By Andrea Cullen
Feb 1st 2014
So it is an absolute age since I have posted on word press.
The truth be told I have been taking leaps of faith for work and am currently relocated from Ireland to Reno, Nevada, temporarily to take a time out for further writing and research while also managing clients from home online. Exciting times and I will keep you all posted.
Its is amazing to have time out, for myself personally as well as professionally. This is giving me the time to explore the locality, meet new friends, and to be immersed in how things work here related to food, shops, local produce, organic and ethical foods, the people, lifestyle and the general feel and energy of the place.
In summary life here is fast, work is fast, training is fast and food is fast….and amongst this I am taking things slow.
Here are some photo highlights and I discuss my food, diet and health explorations and observations in a blog that will be posted later in the week.
I am also feeling generous today so here is my latest article for clients on my health transformation programme. The article discusses fats for health and body composition and if you can apply the guidance you are on the right track for health making some very important food choices for long-term health, wellness, and sports performance.
Fat Rules for Optimal Health and Body Composition
Following a low-fat diet? If you are following a low-fat diet then you are stuck in the dark ages of nutrition for weight loss and ideal body composition…. never mind health.
Why? A low-fat diet may, in the long-term, hinder weight loss and fat loss, upset the delicate balance of your hormones, dry out your skin, impede the absorption of essential fat soluble nutrients, negatively impact energy and if you are an athlete will harm training performance and cellular recovery. A diet deficient in the essential fats can adversely affect many aspects of your health from joint to skin, bone, and hair health; hydration to Vitamins A, D and E levels; cognitive function and mood to fertility and the immune system; satiety to food cravings and the list runs on and on. Increasing your intake of foods naturally rich in healthy fats is one of the most important steps that you can take to support health, in addition to paying attention to hydration.
Pay close attention to the following recommendations to reduce your intake of the fats that are not healthful in your diet:
1. Go through your fridge and trash all mayonnaise or salad dressings made from or containing sunflower, soya bean, safflower, canola oils or other processed, hydrogenated or heat-treated oils. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup and artificial additives as ingredients; trash these also.
2. Go through your cupboards and trash sunflower oil, maize oil, canola oil, or processed frying oils.
3. Eliminate all foods that contain the words partially or hydrogenated fats. There are no safe levels of trans fats. That is why Canada and the U.S. are forcing companies to list the trans fat content. Unfortunately, the U.S. law is too lax regarding the interpretation of the content of trans fats and so all processed foods containing inferior fats as ingredients must be considered suspect.
4. Stop buying foods that contain oils made from corn, safflower, peanut, soya, maize, corn.
5. When omega-6 rich oils such as sunflower or sesame are purchased be sure to purchase cold pressed and organic oils that are stored in dark coloured glass containers and not the refined chemically tampered versions stored in clear plastic. Use these delicate cold pressed oils in moderation, cold; avoid heat exposure unless at low temperatures for short periods of time. Store in the refrigerator and if they smell off or rancid then dispose of them.
6. Read the labels on salad dressings and mayonnaise eaten out in restaurants or purchased in the stores. As a rule of thumb offenders as listed above should be avoided and other listed ingredients in salad dressings or mayonnaise should be vinegars, herbs or spices (and eggs) only. Truly healthy salad dressing and mayonnaise should contain only pure and natural ingredients and preferably be organic.
7. Pastries, bakery products, batter, crusting and deep fried foods are a significant source of inferior quality fats. Unless you know what fats went into the food you are eating; be cautious. If you desire some sweet treats then home baking using pure oils such as grass-fed organic butter, coconut oil, olive oil etc. and superior quality flours (e.g. buckwheat, gluten free oat, millet, etc.) is preferable. When I home-bake for celebration occasions I will always aim to amend the recipe to make it healthier.
8. Soya, corn and canola oil can sneak into the most unlikely of foods, for example in addition to the usual suspects such as dressings, mayonnaise, and spreads, these oils may be found in baking, snacks, relish, hummus and other dips, pasta sauces, ketchup and salsa dips, fried foods, crackers and chips, even dried herbs! READ the label!
Remember that the only foods you have full control over are those prepared in the home. So it pays you well to do all you can to make up for the fact that these unwanted fats may sneak into foods eaten or prepared away from the home. “Eat natural foods and home-cook from scratch”.
Most people are chronically deficient in omega 3 fats; and of late many omit healthful saturated fats from the diet resulting in deficiency of important saturated fats and associated fat soluble nutrients. This furthers exacerbates an excess of omega 6 and processed fats in the body cell membranes.
If you are interested in having your cellular or plasma fats assessed for their omega 3, 6, 9 and saturated fat content and balance (relative ratios) then please email the clinic for further information and to set up a test email@example.com.
