Food for Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childhood – Part 3

For the final part of this series, we’re going to talk about early childhood nutrition. Knowing what to feed the little munchkins will strengthen their DNA, help fight disease, and support the best growth possible. It’s one of the most important parts of parenting. You’re laying the foundation for the rest of their life. 

Healthy eating for children can: 

  • Stabilize their energy.
  • Improve their minds.
  • Even out their moods.
  • Help them maintain a healthy weight.
  • Help prevent mental health conditions. These include depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

We can use mealtime as a way to get to know who our little ones are. Get them talking; ask them about their day. Use it as a time to teach them about the different foods on their plate. For example, “These almonds help give you beautiful skin, and guess where they grow? On trees!” Kids are curious creatures, so fuel them with fun facts. 


photo by: STEPHANIE RAUSSER

Get Involved

One of the best ways to get your kids to branch out and try new things is to get them involved. Get them to come to the grocery store with you and pick out a fun new fruit or vegetable. Grow a garden together at home. Microgreens and herbs are both super easy to grow at home and packed with nutrients. 

Kids also make the cutest sous chefs. You can give them small tasks to do, like grabbing fruits out of the fridge and laying them organized on the table. Or washing vegetables in the sink. Make something fun and colorful, like fruit or vegetable skewers. You can make the plate a garden, with broccoli for trees, carrots for people, and squash as the sun. Have it be their little creative project. 

Eat the Rainbow

The 9 most essential parts of a child’s diet are a healthy dose of fats, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, folate, fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. The good news is that this is easily covered if we simply eat the rainbow.

  • Red fruits and vegetables help protect the heart. They are loaded with antioxidants that helps improve brain function and lower the risk of heart disease. They contain high levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, and folate among others. Red bell peppers, strawberries, beets, tomatoes, watermelon, cherries, and radishes are all super delicious and fun to make dishes with. 
  • Blue fruits and vegetables are important for memory, urinary tract health, and healthy digestion. They contain lots of vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, and vitamin D. Blueberries, red cabbage, blackberries, plums, purple peppers, and purple endives are all beautiful and delicious. 
  • Green vegetables and fruits boost the immune system, fight harmful free radicals, normalize digestion, lower cholesterol, and support retinal health. They contain high levels of chlorophyll, fiber, calcium, folate, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Think cucumbers, arugula, spinach, kale, celery, zucchini, kiwifruit, and honeydew melon. 
  • Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight harmful free radicals, encourage a balanced pH level, and pair well with magnesium and calcium for healthy bones. They are loaded with beta-carotene, flavonoids, potassium, and vitamin C. Look to oranges, lemons, carrots, squash, yellow peppers, yellow tomatoes, pineapples, mangos, butternut squash, peaches, chickpeas, and papayas. 
  • Violet and white fruits and vegetables help activate natural killer B and T cells; reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers; and balance hormone levels. They contain beta-glucans, EGCG’s (reduces inflammation), and lignans that all elicit powerful immune-boosting activity. A rather interesting group here. It includes ginger, seaweed, quinoa, brown rice, kelp, sesame seeds, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds. 

Have the little ones decorate their plates with all colors of the rainbow. Make it a challenge to eat every color each day. This is such an important time in their lives. And a wonderful opportunity to bond and teach them little life lessons. 

Mason Jar Rainbow Meal to Go!

Mason Jar Rainbow Meal-to-Go

Note: Be sure to cut the food below into pieces appropriate for the child’s age. Remind the kiddos to chew really well too. 

Ingredients:

Red: red pepper/radish/strawberries

Orange: carrots/butternut squash noodles/pumpkin

Yellow: yellow pepper/yellow tomatoes/chick peas/pineapple

Green: baby greens/kale/romaine

Blue: blueberries

Indigo: red cabbage

Violet/white: quinoa/brown rice/kelp noodles/sesame seeds/pumpkin seeds/hemp hearts

Procedure: Have your kids layer a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds to resemble a rainbow. Following the ROYGBIV pattern, optional. Pour sauce over top before serving.

Best Kids Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

¼ cup fresh basil

½ cup sun dried tomatoes

¼ cup Brazil nuts or Pumpkin Seeds (nut-free)

¼ cup olive oil or flax oil

½ tbsp dulse

1 tbsp hemp hearts

1 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp sauerkraut

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

pinch of pink salt

2 cloves garlic, optional

Procedure: Blend all in the High-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Serve with mason-jar salad. 

blog post written by Jordyn David

Disclaimer

The information shared in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your healthcare professional. Pachavega assumes no liability for adverse health reactions upon following suggestions in this article.

You should not use the information on this site to diagnosis or treat of any health problem or as a substitute for medication or other treatment prescribed by your healthcare practitioner. You should consult a healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, fast, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or if you suspect you might have a health problem.

Each person is different, and the way you react to a particular food or product may be significantly different from the way other people react to such product or food. You should consult your healthcare practitioner and furthermore, do more research regarding any potential adverse interactions between medication you are currently taking and food based nutritional supplements.

Foods for Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childhood – Part 2

Now, in Part 2 of this series, we’re going to move into nutrition during pregnancy. There are so many fads and facts being thrown out there. It can feel overwhelming and seem impossible to know exactly what you should be eating. The first rule of thumb, as always, is to listen to your body. 

A study published in Nature Neuroscience by Leiden University in the Netherlands reveals that “during pregnancy, women undergo significant brain remodeling that persists for at least two years after birth. The study also offers preliminary evidence that this remodeling may play a role in helping women transition into motherhood.” You are the queen of intuition; you are more in tune now than ever with your body. Use it to guide your choices and discover what works for you.

According to John Hopkins’ School of Medicine, a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy involves: 

  • Appropriate weight gain
  • A balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Appropriate and timely vitamin and mineral supplementation

As helpful as intuition is when it comes to when to eat, when to move, and when to sleep; it’s also incredibly important to educate yourself on which kinds of foods and supplements are optimal for your body right now. Here is a quick breakdown of each bullet with a few tips from Pachavega.

What is the appropriate weight gain?

Hopkins’ Medicine recommends increasing by about 300 calories per day per child. You may be wondering, “Well, where should these extra calories come from?” Great question! We want to eat a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and sprouted whole grains. Keep sweets and unhealthy saturated fats to a minimum. And also drink tons of fluids. 

