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    News — detoxify

    Supercharge Your Brain Function with these 4 Powerful Plant Foods

     

    We know that our diets play a significant role in our overall health and wellbeing, but did you know that there is also a powerful link that exists between the food we eat and our brain health? 

    Recent research in the last decade has shed light on the incredible benefits of certain foods that are rich in plant phytochemicals on aspects of brain function, for example sharpness, mood, memory and critical thinking.

    Because oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation are major risk factors for cognitive decline, nutrient-dense, brain-supporting plant compounds play an important role in helping to supercharge our brain function and rewire it into high performance mode. Eating a diet rich in nourishing brain foods also helps to eliminate brain fog, protect against brain diseases and balance out neurotransmitters (which influences other parts of our health as well).

    So if you’re looking for a mood-boost, better focus, or a little extra sharpness, try reaching for these snacks instead…

    Blueberries

    Blueberries and other berries like strawberries, raspberries and goji berries are jam-packed with protective antioxidants and flavonoids. A 2010 randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled trial found that when older adults consumed 1 cup of blueberries per day they experienced significant improvements in certain aspects of cognition, for example long-term memory. A few years later, a study found cognitive performance improvements across all measures in children, even just a few hours after consuming a blueberry meal.

    Walnuts

    Walnuts are bursting with ALA, the omega 3 fatty acid and super-antioxidant that works to scavenge free-radicals and repair and protect cell membranes in the brain. A study among college students in 2011 revealed that regular consumption of walnuts had a significant improvement on inference capacity, or critical thinking.

    Grapes

    Grapes are an amazing source of vitamins K and C (important nutrients for tissue health), resveratrol (a powerful anti-inflammatory plant compound) and antioxidants. In fact, the majority of antioxidants in grapes are actually found in the skin and seeds of the grape. Research has found that the consumption of grapes can influence performance across a wide range of tasks, in particular quicker response times.

    Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)

    A small bowl of green veggies may not be the most sought-after snack, but benefits to brain performance could definitely be worth it…According to one recent study, consumers of cruciferous vegetables were found to perform better in several cognitive tests than non-consumers. Cruciferous veggies as well as other dark green leafy vegetables are natural superstars in the nutrition department because they’re literally bursting with healthy nutrients and vitamins. In fact, ½ a cup of kale has 50 times more lutein than an egg (lutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid that has been found to have an incredibly powerful role in neutralizing free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and lowering inflammation). Whenever we get the chance, we pack our meals with some brain-boosting green veggies, making them the perfect work lunch to support your brain for a productive and supercharged work afternoon J

    References:

    Lamport DJ, Lawton CL, Merat N, Jamson H, Myrissa K, Hofman D, Chadwick HK, Quadt F, Wightman JD, Dye L. Concord grape juice, cognitive function, and driving performance: a 12-wk, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial in mothers of preteen children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):775-83. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.114553. Epub 2016 Feb 10. PMID: 26864371.
    Miller MG, Hamilton DA, Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B. Dietary blueberry improves cognition among older adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Apr;57(3):1169-1180. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1400-8. Epub 2017 Mar 10. PMID: 28283823.
    Pribis P, Bailey RN, Russell AA, Kilsby MA, Hernandez M, Craig WJ, Grajales T, Shavlik DJ, Sabatè J. Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults. Br J Nutr. 2012 May;107(9):1393-401. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511004302. Epub 2011 Sep 19. PMID: 21923981.
    Whyte AR, Schafer G, Williams CM. Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Sep;55(6):2151-62. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-1029-4. Epub 2015 Oct 5. PMID: 26437830.

    Eating Seasonally: Spring

    It’s September, which means spring and we can certainly feel the change in climate in sunny Queensland already! After a couple of months of warm, cosy winter stews and soups we’re ready to dive into some of our favourite lighter dishes again.

    Spring means warmer weather, leaves on the trees, flowering plants, and the appearance of fresh, light spring veggies. Spring is all about detoxifying foods that are refreshing and regenerating. They’re light and fresh, like crisp asparagus (a classic spring veggie), beets and green leafy veggies.

    We know that certain fruits and vegetables flourish at certain times of the year, and it’s a good idea to buy seasonal produce however because grocery stores stock just about everything all year round, it’s sometimes easy to forget what’s in season and what’s not. 

    A good tip is to take a walk around your local farmer’s market and see what kinds of produce are available – these will usually be the ones that are in season.

    There are many benefits to eating seasonally.  The food is at its freshest, tastes the best, is best for you, is more sustainable, and is usually cheaper. It also allows us to get back to the roots of local and sustainable eating, by supporting local businesses and our local community as a whole.  

    Seasonal fruits and veggies that have been allowed to fully ripen on the plant and picked at the peak of freshness are better quality and higher in nutrition compared to produce that is picked unripe and then transported to different areas or countries.

    Foods that are harvested in your local area at a certain time are also dealing with the same environmental factors that you are. For example, summer fruits and veggies are often higher in water content (e.g. tomatoes or watermelons), which makes sense given that during summer we are often hot and sweaty and need more hydration from our diet.

    Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene which research has shown to be helpful in protecting our skin against the sun’s rays…so it does make sense why tomatoes thrive in warmer weather. Eating local sustainable produce allows for maximum nutrition that is tailored to your local environment.

    Eating foods that are in season gives you the opportunity to appreciate the foods that are available, and allows for more variety in your diet as seasonal foods are constantly shifting – a wonderful cycle that allows you to experience each food.

    We’ve been cooking dishes that feature lots of Spring seasonal veggies the past few weeks, like our one-pot Greek Chicken with Zucchini and Potatoes, and our Roast Fennel with Chickpea Skordalia, Grilled Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. 

    What veggies are in season this spring? Print out our handy list of spring seasonal veggies and hang it on your fridge!

     

    How to Boost the Absorption of Curcumin + Immune-Boosting Turmeric Shot Recipe!

     

    Last week we posted an article on turmeric and the healing properties that are associated with its active ingredient, curcumin. We focussed particularly on the potential role of dietary turmeric in cancer prevention (if you haven’t read it yet, click here to be taken to the article). We mentioned briefly at the end of the article that using black pepper with turmeric can enhance the bioavailability of the curcumin, and we wanted to delve into that more here.

    We know that turmeric has been used extensively in Indian and other South Asian cuisines, and has often formed part of a “curry powder blend” alongside other spices and black pepper. These spices are then typically combined with onions and garlic, some sort of protein and vegetables, and a fat such as coconut milk.

    Well, it seems that this traditional style of cooking and ingredient combining is actually beneficial for our health and can help with the absorption of the curcumin compound present in turmeric.

    There is a particular plant in South Asia that was traditionally used to treat asthma, whereby the leaves of the plant were steeped with black peppercorns before using them to make tea. In 1928 scientists investigated this ritual and discovered that adding black pepper actually increased the anti-asthmatic properties of the plants leaves. It was important to note that black pepper didn’t work alone, more so it was the combination of the pepper with the leaves.

    Approximately 5% of black pepper consists of a compound called piperine, which is actually the cause of the strong pungent flavour of pepper. Usually, the liver banishes foreign substances by making them water soluble so that they can be excreted easily. The piperine present in black pepper actually inhibits that process, instead contributing to the increase in absorption of the substance.

    An investigation by scientists in 1998 revealed that taking ¼ tsp of black pepper with curcumin boosted the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%, and even just a tiny pinch of pepper significantly boosted levels.

    Further findings in the area of curcumin bioavailability have showed that fat can also help to boost absorption. Consuming curcumin as a whole food (fresh as turmeric root or dried and powdered) naturally enhances the bioavailability of curcumin due to the natural oils found in the turmeric. Fat from the turmeric oil helps the curcumin to be directly absorbed into the blood stream and into the lymphatic system.

    However, when curcumin is extracted from turmeric (for example to make supplement capsules), it loses its oils and bioavailability. For this reason, a healthy fat (e.g. some whole nuts or seeds) alongside a curcumin supplement may help to improve the absorption rate.

    If you like to consume your curcumin fresh in the form of turmeric root, then rejoice because turmeric root has all the oils necessary for absorption. Simply combine the turmeric with some black pepper (like in this wellness shot recipe below) and you will truly be harnessing the potential of this amazing golden spice pigment.

    In the Wholesomeness kitchen we love to maximise nutrition, that’s why we often add turmeric and a tiny pinch of black pepper to our vegan protein blends.

     

    Responsible health advice: There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition or the healing properties of food.  If you are unwell please seek professional advice.

    References:
    Gupta, P. K. Prajapati. A clinical review of different formulations of Vasa (Adhatoda vasica) on Tamaka Shwasa (asthma). Ayu. 2010 31(4):520 - 524.
    Shoba, D. Joy, T. Joseph, M. Majeed, R. Rajendran, P. S. Srinivas. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 64(4):353 - 356.
    Anand, A. B. Kunnumakkara, R. A. Newman, B. B. Aggarwal. Bioavailability of curcumin: Problems and promises. Mol. Pharm. 2007 4(6):807 - 818.

     

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma

    5 Easy and Versatile Veggies to Grow in Your Own Home Garden

     

    Crisp, sweet carrots, snapping peas out of their shells, pulling firm, dark red beets out of the garden…growing your own veggies is not only fun and relaxing, but it’s also an amazing way to diversify and supercharge your diet with wholesome nutrition, stay active and get some vitamin D. No wonder why gardening is considered a natural stress reliever!

    Although the thought of growing your own veggies can be overwhelming, there are some veggies that are super easy to grow, as well as being productive as crops, versatile to use, healthy to eat and great tasting! Plus, you’re more likely to eat more vegetables if they are easily accessible to you, and it’s really fun to share and cook with healthy food that has been nurtured by your own efforts! 

