Category Archives: Tips for Healthy Living

What is Carrageenan?

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So I just got through having a very interesting conversation with a fellow tubie mom.  She was looking for advice because her son had suddenly been vomiting his morning blends.  At first she thought it might be a cold but no other symptoms arose.  He was tolerating broth and baby food so it did not sound like a flu bug.  Then she mentioned a change in the coconut milk she had been buying for her blends.  She went from using Silk coconut milk to using Simple Truth coconut milk.  She questioned whether or not it might be a particular additive in the Simple Truth that was not in the Silk.  That additive was Carrageenen.  Since I make my milks fresh, I hadn’t thought about additives and the side effects they might have. I vaguely remember hearing the name but had no idea what it was so I hung up the phone and went looking.

After clicking on the first website that spoke about it and reading the contents, a light bulb went off.  There was a quote from an article that made me feel that this mom had hit the nail on the head:

“Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.”

And what do pathogens like Salmonella trigger the body to do?  You guessed it.  Vomit.  Unfortunately a lot of organic foods add these ingredients to stabilize their products and add shelf life.  So it could be that or a number of different additives that could be causing this little tubie’s tummy troubles.  The best answer is to go back to what was working.  If the vomiting stops, you’ve at least solved the immediate problem.  Then, keep a list of ingredients of the problem item in a file.  If a similar problem arises from another product compare the ingredients to see what they have in common.   Then research the side effects of those ingredients so that you can narrow down the list culprits.

It is best, whenever possible to make your own milks.  That way you know exactly what is in it and what, if anything, needs to be removed.  It is also much more cost effective.  I do understand that not everyone has the time to do this.  But, if you are cooking and/or blending for someone on a specialized diet or has multiple allergies/sensitivities, it is well worth the time and effort.

If you are interested in reading more about Carrageenan this article contains a lot of interesting information.

Hemp Seed

https://cdn.authoritynutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/hemp-seeds-whole-and-shelled.jpg

I recently joined a group that focuses on blenderized diets. Originally my goal was to share my experience in order to help others with g-tubes live healthier lives.  Little did I know I was going to need their help as well.  Because Matthew is getting older and in need of more calories but not able to handle large volumes, I posed a question to the group regarding “milks” that were high in calorie.  Hemp seed milk (something I hadn’t heard of) was on the list.  Since this was coming from a group of people that had lot’s of experience, I began looking into it.

What I found was, it is yet another super food.  So, as always, I dug deeper.  Here’s what I found:

  • Hemp seeds have 9 grams of protein per serving.  They contain all of the essential amino acids making them a complete protein.
  • They are a good source of iron and Zinc.
  • They are an excellent source of Vitamin E, Magnesium and Phosphorus.
  • There is also 2.8mg of Manganese which is 140% of the DV.

Hemp seeds are also over 30% fat but they are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 which is more than both chia seeds and flax seeds.  These fatty acids, in balanced proportions, have been linked to a host of health benefits“The typical American diet contains 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally-oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease.”

One bit of information I found was very important to know.  Matthew has a condition called Chronic Thrombocytopenia.  Due to a severe infection he had at the age of 4, Matthew has a lower than normal number of platelets in his blood.  Since platelets are the part of the blood that allows clotting to occur, it is important for me to know that the oil in hemp seed may slow blood clotting.  this is why it is so important for anyone being followed by a physician for any medical condition should research any and all super foods that hit the market and, check with and/or inform your doctor if you have or are interested in adding them to your diet.

Sometimes people have g-tubes and don’t have a lot of other medical conditions so just trying out this healthy high calorie food.  Still others, like Matthew, are so complicated medically that research has to be done before even considering it.  Healthy or not, medically complicated or not, my treat all super foods the same.  See what is being said and check it against other websites.  Health food websites tend to only give the health benefits and not the side effects or contraindications.  Medical websites will sometimes do just the opposite.  I choose to look at both sides and decide whether or not it’s something that will benefit Matthew or make conditions worse.  If I am unsure, I check with his doctors.  I especially make sure to alert his GI doctor of any dietary changes I have made.  I also don’t give him anything I haven’t tried myself.

In closing, I follow the “less is more” rule.  In other words, just because a super food has some really enticing health benefits, ingesting lots of it can cause problems.  Look for sites that will give you therapeutic doses and stick to them.  Our goal is to stay out of the doctor’s office, not end up in one.

Papaya

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Ahh, papaya!  I’ve come across two groups of people when it comes to this amazing fruit.  Those that love it and those that are, well…let’s just say, not so fond of it.  Whether you like it or not, it’s health benefits are impressive, to say the least, so finding a way of incorporating it into your diet is definitely a good idea.  You will often find papaya in tropical frozen fruit blends. Blended in a smoothie is a tricky way of sneaking it in if you ave a struggle with the after taste.  But that’s only 1 way.  There are lot’s of recipes to suit anyone’s tastes.
Aside from being and excellent natural laxative, papaya has some some pretty impressive nutritional facts . One cup of raw papaya contains:

  • 55 calories
  • only 8 grams of sugar
  • 3 grams of dietary fiber
  • 144% RDI of vitamin C
  • 31% RDI of vitamin A
  • 13% RDI of Folate
  • 10% (360mg) RDI of potassium

Papaya can also:  Promote digestive health, work as an anti-inflammatory, boost the immune system and much much more.