On average, women gain about 12 kilograms, or 26 pounds, during pregnancy, and most of the weight gain is due to water. To be more exact, you can Body Mass Index, and refer to the chart below. 

Pre-pregnancy BMIWeight-for-height
status
Recommended
weight gain
<18.5Underweight28-40 pounds
18.5 to 24.9Normal weight25-35 pounds
25 to 29.9Overweight15-25 pounds
>30Obese11-20 pounds

Source: https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php#r3

Amniotic fluid is the water that surrounds the fetus and counts for about 10% of this weight gain. The Amniotic Fluid Volume (AFV) is a predictor of fetal health and wellbeing. The water acts as a shock absorber, protecting the child from mechanical trauma while also preventing umbilical cord compression. 

This weight gain is also coming from your blood volume increasing by 30% and your plasma volume increasing by 40%. Drinking water helps to prevent blood clotting, pre-term labor, and even the risk of a post-delivery stroke.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Nutrition is more important than ever at this time. Try to consume whole, organic foods from plant-based sources. Pregnant women should aim for about 70 grams of protein per day during the second and third trimesters. Try for at least two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables every day. And according to WebMD, you want to stay between six and eleven servings of grains. It’s a large window, but again, listen to your body. Some days will be different than others. 

The benefits of healthy eating during pregnancy include:

  • Fewer Complications – such as unwanted cravings
  • Increased Energy
  • Successful Fetal Development
  • Improved Sleep
  • Reduced Risk of Getting Sick

When choosing what to eat, opt for foods rich in healthy fats, calcium, iron, magnesium, folic acid, protein, potassium, zinc, iodine (found in iodized table salt), selenium, and vitamins C, D, E & B6.

Folate (or folic acid) is important for healthy fetal development and prevents congenital disorders. Congenital disorders are conditions that are present in the baby upon birth. Common ones include cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, cleft lip and palate, spinal bifida, and heart conditions. 

Foods rich in folate are:

  • Broccoli
  • Avocados 
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Berries 
  • Peas 
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Lentils 
  • Beets 
  • Sweet potatoes

Calcium is always important but even more vital during pregnancy. It helps the baby’s bone development and protects the mother’s skeletal health. If the mother isn’t getting enough calcium through diet and supplementation, her body will use its own storage centers to give to the child, placing her at risk for bone loss and osteoporosis later in life. 

Foods rich in calcium are:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Peas 
  • Sesame seeds

Potassium helps reduce fluid retention, balances electrolytes, and eases restless leg syndrome and cramps. It also eases gestational hypertension, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy. Studies have shown women who experience high blood pressure during pregnancy have low potassium levels. Its ability to balance electrolytes normalizes blood pressure, thus easing symptoms associated with it. 

Foods high in potassium are:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas 

Healthy fats help prevent miscarriages due to undernourishment. They act as a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins D, E, and K, which are essential for infant brain and bone development. They also act as a source of energy needed for growth and repair in both your body and your baby’s. Stick to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (omega-6 and omega-3) as well as the healthy saturated fat, coconut oil. 

Foods rich in healthy fats are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Pumpkin seeds (Omega-3)
  • Hemp hearts
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds

Vitamin C helps boost your immune system during pregnancy. It works to repair tissue and heal wounds as well as supports healthy bone and teeth development in your baby. Vitamin C also aids in the production of collagen – important for skin, cartilage, and joint health – and induces the body’s ability to absorb iron. 

Foods rich in vitamin C are:

  • Red bell peppers
  • Citrus (oranges, lemons) 
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries 

Magnesium is an essential mineral required for body temperature regulation and protein synthesis. Thus, it is critical for your baby’s bone development, and it prevents miscarriages, high blood pressure, premature labor, and preeclampsia. It also helps relieve constipation, which is a common complaint from pregnant women. 

Foods high in magnesium are:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach 
  • Oatmeal
  • Peas 
  • Figs 

Protein and amino acids are the building blocks of cells and tissues in early embryonic development. The fetus receives a continuous stream of amino acids through the placenta so it can grow into a healthy, strong baby. Protein also helps with the growth of the mother’s uterine and breast tissue as well as assisting in increasing blood supply. 

Great sources of protein include:

  • Walnuts
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chia seeds
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Quinoa 
  • Peas
  • Maca 

Iron is used to produce hemoglobin, which is a red blood cell protein that carries oxygen to the mother’s tissues and the embryo. Thus, it is critical in embryonic development as the baby needs lots of oxygen and blood flow to grow. Pregnant women need double the iron than they normally do. If it’s not consumed in adequate amounts, the mother could become anemic and risk premature birth, low birth weight, and postpartum depression.

Foods high in iron are:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach 
  • Dates 
  • Apricots
  • Beets
  • Oatmeal
  • Maca 
  • Nutritional yeast 

Other vitamins and minerals that are also incredibly important for the baby’s brain and cognitive development are zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. Try pumpkin seeds for an excellent source of zinc, almonds for vitamin E, and brazil nuts for selenium.

Get regular exercise when pregnant.

The rule of thumb is that if you were active before, you are safe to be active during pregnancy. Try for a combination of cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises; but avoid bouncing. Pay attention to signs such as dizziness, pain in your back or neck, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath. Take it easy, but maintain your routine. 

If you didn’t exercise regularly before and you want to start, move into it slowly and listen to your body (and intuition!) always. It is a great idea, though, to move. Here are a few benefits:

  • Reduces backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
  • Increases your energy
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves your posture
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Maintains fitness levels to improve your ability to cope with labor. 
  • Makes it easier to get back in shape after your baby is born because the habit is established and your muscles are accustomed. 

Opt for appropriate and timely mineral and vitamin supplementation. 

According to the Department of Health and Social Care of the UK, women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting before you’re pregnant until you’re 12 weeks in. However, if you weren’t taking it before you became pregnant, know that folate is still effective as long as it’s taken in the first few weeks after conception.

Top supplements we recommend at Pachavega are:

  • Marine Phytoplankton
  • Fulvic/Humic Acid
  • Tocotrienols – Vitamin E
  • Whole Foods Prenatal

Marine Phytoplankton is considered the grandmother of all superfoods and is one of the sea’s most mineral-rich plants coming covering the full spectrum. It is an excellent source of DHA’s and EPA’s and is considered a purer, better form of fish oil since it’s lower on the food chain and not exposed to as many toxins. 

