Monday, September 24, 2012

Sports and Female Nutrition

Women are exceptional and successful world class athletes, but women have the extra stress of the female cycle.  Hormones and menstruation are a huge factor in athletic performance.  Higher and cyclical nutritional needs require a constant monitor and awareness of the flux in a woman’s body.

What makes an athlete?  It is the exceptional ability to pump huge volumes of blood quickly through the heart, liver and lungs.  Blood cleansers such as Red Clover, Nettles and Chlorophyll can help to clean the blood and decongest the liver.  For women, herbs such as Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry) are helpful to bio-degrade hormones in the liver.

Notes on iron
Track your cycle to make sure your iron is up before your period starts, this can be done with beets, blue and black berries, beet greens, red meat, barley malt, and black strap molasses. Miso and tamari sauce are good to increase B12.  Floradix liquid tonic by Salushaus (Flora) is the only worthy iron supplement is my opinion.  It also will work as a mild detoxifier for the liver.  If you have had problems with constipation while on iron supplements, this highly digestible and absorbable food form will be a much better choice.


Athletic performance increases the body’s production of free radicals. We choose to exercise to feel better and look younger, but end up damaging and aging our cells at an increased rate.

Free radicals are reactive compounds that can damage the cells that they come into contact with. Although impossible to avoid, we need to minimize our exposure to free radicals while simultaneously supporting our body’s ability to neutralize them.  Unless kept in check, excessive free radicals can cause a chain reaction that contributes to the erosion of good health. This is why berries and specifically a concentrated berry supplement should be thought of as one of our most effective defenses.

What is ORAC?  The latest scientific standard for measuring the antioxidant properties of food is in ORAC units (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). ORAC measures the total antioxidant capacity of a food or nutrient and can help us to understand its antioxidant strength. This is where berry concentrates really shine. 

Green food supplements
Each little scoop offers the health promoting properties of a whole days’ worth of veggies. Greens foods are highly alkaline, full of wonderful phytonutrients and should be considered one of the cornerstones of any supplement program. A berry supplement should be thought of in the same way.

Berry concentrates and green foods both offer tremendous health benefits, but the most complete nutritional strategy includes a serving of each.

In praise of the noble Avocado

Many years ago I had a friend who bicycled over 40 miles so that she could purchase one avocado.  At the time I thought she was stark raving bonkers!  I now can understand why she saw the Avocado as an essential food worth going ‘the extra mile’.

It is interesting that the signature of the avocado is shaped like the womb and cervix of the female and it takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. It contains about 141 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition including Essential Fatty Acids, glutathione and Vitamin C.  When a woman eats one avocado a week, it helps to nourish the glands and help to balance the hormones. It feeds the brain, joints and skin.

This amazing fruit easily adds a creamed texture to any food.  Mashed and added to a vinaigrette is instantly becomes a cream dressing loaded with nutritional value.  It can be whipped with a little agave syrup and vanilla extract to make an amazing dairy free ‘whipped cream’ dip for fresh fruit. Try it in sandwiches and salads.  Try it as a milkshake by adding it to rice, almond or soy milk.

Getting More Food-based Calcium

Japanese Gomasio
Rinse 1 cup of organic brown sesame seeds in sieve under tepid running water
Let drain
Use dry cast iron skillet –medium, medium-low heat 
Cut dulse into very small bits
Toast dulse in pan until it is dry and crisp
Add 1 tsp Celtic salt –ground fine
Up end sieve and dump in sesame seeds all at once
Spread lightly over bottom of skillet and leave it to dry for a bit without stirring
When it releases from the bottom, stir gently and fairly constantly (you may need to reduce heat)
This is ready when seeds are fragrant, slightly golden and hollow
Cool slightly and store in an airtight jar.
To release the calcium and minerals inside the seed, grind the seeds coarsely with a mortar and pestle or small coffee grinder just before serving.

For an interesting and calcium rich salad dressing, grind about ¼ cup with mortar and pestle, or small coffee grinder and add to any Balsamic Vinaigrette. 

To get more calcium working with foods, remember anything that has structure, has more calcium.  For example, brussel sprouts have more calcium content than leaf lettuce.
Just as soaking beans for 8 hours activates the enzymes and makes the beans easier to digest, so is true with nuts and seeds. 

Soak organic almonds overnight in pure water.  Drain in the morning and eat 6 or so 2x daily.  Soak organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds in pure water for about one hour.  Drain and add as a topping to salad or rice.  Instead of a dry waxy crunch, you will now have a tender and fresh food crunch.