To improve your balance of omega 3: omega 6 fats and optimize omega 9 and saturated fat intake apply the following recommendations:
1. Eat only grass-fed (pastured) beef and lamb.
This is more manageable in some countries (e.g. Ireland and New Zealand) than others such as the USA. Do your very best. Eating more expensive cuts less often is a far better health trade when budget and supply limits you. Explore your local food supply options and stores that may supply organic pastured cuts such as Trader Joe’s, Whole-Foods, Costco, and local farm to market or online farm to home initiatives in the USA.
In Ireland most butchers supply their own meats and many stores such as Superquinn and SuperValue provide local and organic options. In the UK local markets or online suppliers are also available. You are looking for pasture fed and grass finished animals. Buying in bulk and freezing, when you find a good price with a reputable supplier may help save you time and money. Cooking in bulk and slicing and freezing also makes good use of your limited food prep time. See here for a nice article explaining the importance of choosing better quality meats and the difference this makes to your health: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-differences-between-grass-fed-beef-and-grain-fed-beef/#axzz2rtYlxGqD
2. Choose poultry meats that are organic and free-range as these are higher in omega 3 and reduced in other undesirable chemicals. Chicken is a meat that I am highly suspicious about unless it is organic and free-range/ roaming.
3. Eat free range and organic cage-free / free-roaming eggs or Omega 3 fed eggs. In countries such as Ireland and the UK it is relatively easy to find local farms selling eggs from happy scavenging free running hens. In the USA the standards are complex and misleading. See Appendix 1 below for a more detailed synopsis of egg-carton labels http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html
An online search for local farm to home or farmers markets is a great place to start OR consider keeping your own hens http://keeping-chickens.me.uk/.
In the USA you can find farmers supplying fresh eggs easily on the Weston A. Price foundation website: www.westonprice.org, the Price Pottenger Foundation: http://ppnf.org/resources/links/, and also http://www.eatwild.com/index.html or http://www.localharvest.org/organic-farms/
4. Eat more omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, haddock, herring and arctic char. Your goal is at least twice a week; at least! This is a minimum goal; more often is better. As best you can limit farmed fish (that is not organically raised). Smaller fish such as mackerel are often naturally caught wild.
Don’t forget that to save you money mackerel, anchovies, herring, wild Atlantic, wild red and wild Alaskan salmon are also available canned. It is preferable if you can find cans that are lined BPA-free; but this can be quite a challenge. Here is a helpful article http://bpafreecannedfood.wordpress.com/bpa-free-canned-food-brands/
5. Buy wild Alaskan or wild Atlantic salmon as your first preference for salmon, followed by organically farmed at sea salmon. Organically farmed salmon from inland farms is better than plain farmed salmon but not as good as wild or farmed at sea salmon. Non-organically farmed salmon is not as rich in omega-3 fat or antioxidants and contains higher amounts of toxins and chemical additives.
If you can’t always manage to purchase wild or grass-fed/ organic meats, poultry and fish then look for meats with enriched omega-3 fatty acid content as provided by an omega-3 fortified diet.
6. Eat more wild meats: elk, buffalo, bison, moose, rabbit, kangaroo, venison, ostrich, boar, etc. as these meats are naturally leaner and more abundant in omega 3 fats due to their natural diets and greater activity levels. These meats are often found on special in stores like Costco (USA) and Lidl/ Aldi (Ireland) as well as through specialist stores, delicatessen’s, farmers markets, and online stores.
7. Add organic coconut oil to your daily regimen. Use as cooking oil, butter substitute, added to baking or in make home-made nut butters. Coconut oil may also be added to coffee to make bullet proof coffee.
8. Put pure natural organic butter from grass-fed/ pastured cows back in your fridge. Farmers markets sell wonderful creamy locally produced butters. Good butter should be a rich yellow.
9. Add organ meats and bone-marrow fats to your diet several times a week. Bone marrow and organ meats contain fats that are incredibly important for health and deserve a prized place in the diet. (Furthermore they provide numerous other nutrients important for health). For too long they have been condemned as bad for health and this is absolutely not true. See Marks Daily Apple for an excellent article http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bone-marrow-recipe/ and also Westen A Price Foundation website http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/bone-marrow.
10. Take fish oil daily from a reputable high quality, pollution-free brand. I most often recommend doses higher than labelled on the bottle depending on a client’s health requirements. As a base I would recommend 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoon’s fish oil and 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons cod liver oil. Capsules are an option although they are not always sufficiently high in strength without multiple dosing.
Charles Poliquin recommends a dose based on the following formula, which I find clinically in practice works well: One to one-and-a-half grams of fish oil per percentage point of body fat a day (e.g. if you have 20 percent body fat you should take a minimum of 20 grams of fish oil). The fatter you are, the more likely you are deficient in omega-3′s; replenishing a deficiency supports body fat loss, reduces obesity associated inflammation, reduces raised cholesterol and triglycerides and improves insulin sensitivity.