Fulvic/Humic Acid is one of the most important nutritional discoveries of the last 100 years. It’s potent antioxidant and electrolyte content ounce for ounce render it one of the most replenishing, restorative, and revitalizing supplements there is. The electrolytes help make cell membranes more permeable, which makes it easier for the cell to take in vitamins and minerals. 

Other beneficial supplements are ginger, which is wonderful for motion sickness and pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. And also probiotics can help with postpartum depression, and infant eczema and dermatitis. 

There is so much exciting new information to learn about with motherhood. Try to read during your downtown, breath, and know that you will make it through this. The fact that you’ve read this article already tells me you’re a great mom.

We are always here for you if you ever have any questions. Remember to follow your intuition.  And tune into the third part of this series for nutrition and early childhood. 

blog post written by Jordyn David

Disclaimer

The information shared in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your healthcare professional. Pachavega assumes no liability for adverse health reactions upon following suggestions in this article.

You should not use the information on this site to diagnosis or treat of any health problem or as a substitute for medication or other treatment prescribed by your healthcare practitioner. You should consult a healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, fast, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or if you suspect you might have a health problem.

Each person is different, and the way you react to a particular food or product may be significantly different from the way other people react to such product or food. You should consult your healthcare practitioner and furthermore, do more research regarding any potential adverse interactions between medication you are currently taking and food based nutritional supplements.

References:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/nutrition-during-pregnancy#:~:text=To%20maintain%20a%20healthy%20pregnancy,be%20kept%20to%20a%20minimum.

https://njperinatal.com/2017/05/benefits-of-eating-healthy-during-pregnancy/

https://medlineplus.gov/pregnancyandnutrition.html

https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php#r3

https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/what-is-a-congenital-disorder

https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/diet/calcium-during-pregnancy/

https://www.aptaclub.co.uk/pregnancy/diet-and-nutrition/your-pregnancy-diet/healthy-pregnancy-diet.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590399/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235221/#:~:text=Pregnancy%20complicates%20the%20already%20complex,demands%20on%20the%20pregnant%20woman.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/anemia-during-pregnancy/art-20114455#:~:text=Your%20body%20uses%20iron%20to,supply%20oxygen%20to%20your%20baby.

Foods for Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childhood

Welcome to this 3-part series for new parents! Whether you’re planning to conceive, are 4 weeks in, holding your newborn baby, or chasing a toddler, we’re going to cover healthy eating practices from pre-conception to early childhood. Is there anything more exciting and frightening at the same time? 

Part 1: Fertility

Let’s begin at Part 1: Fertility. Today, 1 in 8 couples face infertility, according to Resolve, the National Infertility Association. While genetics and hereditary factors are difficult to control, we can 100% control what we put in our mouths and how we care for ourselves. A healthy diet and lifestyle can boost fertility by up to 69%. Here are a few foods to consider adding to your diet plus a few you may want to kick to the curb.

Raw Fruits & Vegetables

One of the main supportive arguments for raw foodies is that raw food boosts fertility. It regulates blood sugar and allows for better absorption of B vitamins, folate, vitamin C, and phytochemicals. All incredibly important to ovulation. “Watermelon and asparagus, in addition to other raw fruits and vegetables, give the body a rich supply of glutathione, which is important for egg quality,” says Alisa Vitti, integrative nutritionist and author of WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source.

Whole fruits and vegetables are digested more slowly, due to their high-fiber content, which regulates blood sugar. When your blood sugar is too high, the pancreas secretes insulin to help lower sugar levels in the blood. We want to avoid foods high in sugar which cause this because high insulin in the blood leads to anovulation, or lack of ovulation. 

Two easy ways you can get your whole, rawesome foods in are through salads and juices. Try to consume fresh (mostly) vegetable juices with a few fruits like goji berries – which contain lots of hormone-regulating phytochemicals. 

If you struggle with digestion and a weakened gut, you can try lightly steaming your vegetables and/or pureeing them. If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you should reduce your consumption of goitrogenic foods, such as raw broccoli or cauliflower, which can inhibit thyroid function and decrease fertility.

Plant-Based Protein

In a study by George Chavarro, M.D., and his colleagues, they found “consuming 5% of energy as vegetable protein as opposed to animal protein was associated with a more than 50% lower risk of ovulatory infertility.” Chavarro concluded that “replacing animal sources of protein, in particular chicken and red meats, with vegetable sources of protein may reduce the risk of infertility due to anovulation.”

Lentils, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds are all excellent sources of plant-based proteins. Raw nuts and seeds are incredibly high in zinc and arginine, which support sperm formation and motility. Turn them into snacks and coat them with raw cacao for an extra nutritional punch that supports hormonal balance and DNA integrity of eggs and sperm.

Healthy Fats

Replacing animal fats with plant-based fats improves fertility, cardiovascular function, and energy levels. Trans fats and animal fats are shown to negatively impact the fertilization process. Healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats balance hormones and improve insulin signaling – important for ovulation. 

“Studies have shown that consuming a certain quantity of monounsaturated fats in the form of avocados during the IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle increased the success rate by three and a half times, as opposed to women who don’t eat good plant-based fats during that period,” Vitti says. 

So, consume lots of healthy fats. This may beg the question about coconut oil. Though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it contains incredibly beneficial medium chain fatty acids that promote gut healing, thyroid health, and strengthens hormones by helping them travel through the body. Coconut oil also directly benefits fertility by maintaining a pH that promotes vaginal health. 

Whole Food Supplements

Prenatal Vitamins, Royal Jelly and He Shu Wu are three supplements to consider adding to your diet when trying to conceive. Taking these supplements in addition to eating a wholesome diet can not only improve your chances but bring you into a state of optimum health.

Prenatal vitamins will restore depleted levels of folic acid, iron, vitamin D, and calcium in the body. Royal Jelly has become an increasingly popular supplement to fertility in recent years. It’s a milky, gelatinous substance used by bees to nurture the queen bee (interesting!). It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that support and strengthen reproductive cells. It also assists male reproductive health by supporting DNA integrity, motility, maturity, and sperm count.

He Shu Wu, which translates to “black haired Mr. He,” is a powerful kidney/liver and yin tonic used in Chinese Medicine. It’s a classified adaptogen that has been traditionally used for men who have low libido, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction, and poor sperm motility. 

Foods to Avoid

There are certain foods to be weary of that may be best to avoid all together. These mainly include soy, dairy, GMO’s, and animal foods. 

Michael Gregor, M.D. from nutritionfacts.org discussed that higher dairy protein intake was associated with lower antral follicle counts among women in fertility treatment. In addition, he explained one study that found dairy protein actually ages ovarian eggs. The contributing factors could be steroids and hormones (eg. estrogen, progesterone, and placental hormones) found in commercial milks. 

Soy contains lots of phytoestrogens, which at high levels can interfere with hormone production. The female reproductive system relies heavily on the production and distribution of estrogen. And while it’s not soy in particular that’s disruptive, rather, the high levels of phytoestrogens within it. If you do consume soy, be mindful of the amount and opt for fermented versions such as miso or tempeh.

In the case of GMO’s, keep an eye out for the dirty dozen, opt for organic, and grow as much as you can at home. GMO’s disrupt hormone balances and nutrient absorption, so these are best to be avoided when trying to conceive. 

Manage Stress

Lastly, a healthy diet supports mental health and reduces the impact of stressors. Stressors can negatively affect semen quality and ovulation. Practicing daily meditation, yoga, and walks in nature can help regulate stress and combat depressive symptoms. Nurture your mind and spirit equally as much as your body.

We are in this together. Diet and lifestyle mean so much at this time, and it’s something you’ll want to keep up with as you move forward in parenthood. It’s such an exciting time. Please reach out for support if you ever need. We are here to help you if you ever have any questions or simply need a great recipe.


blog post by Jordyn David

Disclaimer

The information shared in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your healthcare professional. Pachavega assumes no liability for adverse health reactions upon following suggestions in this article.

You should not use the information on this site to diagnosis or treat of any health problem or as a substitute for medication or other treatment prescribed by your healthcare practitioner. You should consult a healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, fast, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication or nutritional supplement, or if you suspect you might have a health problem.

Each person is different, and the way you react to a particular food or product may be significantly different from the way other people react to such product or food. You should consult your healthcare practitioner and furthermore, do more research regarding any potential adverse interactions between medication you are currently taking and food based nutritional supplements.




How to Expand Consciousness for an Enriched Life

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” Rumi

Since before the common era, mystics, poets, yogis, monks, prophets, and priests have all shared something in common. They spoke of the ultimate Supreme Being that exists all around and within you. It is existence itself. It is everything that has and ever will be. Thus, all that you can see is a manifestation of it. Call it divine intelligence, Brahman, God, higher power. It is everything you experience and the one experiencing it. 

What is consciousness?

There is a distinct difference between consciousness and Consciousness. The capital ‘C’ points to the great Awareness, or God. The lower-case ‘c’ refers to our waking mind. Spiritual teacher, Ram Dass, taught that we are Awareness constricted into a soul with a body. We are the divine intelligence having a human experience. Which means the power of the universe rests within you. 

A poem on Awareness by Sufi mystic and poet, Hafiz. The Divine manifests itself into life for a reason unknown other than simply to express itself. Far from simple, though, it expresses. Think of the trillions of cells in your body in constant motion. Birds singing to each other across the forest. Majestic mountains and erupting volcanoes. Oceans and tsunamis. Falling in love and starting a family. It goes on and on and on, always creating while also being the stillness that permeates everything.

Who Am I?

“Neither this body am I, nor soul, Nor these fleeting images passing by, Nor concepts and thoughts, mental images… Who then am I? A consciousness without origin, Not born in time, nor begotten here below. I that which was, is and ever shall be, A jewel in the crown of the Divine Self, A star in the firmament of the luminous One.” ~ Rumi. 

You are “I AM.” And the soul purposefully disguises who it IS to experience the illusion of separation on earth. The suffering that comes from forgetting and feeling separate from the whole is perfectly set up for your soul to gather lessons. To finely tune itself. 

We are empathy and love. When we prioritize these natural traits, we expand our consciousness. We see how connected we truly are. Separation melts away and life becomes incredibly fulfilling.

What does it mean to expand consciousness?

Elevating consciousness simply means you are coming closer to your True Nature. The goal is to remember who you Are. There are layers on top of layers blocking us from seeing it. These are the stories you tell yourself every day. It’s our ego and its role in society and family. 

Think about the last time you went live on instagram or danced knowing others were watching. Remember that feeling in your belly? The big balloon in your chest. How amazing would it be to do this freely – totally unencumbered by fear of judgement? When we realize we are all One then we see the only person judging is ourselves. 

All the little surface differences like our jobs, homes, or physical appearances are the layers that block us from seeing our connectedness. We get wrapped up in our identity. 

Alan Watts said, “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’ Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated ‘egos’ inside bags of skin.”

Tantra philosophy teaches that it isn’t necessary to try to abandon the ego. We can connect to the Divinity inside of us through our everyday experiences. It requires developing intimacy with yourself and with life. Which comes from opening the heart and living through the lens of loving presence. You can be fully invested in your life roles while maintaining a steady loving awareness. 

What is it like to be more conscious?

It is a soft, steady awareness of who you Are. You begin to fall in love. With everything. “Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me,” said Ram Dass. We fall in love with ourselves, our work, our friends. We fall in love with the earth and all of its animals, plants, and magnificent elements. And we do it unconditionally. It is a state of being we begin to embody. The state of being love.  

We also start to feel more creative. As we tap into pure Consciousness, we access divine creative energy. Little gifts you may have never known you had will be available to you. Some of us may be inspired to make music or build something new for our home. We may journal, garden, or explore new recipes. Our natural state is to be creators. God is always creating and expanding, as are we. 

We feel more love and peace throughout the day. We are reminded of our Oneness, and we drop the illusion of separation. Even if just for a few minutes, it makes a huge difference over time. It’s less of “a practice,” and more of a state of being – or an awareness – to move into. 

How to be more conscious every day?

  1. Meditation – meditation is the art of coming closer to Consciousness over and over again. There are many apps, such as Insight Timer, Headspace, or even YouTube. A favorite for realizing your true nature is called “Who am I?” by meditation teacher, Sally Kempton. 
  2. Walking in nature – connecting with the earth every chance we get is also fantastic. We can allow ourselves to be wooed and in awe with the diverse creations all around. The more we tap in, the more we begin to see how truly connected it all is. Try walking barefoot, going on a hike, laying in the grass, or sitting next to a body of water. Feel the life of the earth pulsate all around you.
  3. Journaling – taking time to write down what’s on your mind can reveal so many delicate truths. Truths about our identity and desires. And also how we see the world and our place in it. A great method to use is freewriting. Pick a topic, start writing, and keep going until you have nothing left to say. The question, “Who am I?” is a great one as well as “What matters to me?” or “What do I want out of this life?” 

We celebrate this at Wanderlust Utopia, our health and wellness retreat center in Nicaragua. Pachavega Living Foods Education is also infused with the same wisdom talked above. We get creative with plant-based culinary arts, honoring the earth and our bodies. It’s one big harmonious relationship, and we believe the highest state of health comes from honoring what earth gave us in the most natural, bioavailable forms. And seeing our food as an expression of Consciousness that can be a vehicle to elevate our state of Being. 

We’re all here to tap in as often as we can, fall in love with life, and feel peace in our hearts. No matter the amount of suffering, pain, or confusion is thrown your way, the power of God consciousness resides within you. Your life can be exactly what you want it to be. 

And remember: You hold the power of the universe; it is under your control to expand into Consciousness in any moment. 

Andrew Ostrovsky/iStockphoto
Andrew Ostrovsky/iStockphoto

Blog post written by Jordyn David

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6 Ways to Naturally Boost the Immune System

Our immune system is a beautiful intimate dance of trillions of living organisms and compounds. They communicate with each other nonstop to maintain homeostasis within our bodies. This extraordinarily complex set of mechanisms is constantly responding to the environment. Every time we inhale or ingest food, we are taking in foreigners, to which our immune system says, 

“Is it safe?” 

“Safe! Coast is clear.” 

Or…

“Not safe! Prepare for battle!”  

Our body responds with something called innate immunity. Which is a series of defense mechanisms that prevent the foreign (potentially harmful) invaders from traveling throughout the body. It is there to kick viruses, bad bacteria, parasites, and other particles out of the body. 

Without a balanced immune response, we can experience severe inflammation and tissue damage that can lead to future disease and also affect everyday functioning. From our mood to our complexion, energy levels, sleep, brain function, and our susceptibility to infection – it’s all often a direct reflection of our immune response.  

Here are six ways we can strengthen our immune response. Each has a small biological explanation along with practical examples so we can begin to incorporate them into our day. After all, a strong immune system is a foundation for a longer, healthier, and happier life. 

Let’s dive in.

1. Eat Probiotic and Fiber-Rich Foods

There are roughly 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body and only 30 trillion human cells. That means you are more bacteria than human. Crazy, right? 

Probiotics and fiber-rich foods work to diversify the microbiome and gut flora by introducing good bacteria. Probiotics are loaded with millions of good bacteria, and fiber-rich foods contain pre-biotic fiber which acts as food for the good bacteria. 

The gut microbiome, specifically, is all of the microbes in your intestines. They begin diversifying the moment you’re born through your mother’s breast milk. And they continue to diversify and protect you throughout your entire lifespan. 

The gut is the largest contributor to our innate immunity. It holds a massive army of good bacteria that promote cell survival, strengthen the stomach lining, and induce protective responses from cells. Good bacteria are essentially both the brain and food of the gut’s immune cells, which help them win the battle against pathogens. A healthy population of gut flora as well as a diverse microbiome will help protect your heart, brain, and every other organ in your body. 

We can introduce good bacteria, or probiotics, through many natural foods. 

To clear the flair of supplements and potions, know it’s neither necessary nor the best way to get these little helpers into your gut. Nature provides ample natural sources. A few delicious foods that are rich in probiotics and excellent for gut health include: 

  • Nut-milk yogurts
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Nut cheeses 


2. Introduce medicinal mushrooms into your diet.

Similar to our muscles, the immune system gets stronger with a little exercise. We call these workout regimes immuno-stimulants and immuno-modulators

A beautiful example of immuno-modulators is the magical kingdom of fungi. Also known as mushrooms! Around 700 out of 140,000 species possess pharmacological properties. These medicinal species modulate or positively alter our bodies’ innate immune response. They wake up depressed or dormant parts of our immune system.

Mushrooms such as Reishi and Chaga have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. And with good reason. The therapeutic effects of mushrooms range from anticancer to the suppression of autoimmune diseases and common allergies. This works by their ability to induce the production of cytokines – messengers of the immune system that signal immune responses between cells. 

Reishi and Chaga are both excellent to start with. Reishi is known for its antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. They stimulate DNA production in the bone marrow to produce more white and red blood cells, essentially creating a bigger army. The increase in the concentration of white blood cells has rendered them helpful for people infected with HIV, mononucleosis, and other viral infections. 

Chaga is known to have the highest amount of antioxidants gram for gram than any other substance on the planet. They also contain a high amount of zinc, which is a crucial nutrient for the development and function of our immune cells. 


3. Use adaptogenic herbs.

Adaptogens possess a unique ability to combat stress. The HPA (hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal) axis is our stress response system that extends from the brain to the top of the kidneys. It’s a complex feedback mechanism that works by releasing hormones throughout the body in response to environmental stress. 

Chronic stress increases the production of the hormone, cortisol, which is known to suppress white blood cell activity – a critical component of our immune system. In turn, we become more susceptible to inflammation, allergies, low libido, anxiety, and depression.

Adaptogenic herbs work by regulating our adrenal response to stress and physical challenges so that we don’t overproduce cortisol. They also normalize some of the neurotransmitters (ex. dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) involved in the HPA axis. They do this by making the blood-brain barrier more permeable. Which allows the precursors that induce the production of neurotransmitters to pass through easily. This way adequate amounts are produced naturally. 

Common adaptogens to use are: 

  • Ashwagandha 
  • Ginseng 
  • Tulsi 
  • Maca
  • Rhodiola 

These powerfully potent herbs have a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. You can find them in powdered form to mix with water or into your smoothies. As well as in the form of tea.


4. Cook with digestive spices.

Spices are found in the root, seed, bark, berry, and flower of plants. They are not only delicious but also tremendously beneficial to our immune system. Many spices have the power to block chronic inflammatory pathways in the body. These are the pathways that lead to long term diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimers. The spices work by interrupting the formation of harmful colonies of cells.

If we look at other cultures, the rate of those affected with cancer is three times less in India than in the United States. Indians are notorious for consuming large amounts of spices daily. 

Spices also aid in digestion by their ability to help produce bile and calm indigestion-causing bacteria. When the body isn’t working so hard to digest food, energy is cleared to heal. Our immune cells can move to areas of the body where their help is needed.

Common spices that are easy to incorporate into our diet are: 

  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cayenne peppers
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon 
  • Oregano

They work great in desserts, juices, salad dressings, and more!

5. Get enough sleep. 

While we sleep, our bodies are hard at work repairing and restoring the whole time. Without at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night, our immune system suffers. Certain types of little messenger proteins, cytokines, peak in production during nocturnal hours. Because they are the immune system’s communicators, we need all the cytokines we can get to keep our immune response strong and optimal. 

To paint a small picture of what is at work here, the cytokines are helping our bodies grow new cells, repair harmed cells, direct cell traffic, and destroy target cells. 

Sleep also aids in our immune system’s memory. Memories of foreign invaders and our response to them are formed and stored in the immunological memory bank. When we stop getting enough sleep, this crucial time for healing and memory formation is lost. We become more susceptible to getting colds, viruses, and other infections in the future.

One way to get more sleep is to keep our phones out of the bedroom at night. There are numerous studies on the negative effects of the blue light from your phone before bed. We can also establish a healthy nighttime routine that involves turning off electronics, reading, and taking a few deep breaths while lying in bed. Yoga Nidra is an excellent resource for better sleep as well. 

6. Exercise and sweat it out.  

The last way to boost immunity that we’re going to talk about is sweating. Get outside, move around, and work up a sweat. The benefits are incredibly supportive to the immune system.

The barrier of the skin is our first line of defense against pathogens. It keeps them from entering the bloodstream. The sweat glands found on the skin secrete a wide range of antimicrobial compounds that stop harmful microbes from hanging around. 

For instance, during exercise, we release a specific antimicrobial peptide that is salty and slightly acidic. These properties kill any microbes they come in contact with, essentially causing them to explode. Sweat’s main role is to regulate our skin’s microbial flora. It kills the bad guys. Hence, sweat’s “detoxing” effect. All the more reason to get out there, and start working up a sweat. 

Remember diversity is key. 

The immune system has a remarkable ability to reboot and begin functioning optimally if we give it the fuel it needs. With these six ways, there is no doubt we can begin to feel better. We may find ourselves happier, more energized, mentally sharp, have clearer skin, and prevent ourselves from future diseases. 

You can check out my cookbook, Heal and Ignite: 55 Raw, Plant-Based, Whole-Food Recipes to Heal Your Body, and Ignite Your Spirit. It’s full of fun, easy, and delicious ways to create probiotic-rich foods right at home as well as how to use digestive spices. 

We eat to fuel the mind, body, and spirit. We can start to see our immune system as a reflection of our connection to spirit and life on earth. 

It’s a beautiful, complex dance. And quite easy to maintain when we step into the rhythm of life. 

Blog post written by Jordyn David


Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health#section2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160565/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5785894/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684748/

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Get the Glow

Get the Glow

During the summer, we take good care of our skin. Exposed to the world, we soak up much needed vitamin D from the sun and sweat away toxins. Come winter, our skin gets covered, layer upon layer and we tend to forget about the most important layer of all. We are bombarded by advertising that focuses on adding products to the skin to aid in its regeneration, however the most effective way to nourish healthy skin is through a nutrient-dense diet. Many of us miss the connection between what we eat and the way our skin appears. Just as our internal organs receive nutrients from what we eat, so does our skin, the largest organ of all.

There are many daily practices that can help improve skin quality. By using mild, natural soaps, ingredient-conscious sunscreens and moisturizers, as well as practicing gentle exfoliation, we can aid the body in the regeneration of skin cells. When combined with a nutrient-dense diet and plenty of hydration, these habits help keep skin looking healthy and supple, but none benefit us as profoundly as the food we eat. It’s true that healthy skin begins from the inside out.

Here is a list of foods sure to get your skin glowing in no time …

Cilantro and basil chelate heavy metals, helping to rid the body of toxins.

High amounts of enzymes are present in tropical fruits, such as mangoes, papayas and pineapples, allowing our digestive system to function optimally and free up energy that could be used to heal and replenish the skin and other organs. They are rich in antioxidants, which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Dark leafy greens, tropical and citrus fruits are high in vitamin C as well as beta-carotene, which helps generate vitamin A in the body. Vitamin C aids the synthesis of collagen, keeping skin supple and firm and improves the skin’s water retention, which keeps it softer, and wrinkle-free. Vitamin A regulates cell renewal and skin revitalization, replacing old skin cells with new ones.

Kale and spinach contain phytonutrients (plant chemicals) that fight inflammation and protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays.

Beets cleanse the blood of impurities and revitalize our red blood cells, supplying fresh oxygen to the body. The health of your blood is reflected in beautiful skin.

Walnuts, pecans and other nuts and seeds contain vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids that assist in the health of the cell membrane for radiant skin.

Kelp and other seaweeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. They survive extreme conditions and adapt to changing environments. This resilience and restorative ability makes seaweed pure skin food.

And water. Drink plenty of water.

Read the original publication HERE

Recipes

5 Secret Health Benefits of Seaweed (The Great Grandmother of All Superfoods)

Dr. Ann's Energy Soup

They say water is life, and you better believe that the ocean is chock-full of everything that will support life. There was a time when seaweed was regarded as nothing but, well, weeds – the kind that you remove so that other life forms are supported.

Seaweed Benefits: Superfood

This nuance better change fast as the once lowly seaweed is out to let the world know how power-packed and nutrient-dense they are, they deserve to be called Superfood.