Boil a heaping teaspoon of Oatstraw in a pint of water for 5 minutes and then use this water for making tea.  Nettles would be a safe choice to increase iron as well as performing as a natural diuretic.  Mineral rich Alfalfa would be a great choice.  Put something else fun in it for flavour.  I like cranberry juice, or lemon/lime juice.

Keep in mind that it is not only the calcium we ingest, but the calcium that we deplete. 

Nutritionist, Anna Marie Colbin has a published a great deal of research regarding the calcium bandits and their effects over a long period of time.  Acid based foods draw calcium to buffer from our system.  Coffee, and sugar and especially carbonated beverages are huge calcium thieves.  So it’s not only what we eat, but what we don’t.

A Miracle Grain
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is a nutrient power house. Quinoa is very high in protein (14% by mass) and is also considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 amino acids required for a human diet. It is high in calcium – making it a great selection for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant. It also has good amounts of phosphorous, iron and fibre.

Higher in monounsaturated fats than wheat and grain, quinoa is very heart healthy. It also contains small amounts of omega 3 fatty acids.

At one time only available in specialty or health food stores, quinoa is now widely available at grocery stores. The standard quinoa is off-white, however black and red quinoa is also available. It is an extremely versatile ingredient and can be substituted in for a recipe that calls for a whole grain. The flavour is mellow enough that it can accompany many flavour profiles.

Quinoa is cooked similarly to rice. When cooked, quinoa will quadruple in volume (1 cup dry will yield 4 cups cooked). For the most part, quinoa should be rinsed before cooking
Cooked quinoa can be enjoyed hot or cold. Store dry quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for three to six months. Cooked quinoa can be stored refrigerated about three days.
 Quinoa flour is also available and is used commonly in gluten-free baked goods.
Cooking Quinoa

(1Cup) of the largest, whitest Quinoa you can find (organic Bolivian)
I have found a great brand from Cosco ‘Tru Roots’ organic
*Quinoa has a resin on the outside which will be bitter is you don’t rinse like mad

Put the one cup of grain in a large measuring cup add cool water.
Whisk vigorously and drain carefully
Repeat this rinse at least 5 times and cover with clean water to the 4 cup mark
Soak for at least 2 to 8 hours on counter. If you are not ready to cook it right away you can put grain and water and all in the fridge.  What you are looking for is that the quinoa grain will almost triple in size
Before cooking drain carefully and rinse and whisk the Quinoa another 5 times.

Transfer to a good rice pot and add (1 cup) of water
Bring to a full boil and stir well. 
Put lid on and turn heat to lowest setting
Time for 15 minutes then take pot off heat and let rest for another 5 minutes.  You want an el dente grain. Don’t overcook!
Take off the lid right away and fluff with a fork.
For a side grain, serve as is.  As a salad grain, let it cool.
Option:  Throw in chopped spinach or swiss card and let the greens wilt.

Quinoa Tabouli Salad:
Soak ¼ Cup Sunflower seeds and ¼ Cup pumpkin seeds in filtered water for 1 hour (I use a mason jar)
Mix basic white wine vinaigrette, in a medium salad bowl,
½ Cup light tasting oil, I like Koroneiki Olive Oil
¼ Cup white wine vinegar
Herbamere/Sea Salt

1 Cup cherry tomatoes halved
1 Cup Cucumber diced
½ Cup Green onions chopped
1 Cup Red pepper diced
1 Cup Parsley chopped
Rinse and strain the seeds and add to vegetables
Mix well to coat with dressing.
Add quinoa and toss gently to mix

Quinoa has a very delicate flavor and can be overpowered by strong herbs or strong flavoured oils, so keep flavours light 
Cover and marinate in fridge for 1 hour or so.

In regard to the Quinoa Salad, I have used the basic recipe but substituted cooked rice or wild rice/rice or even potatoes that were cooked and left over.

I always have fresh mint/parsley growing in pots outside and add this to any food I eat during spring/summer/fall.  For potatoes, I like a lemon/olive oil dressing.  By soaking nuts and seeds you have easily digestible essential fats and a way to up your protein.

Mineral Balance
The other addition I might suggest if you are beginning to exercise or are in the peak of training/competition especially in the summer heat is a supplement called Endurolyte, which is a supplement that replaces electrolytes lost during exercise.  It is much like Gator-aid but without the sugar and nasty colour chemicals.

Women Who Run
There is little difference between ‘running’ and ‘on the run’.  Any woman who has a lifestyle that is extra demanding can use extra nutritional support.  Often women look after everyone else and let themselves get run down. 

The one constant in life is change
A Specialized Kinesiology assessment can determine what your current personal nutritional needs are.  We are at our best when we follow a personal and individualized program that changes as our lifestyle changes. 

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