Recommended brands that I have used in practice include Nordic Naturals complete range, Garden of Life Icelandic Cod liver oil, Carlson, Eskimo 3, Paradox, Designs for health, Barlean’s, and Biotics Research. See here for an excellent article by Chris Kresser; I have not yet trialled his recommended brands: http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide.
11. Use high quality fridge-line cold pressed oils made from healthful omega 3 oils frequently in your diet in rotation with other omega-3 rich foods; e.g. flax and hemp oils or mixed cold pressed oil blends containing these omega 3 oils such as those made by Barlean’s and Omega Nutrition. Use these oils COLD in your salad dressing, juices, smoothies, or as a butter alternative. These oils are not for cooking with or heating and must be stored and treated with care! Oils should smell sweet and in no way off or rank; brand quality is important.
12. Eat more green leafy vegetables; the deeper the green then the better. Exceptional choices include the deeper green lettuces, leaves and herbs; chard, Purslane, broccoli, tarragon, kale, courgettes, French beans, bok choy, radish; and the deep coloured cabbages.
13. Take soaked flax seeds most days. Simply soak 2 tablespoons of flax seeds covered by approx. 1-inch of water in a small tumbler or shot glass overnight in the fridge. Add to smoothies, recovery protein shakes, omelette, cooked grains, and grain-free pancakes or take as is. Store unsoaked flaxseed in the fridge in a vacuum or resealable container (preferably glass). Flax seeds may be golden or brown their colour makes little significance to their omega-3 content.
14. Increase your nuts and seeds:
Add soaked or soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds to your diet most days. Vary your options between the different nuts and seeds. Soaking or sprouting is recommended to improve digestibility. This does not mean that ready to eat raw nuts and seeds aren’t good; they are. However if you can dedicate some time to soaking or sprouting or source nuts and seeds as sprouted dehydrated varieties then this is more healthful. The key is to build strategies into your daily routine.
Nuts and seed shenanigans:
How much? 2 tblsp seeds approx. and 1-2 tblsp nuts (approx. 6-10 nuts or 2 tsp nut butters daily); if you are on a lower in carbohydrate diet then larger portions are permitted.
Which ones? Shoot for the omega-3 dense options:
Seeds: pumpkin, flax/ linseed, shelled hemp seeds, chia seeds, Salba seeds or their sprouted seeds (e.g. Granovita NutraSprout powder)
Nuts: pistachio, walnuts, macadamia, pecans, (note that cashew nuts or peanuts are not included here!). Almonds and brazil nuts are also healthy although not as rich on omega 3
Nut butters: organic walnut, almond, brazil, macadamia or pecan nut butters; consider making your own nut and seed butter (ground nuts and seeds, coconut oil and sea salt)
Sprouted seeds and nuts: sprouted pumpkin, sprouted sunflower seeds and sprouted flax seeds or their nut butter and sprouted nuts or their sprouted nut butters are powerhouses of nutrition with improved digestibility. Buy online (e.g. http://bluemountainorganics.com/by-brand/better-than-roasted/sprouted-nut-butters ), in specialist stores, or even better; make your own!
When buying nuts or seeds choose raw, unsalted and unroasted varieties; sprouted and dehydrated nuts and seeds are also available and taste delicious! E.g. http://www.goraw.com/c/23/sprouts. These are also available online in virtual grocery stores such as iherb or goodness direct.
Store whole or ground seeds in the fridge and nuts in the fridge or the freezer; store in sealable containers to prevent them from becoming mouldy or rancid.
Soak nuts and seeds overnight in salted water to soften them so they are digestible; sprouting also improves the nutrient density of the nuts and seeds.
To soak seeds simply cover them in salted water in a glass sealable jar overnight; drain the following morning and enjoy fresh or store in the fridge in a sealable container for later consumption. I often gently oven-roast these at a low temperature to dry them through before storing or eating. A dehydrator is an excellent investment for this purpose. See here for a helpful article. http://ournourishingroots.com/real-food-101-how-to-soak-sprout-and-dehydrate-nuts-beans-and-seeds/
Save money: Soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds may be blended into home-made nut or seed butters. This will save you a considerable amount of money, making your time and efforts worthwhile. Store nut and seed butters in the fridge in sealable glass containers.
15. Increase healthful omega-9 foods:
Cold pressed organic olive oil
Get inventive with these foods to avoid boredom;.Use avocado in dips and guacamoles; buy specialist flavoured olive oils from gourmet stores; or make your own by adding for example citrus, sprigs of fresh herbs, chili etc. to the bottle and letting the flavours infuse into the oil.
16. Embrace the benefits of coconut in cooking and desserts or as it is:
Fresh coconut flesh and juice
- Coconut oil/ coconut butter
Organic coconut milk – choose BPA free cans if possible http://www.marksdailyapple.com/are-your-canned-foods-safe-to-eat-a-bpa-free-buying-guide/#axzz2s27hOV6x
Thank you for reading my blog; the following appendices provide further information and support.
If you are interested in having your cellular or plasma fats assessed for their omega 3, 6, 9 and saturated fat content and balance (relative ratios) then please email the clinic for further information and to set up a test on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources and links: a head start on some useful ones
Information and education:
Sustainable, organic healthy options and advice:
Online Alaskan salmon:
Even amazon sells wild Alaskan salmon if you have a good search around for the better brands: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dhpc&field-keywords=wild+canned+alaskan+salmon
Iherb also stock wild Alaskan salmon: http://uk.iherb.com/search?kw=alaskan+canned+salmon&sug=salmon&x=0&y=0#cid=2992&p=1
Goodness direct in the UK stock Fish4ever brand of sustainably caught fish. http://www.goodnessdirect.co.uk/cgi-local/frameset/script/search.html?query=fish%204%20ever
Buy with a conscience…..
Egg Carton Labels
A brief guide to labels and animal welfare by The Humane Society of the United States
The vast number of consumer labels affixed to egg cartons can leave a shopper feeling dazed and confused. One carton may label its eggs “Natural.” Another carton may call them “Free Range,” while yet another may claim its eggs are “Certified Organic.” How are thoughtful consumers supposed to know what these labels and claims really mean?
The truth is that the majority of egg labels have little relevance to animal welfare or, if they do, they have no official standards or any mechanism to enforce them.
Certified Organic: The birds are uncaged inside barns, and are required to have outdoor access, but the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.
Free-Range: While the USDA has defined the meaning of “free-range” for some poultry products, there are no standards in “free-range” egg production. Typically, free-range hens are uncaged inside barns and have some degree of outdoor access, but there are no requirements for the amount, duration or quality of outdoor access. Since they are not caged, they can engage in many natural behaviors such as nesting and foraging. There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing.
Certified Humane: The birds are uncaged inside barns but may be kept indoors at all times. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing.
There are requirements for stocking density and number of perches and nesting boxes. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Certified Humane is a program of Humane Farm Animal Care.
Animal Welfare Approved: The highest animal welfare standards of any third-party auditing program. The birds are cage-free and continuous outdoor perching access is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Birds must be allowed to molt naturally. Beak cutting is prohibited. Animal Welfare Approved is a program of the Animal Welfare Institute.
American Humane Certified: This label allows both cage confinement and cage-free systems. Each animal that is confined in these so-called “furnished cages” has about the space of a legal-sized sheet of paper. An abundance of scientific evidence demonstrates that these cages are detrimental to animal welfare, and they are opposed by nearly every major US and EU animal welfare group. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. American Humane Certified is a program of American Humane Association.
Cage-Free: As the term implies, hens laying eggs labeled as “cage-free” are uncaged inside barns, but they generally do not have access to the outdoors. They can engage in many of their natural behaviors such as walking, nesting and spreading their wings. Beak cutting is permitted. There is no third-party auditing.
Free-Roaming: Also known as “free-range,” the USDA has defined this claim for some poultry products, but there are no standards in “free-roaming” egg production. This essentially means the hens are cage-free. There is no third-party auditing.
Food Alliance Certified: The birds are cage-free and access to outdoors or natural daylight is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are specific requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Starvation-based molting is prohibited. Beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Food Alliance Certified is a program of the Food Alliance.
United Egg Producers Certified: The overwhelming majority of the U.S. egg industry complies with this voluntary program, which permits routine cruel and inhumane factory farm practices. Hens laying these eggs have 67 square inches of cage space per bird, less area than a sheet of paper. The hens are confined in restrictive, barren battery cages and cannot perform many of their natural behaviors, including perching, nesting, foraging or even spreading their wings. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. This is a program of the United Egg Producers.
Vegetarian-Fed: These birds’ feed does not contain animal byproducts, but this label does not have significant relevance to the animals’ living conditions.
Natural: This label claim has no relevance to animal welfare.
Fertile: These eggs were laid by hens that lived with roosters, meaning they most likely were not caged.
Omega-3 Enriched: This label claim has no relevance to animal welfare.
†Virtually all hens in commercial egg operations—whether cage or cage-free—come from hatcheries that kill all male chicks shortly after hatching. The males are of no use to the egg industry because they don’t lay eggs and aren’t bred to grow as large or as rapidly as chickens used in the meat industry. Common methods of killing male chicks include suffocation, gassing and grinding. Hundreds of millions of male chicks are killed at hatcheries each year in the United States.