  • Seaweed is a rich source of iodine, a nutrient usually missing from our food. Iodine is needed to regulate the thyroid, a gland found in the neck, if that is deficient in a diet may result to lethargy, irregular weight gain or loss, goiters and even impaired memory.
  • Seaweed is also found to be an abundant resource for trace minerals necessary for our bodies to maintain healthy functions. It contains minerals such as chromium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron.
  • Similarly, studies indicated algae varieties, including Spirulina and Chlorella can help clear the body from radiation. Radiation negatively affects the brain, heart, GI tract, and the reproductive and circulatory systems.
  • Seaweed also supports the maintenance of a healthy weight as it is nutrient dense but of low caloric content and high in dietary fiber; which curbs appetite, prevents overeating and reduce fat absorption.
  • Seaweed is identified to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, as well as polysaccharides which counteract degenerative diseases.

The term seaweed encompasses a variety of types of algae and marine plants. It must be known that there are different species, with distinct flavors and nutrient contents. Below is a list of just SOME of the most famous seaweeds available in the market, and recipes to highlight these Superfoods.

Nori

The mainstream seaweed, Nori became a household name, thanks to miso soup and sushi. Dark green and salty, and often presented dried or toasted into sheets, it is said to have 10 times more calcium than milk and is packed with minerals, and vitamins.

Dulse

The bacon of the sea, Dulse gives you all the smoky good taste of bacon when fried. The only difference is that Dulse is actually good for you. Reddish brown and may resemble a jerky it is usually ground and sprinkled on salads and soups. It is nutrient-dense with vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants.

Kelp

Another green-colored seaweed, Kelp has a fresh, slightly salty flavor and a jellylike texture. One way of consuming kelp is by making it into noodles, a perfect substitute for pasta and noodle soup dishes, and requires no cooking. It is a natural source of vitamins and minerals, supports metabolism, and keeps skin and hair healthy.

Hijiki

Has a dark brown color, tart taste, and is being sold as dried strips, Hijiki is rich in trace minerals and dietary fiber, aiding digestion, promotes better sleep, and prevents calcium and iron deficiency. It is prepared by soaking in water and gives a nautical kick to salads.

Wakame

Green and has a sweet and slightly salty taste, Wakame has the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids among the seaweeds. High in anti-oxidants, protein and iodine, it fights cancer, tumors, and heart diseases. Wakame as a culinary ingredient is featured in savory stir fries, soups and salads.

A list of recipes is provided below which uses these identified superfoods to fuel each one of us into a nourishing and vibrant lifestyle.

[RECIPES]

Dr. Ann’s Energy Soup

Seaweed Recipe: Dr. Ann’s Energy Soup

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of baby greens (kale, spinach, romaine)
  • 1 cup of green sprouts (broccoli or sunflower)
  • 1 cup of sprouted legumes (lentil, garbanzo)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 apple
  • 4 tbsp of seaweed – dulse or nori
  • 2 ½ cup water
  • ½ inch ginger
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Sliced lemon for garnish

Procedure:

  • In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients until it becomes smooth and creamy. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
  • It may be eaten warm (blend for 4 minutes) or room temperature (blend for 1-2 minutes)

Save the Sea Pate

Seaweed Recipe: Save the Sea Pate

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp hemp oil
  • 5 carrots chopped
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp gf tamari
  • 2 tbsp dulse
  • Half a thumb of ginger, minced
  • A pinch of pink salt

Procedure:

  • Process the harder vegetables first, then add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
  • Taste as you go, you may want to add more coconut aminos (umami), extra virgin olive oil (fat), or lemon juice (sour).

Tangy Ginger Kelp Noodle Soup

Seaweed Recipe: Tangy Ginger Kelp Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 4 tbsp miso paste
  • Half a fresh serrano chili, seeds removed and minced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos or gf tamari
  • 1 package of kelp noodles, cut with kitchen shears
  • A handful of cilantro
  • A handful of chopped scallions
  • A handful of sprouted lentils
  • The juice from a lime
  • A drizzle of hot sauce

Procedure:

  • Combine chili, garlic and ginger with 1 cup of water in a high speed blender.
  • In a separate bowl, soak the kelp noodles in boiling water, then drain when soft.
  • In another bowl, stir in miso paste with the remaining boiling water to dissolve.
  • To create a broth, add the rest of the water, and the chili, garlic and ginger mixture.
  • Pour the broth over the noodles and top with freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.
  • Finish with a squeeze of lime and your favorite hot sauce.

Read the original publication HERE

How Raw Food Affects Your Body

Organic vegetables on rustic dark wood background.Vegan food concept. Green veggies.

Eating raw and choosing organic is a concept not completely understood by a great portion of the population, but when you get to the core of the subject, it’s is pretty simple.

Eating raw and choosing organic is the only sustainable way for us to exist while keeping our bodies healthy and the earth healthy not just for us, but for the next generation too.

Heating and cooking food over 118 degrees Fahrenheit (or 47 degrees Celsius) affects its nutritional content. It diminishes the nutrients and enzymes, which are necessary for our bodies to function well and defend us from diseases. Water soluble vitamins such as B and C are especially sensitive to heat, whereas proteins and minerals can withstand more cooking.

Enzymes are protein molecules that become biological catalysts that aids the human body to breakdown, digest and absorb vitamins and minerals within the food that we eat. Our bodies also produce enzymes, but these diminish as we age, thus the need to consume more raw foods containing live enzymes to make it easier for our body to maximize the nutrients from food.

Further, consuming raw foods safeguard the proper pH of our bodies, which can be done by ensuring our body has a healthy acid-alkaline balance. When the body is acidic, it is more susceptible to illness – our immunity is impaired which can escalate into serious health conditions like heart disease and cancers. It affects different areas of our body including our blood, hormones, bones and joints, digestive, and excretory systems, among others.

Meanwhile, raw foods, especially leafy green vegetables, and even some fruits are alkaline in nature, which are responsible for increased stamina, improved immunity, better digestion and in effect, weight loss. Consuming raw foods is one of the easiest ways to maintain the body’s delicate pH balance, which is easily distorted by acidic foods.

Raw Food: How It Should Be Used to Have Healthy Body

One might start thinking though, if it’s just the rawness of the food that we are after why must it be organic too? Organic is a choice you make that does not only nourish your body but in the bigger picture nurtures the whole planet, ensuring sustainability.

In commercial agriculture, the soil degrades due to the high amount of pesticides and other chemicals used when planting fruits, vegetables, and crops, making it less conducive for cultivation in the future. Worse, these chemicals are absorbed into the foods themselves, and once ingested, these become a part of us too. In small amounts, these chemicals might not ‘hurt’ us, but as these chemicals accumulate in the body, they can become toxic.