Food Tip:  When pureeing papaya, remove the skin.  It adds no nutritional benefit, can be bitter to taste and can contain latex can cause allergic reactions.  Also, for some reason, papaya goes from being a smooth, slippery, and easy to use in a bolus or pump feeding to this:

Pureed papaya with skin
Pureed papaya with skin

Yes I did that.  No, it does not bolus well (threatens to clog) and will not blend into my food-based laxative cocktail.  Chalk one up for experience.  So, in the end, if you have not tried papaya…Go for it!

Vitamix: Engineered to Last

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So why is the Vitamix the only blender I will endorse?  It is the Vitamix engineering.  Vitamix has an extensive history and a warranty that backs their claims.  And why not?  This company has been going strong since 1921!  Mine has been running strong since 2011 and I use it daily.  There isn’t another appliance in my house that I can say that about.  It is an investment into the health of my family.

Coconut Milk/Pros and Cons

As Matthew grows it gets harder and harder to keep up with his calorie need without adding more formula.  To complicate things more, in the last 2 years, his bowel has begun functioning much less efficient.  Because of that I tested him for 4 days with coconut oil to make sure he wasn’t allergic to it.  Once I saw that he was not allergic to it, I began making his oatmeal with fresh coconut milk I blend myself.  Since I had already done research on it, I felt comfortable giving it to him.  I will post that recipe and my recipe for coconut seed pudding soon.

Since there is a lot of confusion about the health benefits of it, I thought it would be good to pass on what I have read.  I feel strongly in educating myself on anything I eat but much more so for Matthew.  So many of us race off after every new “super food” that hits the news without looking into the particulars of it.  I tend to look for articles done with research behind them and, because of my medical background, articles written by MDs.  I know there are many doctors who are anti whole food healing but not all of them are.

I read this article about coconut milk and I felt it gave a good picture of the pros and cons of it.  Take a look and decide for yourself.

 

Watermelon

Despite popular belief that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar, watermelon is actually considered a nutrient dense food, a food that provides a high amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for a low amount of calories.
Watermelons have become synonymous with summer and picnics, and for good reason. Their refreshing quality and sweet taste help to combat the heat and also provide a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert for kids and adults alike to enjoy.
Along with cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelons are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. There are five common types of watermelon: seeded, seedless, mini (also known as personal), yellow and orange.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of watermelon and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more watermelon into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming watermelon.
Nutritional breakdown of watermelon

1-1244912058986lAlong with cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelons are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae.
One cup of diced watermelon (152 grams) contains 43 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber) and 1 gram of fiber. One cup of watermelon will provide 17% of vitamin A, 21% of vitamin C, 2% of iron and 1% of calcium needs for the day.
Watermelon also contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelon contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable.
Despite being a great source of the above nutrients, watermelon is made up of 92% water.
(Excerpt taken from Medical News Today. Originally published: Sunday 10/6/13)

Chia Seeds

Most of us are very motivated to live healthier lifestyles these days and rightfully so.  With problems such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and allergies on the rise, it would be foolish not to.  We are also very quick to jump on the band wagon when some new “super food” comes along.  It’s easy to do when all we hear and read is how our food is poisoning us and making us sick.  That being said we need to “KNOW OUR SUPER FOODS!”

Today’s topic is chia seeds.  When I was growing up, they were only good for growing pets at Christmas time (Come on now, we all remember the commercials).  So when the internet and airways became abuzz with how good these tiny seeds were for you, I got interested.  I read that they were high in protein and fiber and, because I’m always looking  for new sources of plant based protein for Matthew, I was eager to try them.  There were no instructions on the bag so I just tossed some in to a batch of Matthew’s oatmeal.  When his oatmeal became extremely thick, I decided to research them further.  I found out that they absorb about 27 times their weight in water!

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Dry chia seeds
After 5 minutes
After 15 minutes

So what’s the big deal?  If the seeds aren’t soaked first, people like Mathew could end up with a blockage because the chia seeds adsorbed the water out of their digestive tract.  So, before you add any new food to your diet, research, research, research!  If you have health problems, talk with you doctor.

Want to know more about chia seeds?  Check out this link:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/20141021/use-chia-seeds-with-caution-researcher-warns

New Promotion!

There is no doubt that buying a Vitamix can save you lots of money in the long run.  That being said, I understand it can be hard to finance a brand new one.  Don’t give up on your dream of owning one yet.  Vitamix has a new promotion on their Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard Program Blenders.  Vitamix offers a verity of options for financing their blenders.  So now there really isn’t any reason for not owning one.  Order yours today!

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