    Here are 5 top picks for the best veggies to grow at home:

    1. LETTUCE – Lettuce is super easy to grow (and actually quite hard to get rid of!), high in nutrients, low in calories and really hydrating, due to its high water content. Lettuce is one of those foods that you don’t notice in a dish until it’s not there, like in an egg and lettuce sandwich, or shredded lettuce in tacos. Lettuce seems to just make a dish 10 times better.

    2. CARROTS – Carrots have a huge temperature growing range which means they can be grown in many climates all year round. They’re also really productive and can be producing for months after you plant them. Being quite a dense vegetable, even just a few standard size ones or small varieties are enough to feed the whole family for dinner. There’s a reason why people promote carrots for better eye sight – carrots contain the antioxidants lutein and beta carotene which are known for their eye health benefits!

    3. CABBAGE – Cabbages are such a diverse veggie, they can be preserved and pickled to have in salads or sandwiches, made into slaw, or added into stir-fries for a crunchy element. They’re also really good for you. A study conducted in Western Australia with 900 women over the age of 70 found that eating three or more portions of veggies per day (a combination of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts) lowered the participants risk of heart disease and stroke. Mini cabbages are quick to grow from seed and harvest and can go a long way in a delicious preserve such as sauerkraut.

    4. BEETS – A known “superfood”, beets are packed with vitamins and minerals, high in fibre, low in fat and low in calories. They’re also super easy to grow and you can even eat the tops of the beets – the beet leaves, which are just a regular leafy vegetable. This makes them a really versatile and productive option to grow in your home garden.

    5. ONIONS – There have been heaps of scientific studies looking into the health benefits of onions, with findings showing benefits with regulating blood sugar, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut, boosting the immune system and the list goes on! Onions are a pretty hearty crop to grow, with varieties to suit all climates. If you’re short on space, try growing some spring onions, which can grow just about anywhere.

    TOP TIP: No space for a home garden? Regrow the spring onions you buy from the supermarket by placing the white stems in a glass of water. Place the glass near a sunny window and wait for the magic to happen!

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma

    The Importance of Eating Antioxidants with Every Meal

     

     

    Firstly, what are antioxidants?

    Antioxidants are compounds found in certain foods that help to neutralise the free radicals (damaging molecules produced through the body’s process of oxidation) in your blood. In short, they help to protect our cells and DNA from damage that can lead to disease. That’s why it’s really important that we take in more antioxidants than we use up. In fact, the very act of eating increases oxidative stress, which is the attack on your cells from free radicals.

    Antioxidants originate from the plant kingdom, due to the thousands of antioxidant compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Ideally, fresh produce should be sneaking its way into every meal that we eat. But, we know that that’s not always possible – takeaway nights, dining out, dinner at a friend’s house…sometimes it’s a little hard to eat healthy all the time.

    A few interesting studies have shed a light on antioxidants and their ability to counteract the negative oxidative effects of an “unhealthy” meal e.g. a meal that is high in fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates, and low in whole foods.

    A 2010 review found that consuming fruits which are high in phenolic phytonutrients (health-promoting compounds) with an unhealthy meal (high fat, pro-inflammatory, low in nutrients) increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood and helps to counterbalance some of the negative effects of the meal.

    In another interesting study, participants were given standard breakfast items which caused a high increase in oxidized cholesterol in their blood stream 6 hours after the meal. However, adding a cup of antioxidant-rich strawberries to the meal kept the meal from contributing to further oxidation, and allowed them to eat lunch at a baseline oxidation level.

    A similar study found that eating a bunch of grapes with a meal resulted in a rise in blood antioxidant levels, leaving the body in a positive antioxidant balance for a few hours. The same results were found with blueberries.

    These findings highlight the importance of eating antioxidants with every meal, and if you can’t avoid an unhealthy meal, adding a side of berries or grapes to your plate may be beneficial in helping to maintain oxidative balance.

    A 2004 study found that out of all fruits, berries (e.g. strawberries, blueberries) were the best source of polyphenol antioxidants.

    Berries are on the dirty dozen, so organic berries are best. Keeping frozen berries on hand is also a great idea, and actually, frozen berries often have more antioxidants and other nutrients because they’re frozen shortly after picking. Essentially, frozen produce is often even fresher than what we call “fresh produce”!

     

     

     

    References:
    Burton-Freeman B, Linares A, Hyson D, Kappagoda T. Strawberry modulates LDL oxidation and postprandial lipemia in response to high-fat meal in overweight hyperlipidemic men and women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010;29(1):46-54. doi:10.1080/07315724.2010.10719816
    Burton-Freeman B. Postprandial metabolic events and fruit-derived phenolics: a review of the science. Br J Nutr. 2010;104 Suppl 3:S1-S14. doi:10.1017/S0007114510003909
    Ursini F, Zamburlini A, Cazzolato G, Maiorino M, Bon GB, Sevanian A. Postprandial plasma lipid hydroperoxides: a possible link between diet and atherosclerosis. Free Radic Biol Med. 1998;25(2):250-252. doi:10.1016/s0891-5849(98)00044-6

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma