Diet, Nutrition and a Zen Lifestyle

Gary Saggu's blog on the holistic path

Why should you make fermented foods a part of your daily diet?

clock March 27, 2015 15:47 by author Gary Saggu

What is it?

Fermentation is the conversion of carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide(CO2) or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria etc. without the use of oxygen (anaerobically).  Wow, carbs and sugars into alcohol sounds really beneficial for the slow carb diet followers but there is more to that.  Fermentation is used to make wine, beer, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt and more.

 

Benefits of fermented foods?

  • Preservation - it is a natural way of preserving foods and increasing substantially the shelf life of some foods.
  • Fermentation is an all natural process provided no artificial ingredients are used.
  • Tasty and inexpensive - I love the taste of almost all fermented foods (even sauerkraut:) ).  Moreover, it is easy to ferment foods inexpensively.
  • Fermentation eliminates toxins from the food.
  • Improves digestion as the food is easier to digest and assimilate due to the fermentation process.
  • Friendly probiotics and bacteria in fermented foods that balance the bacteria in the intestines.
  • Many studies have shown that fermented soy, helps in preventing and reducing the effects of many diseases including cancer and heart ailments.  The macrobiotic diet is a big proponent of miso, made from fermenting soy beans, has many benefits including lowering high blood pressure.

Time for a serving of sauerkraut!

- Gary Saggu 

(My tech blog)



Interesting and questionable ingredients in common salt?

clock March 13, 2013 06:29 by author Gary Saggu

I was eating breakfast this morning and decided to indulge in a little salt.  As I was about to open the packet of salt, I decided to look at the ingredients.  I was quite surprised to see the list - Salt, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Dextrose and Potassium Iodide.

Salt - as expected Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Essential to human life but harmful to us in excess.

Sodium Silicoaluminate - an anti-caking agent used to prevent lumping in table salt.  I did some research on this and realized that there is speculation around it being linked to the progression of Alzheimer's disease.  This is also known as E554 and there is no way I can believe that it is good for the body.  My take is that anything with this synthetic of Silicon and Aluminium should be avoided.  IMHO, all E-ingredients should be avoided.

Dextrose - another mystery! According to the dictionary it is "The dextrorotatory form of glucose found naturally in animal and plant tissue and derived synthetically from starch.".  Personally, I do not want any form of sugar in my food especially in a sneaky way.  It is claimed by the salt makers that Dextrose keeps the Potassium Iodide stable (preventing its oxidation) but I am sure there are other ways to get iodine - naturally.  Also, definitely not good if you are on the slow carb diet (SCD)!

Potassium Iodide - (KI) This ingredient has a purpose - Iodine is a micro-nurient that enables proper functioning of the thyroid gland and used to prevent Goiter (swelling of the thyroid).  Some people argue the need of this in table salt as we need only a little bit of Iodine and it is present in sea vegetables, cranberries and strawberries (all organic I hope!).

Questionable ingredients in table salt - Gary Saggu

I have attached the photo for reference for all :-)! 

My take on this is to start eating natural unrefined sea salts from pure sources - like Celtic sea salt.  I will check in my local Whole foods and update this list.

- Gary Saggu

(My tech blog)



Healthy Oil Series - Olive oil and its benefits also virgin, extra-virgin or cold-pressed explained

clock March 9, 2013 16:33 by author Gary Saggu

I have come across so many articles about how great Olive Oil is and its many benefits.  So, I thought this necessitates a blog entry this Saturday evening as I was confused about some terms like virgin, extra-virgin and cold pressing.  

What is it?

Olive Oil is a natural juice(fat) of the Olive fruit that preserves the nutrients, taste and other aspects of the this fruit of this traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean basin.  Olive oil is a core component of the Mediterranean diet (more on that in the future) and allowed in SCD(slow carb diet).  This extract is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats and its anti-oxidant substances.  If confused about anti-oxidants read my blog post about another important anti-oxidant here.

How is it produced? Different types of Olive Oil?  (I was confused about the following part the most)

Olive Oil can be extracted from the Olive fruit by chemical or mechanical means.  Mechanical means are the best and involve less processing.  These terms do not guarantee the quality or standard of Olive Oil, however, a good health food store will generally carry the top 2 varieties.  The following is a list in descending quality and nutritional benefit  :-

  • Extra virgin - extracted of the first processing of just ripe olives, it is the least processed and it is certainly the most nutrient rich.  Involves no chemical treatment at all and has less than 1% acidity.  
  • Virgin - extracted from the second processing of olives whose ripeness may be more. Its acidity is around 1.5% or less.
  • Pure - has some filtering and refining and it usually lacks strong flavor.  This processed, blended variety has higher acidity than 1.5%
  • Extra light, Refined Olive Oil and Olive oil - have varying degrees of processing involved and maybe considerably less beneficial than the top 2 in this list.  Variable levels of acidity which may be high sometimes and not good for us.

Like I said before Olive oil in a heath food store should really be in the top 3 types(really 2) only. Since there are not many standards and governance around the above mentioned terms, take them with a grain of salt and experiment and really examine the contents to make sure the olive oil will be what the label says.

What is cold-pressing?

Olive oil is produced by extracting the juice from the Olive fruit by mashing them.  Olive presses were used and traditionally operated by hand.  This first pressing produced very little oil and was called "cold pressing".  All extra virgin Olive Oil should be cold pressed to preserve its nutritional benefits.  

What are its benefits?

  • IMHO, Olive oil is rich in beneficial anti-oxidants and may be an important cancer fighter.
  • May be an important blood pressure(BP) regulator.
  • May even help lower LDL (low density lipo-protein) cholestrol - the bad kind.
  • May help with obesity as well.
  • Supposed to help against osteoporosis.
  • Also, maybe effective against stones in kidney and bladder.

As part of the slow carb diet that I am on, I am consuming enough olive oil everyday - definitely more than 2 tablespoons of extra virgin cold pressed.  Coming up next Macadamia Oil. Happy Weekend!

 

- Gary Saggu



The Glycemic Index demystified...Part 1

clock March 5, 2013 20:12 by author Gary Saggu

I have come across the term Glycemic Index so many times and its about time this term gets explained.  In simple words, this is a measure of how quickly the blood sugar level rises after eating any type of food - ranging from meats to fruits.  The Glycemic Index or the GI of a food is a great comparative measure of what impact do different foods have on the blood sugar level.  The index is relative to the GI of Glucose which sits at a 100.

Therefore, a food with a low GI will release glucose more slowly in a prolonged manner compared to a hi GI food which causes a rapid almost abrupt rise in blood glucose levels.  Much research indicates that high GI foods may cause obesity.  I am personally experimenting with consuming low GI foods and willl update this blog with results.  I am in my third week of the slow carb diet.

Note that the GI does not measure the amount of carbs consumed and has no reference to it. Also, GI of a food having one value in many charts is misleading as its ripeness, types of same food, cooking methods, processing of the food, length of storage etc. changes its value.

More about the GI soon...Good Night!

- Gary Saggu



Naringin and its benefits

clock March 4, 2013 20:57 by author Gary Saggu

Naringin is the flavanoid in grapefruit that gives it that lovely bitter taste. Naringin exists in all citrus fruits but grapefruit seems to have it as its major flavanoid.  Btw, flavanoids are plant secondary metabolites - not directly involved in the growth of the plant but help in it.

Naringin may have a number of benefits :-

  • Antioxidant activity 
  • Lowering of the blood lipids. (lipids are mostly fats but may also be waxes, sterols etc)
  • Improvements in cognition
  • Some tests (on rats) have shown it to reduce the effects of diabetes.  In humans? IMHO, its beneficial.

Time for some grapefruit juice.

- Gary Saggu



BAT - Brown adipose tissue or brown fat a lesser evil?

clock March 3, 2013 14:59 by author Gary Saggu

BAT or brown adipose tissue is one of the two types of fat found in humans.  It is abundant in newborns and contains many smaller droplets of lipids with a lot of mitochondria with iron hence the brown color.  As infants grow up, this tissue becomes similar in appearance to white fat but there have been many articles and research  that relate BAT to skeletal muscle.

