, we start by adding in two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the cooking water. We do this to help dissolve the bones, making the minerals more bioavailable. Remember, the amount of minerals in each batch of bone broth will vary depending on the animal bones we are using, where the animals were raised, the length of cooking time and the amount of bones used for one batch etc.  It's NOT an exact science.  

CARTILAGE
Cartilage, often described as gristle, has many vital roles – shock absorber, friction reducer and most importantly a framework for our bones. It derives its nutrients from synovial fluid and water, the latter being the chief component of cartilage (65-85%). Thus cartilage health is highly dependent on adequate water intake and exercise. According to Fallon and Daniels, "Once it is undernourished, cartilage that was once resilient and plump becomes worn down, dried out, cracked, stiff and inflamed. Then the bones that the cartilage was designed to protect start rubbing each other the wrong way, causing bone spurs, hardening, inflammation and pain. Drinking bone broth, which of course includes water, plus amino acids, collagen and other components, gives our bodies what it needs to manufacture healthy cartilage." They go on to say, "that providing the right constituents of cartilage – glycine, proline, glutamine, proteoglycans and other nutrients found in cartilage molecules, it makes it easier to prevent cartilage damage to begin with.”

So having looked at the “right stuff" in bone broth and the science behind its nutritious benefits, I decided to give it a go for myself. 

I started simmering up large batches of bone broth, using various concoctions of organic chicken bones or grass fed beef bones and an assortment of organic vegetables.

And this is what I can tell you from my own personal observations over three months:

  • I have never grown my nails this long or hard.
  • Hair strands are NOT all over my coat when I go to put it on
  • I’ve not had a cold or been sick in any way.
  • My digestion and elimination is in tune (if you know what I mean!)
  • I’m pushing hard in my exercises without the same amount of stiffness in my joints.
  • I've notching my belt tighter (could be the weight bearing exercises too)
  • And the other day I was given a big compliment on the glowing state of my skin!

Scientific studies or not, I get what the fuss is all about. Now excuse me, it’s time for my cup of bone broth.