Functionally, BAT has a primary function - to generate body heat by burning fat.  That explains why BAT is present in hibernating mammals and also animals that do not shiver.  Based on reading research articles, BAT is a fat burning fat cell so it maybe good for us.  BAT growth maybe stimulated by cold and therapies like hydrotherapy as well as books like the "The 4 hour body" by Tim Ferriss talk about the benefits of cold water and showers. Refer to article here.

Therefore, BAT maybe a good fat and stimulating its growth could be a valuable aid in burning fat.  IMHO, cold showers in the morning, encouraged by yoga and other eastern philosophies did have  BAT research behind it Smile!                                 

- Gary Saggu



Guide to Cheat Day (while on the slow carb diet)

clock March 2, 2013 21:26 by author Gary Saggu

1.  First meal of the day needs to be slow carb diet conforming.  This is not a cheat meal.  Today mine was a mix of mung bean and green lentils with ghee and some spices. This was accompanied by a little guacamole and an egg white omelet with an organic egg.  The omlet was mixed with some onions.

2. About 2 hours later, I had some sliced grapefruit.  Grapefruit juice is ideal but I could not find it (without added hi-fructose sugar) so that became my source of Naringin.

 

3. PAGG is taken to reduce glucose sensitivity but I am not on PAGG. I would love to hear if how PAGG or AGG is working for people on cheat day.

 

4. Lots of citrus juices during or lemon juice with water.  I had a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice - heavenly.

 

5. Lots of going to the toilet.  I had the honor of going about 4 times already and it is only tea time.  

 

6. Regarding the contractions in between meals, I have not been good with those.  I did walk briskly all day today.  I think I might go to the gym to make up for no air squats or other stuff before my meal.  But my first binge was a healthy soy burger(with muenster cheese) with some greens. Hardly a binge but I am trying to wait for an Opera pastry waiting for me in the fridge.

 

More thoughts on cheat day from the mind of Gary Saggu later as time progresses...now high tea (with scones and clotted cream, not! - I feel full already!)

- Gary Saggu



Checking the ingredients of allowed foods on SCD

clock March 1, 2013 23:21 by author Gary Saggu

Interesting thing happened to me at my local Whole Foods.  I wanted to add some variety to my breakfast and innocently opted for smoked trout for protein early this week.  The trout was yummy and all natural etc. Last night I was at whole foods again loading up on lentils and other slow carb foods recommended for the SCD (in the 4 hour body).  This time I checked the ingredients of my smoked trout and turned out that it did have "all natural" cane sugar.  So I checked all the smoked trouts from different vendors and they all had some form of sugar in it.  Hidden sugar in apparently safe foods that one can eat while on the SCD is a big reason why this diet may not be providing the results expected.



Organic egg whites with 1 organic egg and smoked salmon

clock February 28, 2013 10:15 by author Gary Saggu

Lovely protein rich breakfast! SCD is on!



Cold water showers and drinking cold water benefits

clock February 27, 2013 10:30 by author Gary Saggu

How important are cold showers for health?  Cold water therapy and hydrotherapy (super popular in the 1800s) cite a number of benefits of cold water showers.  Benefits include improved blood circulation, mood, good for skin and hair and even a boost to testosterone levels.

 

I just also read that James Bond's character in the books by Ian Fleming started the shower warm and towards the end turned it to cold for a few minutes.  James Bond knows something!

 

As per yoga, cold showers have a huge anti-aging effect, mood uplifters and a bolstering of the immunity system of the body.  Bond must have been a yogi too!!?

 

What about drinking ice water?  Drinking cold water has been encouraged by the 4 hour body by Tim Ferriss.  Well, I think if ice cold water is drank by us, the body must have to heat it up to 37C(unless you are an extremely cold blooded reptile).  That must consume some calories and slowly it all adds up.

 

My take on this is that I will start making an effort to take colder showers gradually.  It is tough to do when it is sub-zero outside but the benefits sound logical enough for me to give it a try.  Drinking cold water is easy if there is an ice maker handy around you during the day, so I am game with that as well.  For who does not want to waste a few extra calories just by drinking ice cold water?



About Gary Saggu

Gary Saggu is a writer/blogger, technologist, martial artist and a thinker.  He is also a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, PADI certified diver and a Reiki healer.  He has travelled extensively across Asia, Latin America and Europe for many years. 

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