On choosing organic, and which food contains the most chemicals, this list guide called “The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” is a resource that would be useful when stocking up your pantry. This is a good place to start whether you are transitioning to a raw, plant-based and organic food diet.

The Dirty Dozen

  • apples
  • celery
  • sweet bell peppers
  • hot peppers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • nectarines
  • grapes
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • potatoes
  • kale and collard greens

The Clean Fifteen

  • Raw Food: How It Should Be Used to Have Healthy Bodypapaya
  • onions
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • avocado
  • cabbage
  • sweet peas
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • eggplant
  • kiwi
  • cantaloupe
  • sweet potatoes
  • grapefruit
  • mushrooms

Read the original publication HERE

 

Reference:
https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

How to Build Immunity Naturally through Medicinal Mushrooms. {Recipe}

reishi

The next time we take a hike in the forest, we can imagine that beneath us is a complex underground system of micro-fungi that weaves in and out of the soil below, flowing into countryside and city parks alike.

We’ll look closely among the moss-laden cedars and ferns, and expect to see all kinds of mycellium growing. The fascinating thing about medicinal mushrooms is their ability to make life out of death and that the life created becomes powerful and potent in its synergistic relationship with human consumption. Touted for their functional medicinal uses in Traditional Chinese medicine, the intelligent fungi species has fascinated and amused scientists and nutrition gurus for centuries.

Believe it or not, there are more than 200 species of mushrooms that have medicinal properties. Modern medicine likewise recognized these therapeutic qualities; mushrooms were reported to contain anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory characteristics. David Wolfe included medicinal mushrooms in his list of the top “superfoods” stating that it is rich in polysaccharides and beta-glucans which enhances the immune system.

The main effect of consuming medicinal mushroom either included in food or taken as a medicine is improving the immune system by ensuring T Helper cells, “arguably the most important cells in adaptive immunity.” Anti-cancer properties also manifest as cancers mainly attack a weakened immune system.

Listed below are just a small sample of the many species of magical, medicinal mushrooms. The best thing about discovering the power of medicinal mushrooms is a new-found passion to get into the kitchen and experiment with delicious new recipes.

Reishi. Found in Asia—specifically China, Korea and Japan—Reishi mushroom was given the title Queen of Mushrooms. It comes in a reddish-brown color, tough and woody, and has a bitter taste. Also known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, this mushroom is more likely to be consumed as a supplement in powder or tincture form, instead of culinarily. It contains beta-glucans which boosts the immune system, and polysaccharides which fight cancer and inhibit growth of tumors, it also is said to be an anti-inflammatory, lessen allergic reactions and protects the liver. We’re more likely to use this in a tea as they are strictly a medicinal mushroom.

Chaga. Gaining the title King of Medicinal Mushrooms, it grows in geographically cold climates. It grows on birch trees, and resembles a dark, cracked wood more than a mushroom in appearance. It is said to have an appealing taste and is prepared in powder form and is consumed as a tea. It has soothing properties, improves immune system functions and anti-oxidant properties. Chaga is said to be the most potent adaptogen, which fights stress, diseases and even aging. Betulinic acid extracted from the birch bark is found in Chaga is said to impede malignant tumors from growing. We can see them growing in Northern Canada and areas all over North America where birch trees grow. Keep your eyes out, you may find a Chaga. You may harvest without destroying the tree, so it is sustainable.

Shiitake. One of the most well known mushrooms, shiitake is being used culinarily, especially in Asian cuisine. Originally grown in Japan, it is now being cultivated worldwide. It has a light brown color and has a soft, spongy texture with a woodsy and meaty flavor. Shiitake contains eritadenine, also called lentinacine, a naturally occurring substance which reduces blood cholesterol by encouraging the body to absorb it. Shown to have anti-oxidants, it protects the liver, controls inflammation and has properties that are said to prevent tumor and cancer development. Steamed Shiitake mushrooms are so yummy in miso soup with a few chopped scallions and torn up nori, a nutrient-dense seaweed.

Maitake. Another Japanese mushroom called Hen of the Woods, Maitake resembles the feathers of a fluffed chicken. It grows at the base of oak trees in hardwood forests of Japan and China, but is now also cultivated in Europe and Northeastern parts of the U.S. and Canada. A culinary mushroom, Maitake is intensely flavored and does not have the same squeaky texture of mushrooms. Maitake is said to have the ability to regulate glucose levels and blood pressure, as well as enhance immunity. It is said that Maitake triggers apoptosis of cancer cells (cancer cell suicide) and impedes development of tumors. That’s pretty awesome.

Cordyceps. A medicinal fungus that is grown in China, Tibet and Nepal, they grow from caterpillars, and other insects and arthropods, but a vegan variety may be grown from agar-agar (a type of seaweed). It has a yellowish and tube-shaped appearance, it became known in the international scene when two Chinese runners broke world records, claiming that Cordyceps was the source of their remarkable athleticism and endurance. It can be used as a tonic or mixed into cooking, Cordyceps clears the respiratory system, stops bleeding, increases energy, prevents stress and lethargy, and promotes longevity. It is also an effective anti-inflammatory and natural cancer treatment.

Lion’s Mane. A type of fungus that looks exactly as it name suggests, Lion’s Mane is white to beige-colored fungi with a meaty texture and a mild flavor. Used as a culinary ingredient as well as a supplement in powdered form, it has a long history of use in Chinese medicine. Lion’s Mane is popular for its memory-boosting effects, and stimulating the nervous system. It likewise improves the immune and digestive system. It is said to be a natural anti-depressant and controls high cholesterol.

Turkey Tail. Also known as Trametes, it has been used in Asia for thousands of years. It has multiple-colored bands that resembles the tail feathers of a wild turkey. With a neutral to slightly sweet taste, it is prepared in tea form, tinctures and extract. U.S. FDA, NIH, Bastyr and the University of Washington collaborated on a research that studies the effects of consuming this medicinal mushroom when combined with chemotherapy in prostate cancer patients. It is reported to be capable of regenerating bone marrow, strengthening the immune and respiratory system, and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Remember our friends Mario and Luigi? The Super Mario Brothers hunted mushrooms to get stronger, bigger and jump higher. We thought it was just a quirk in a video game, but who would’ve thought that mushrooms truly do give you superpowers!

***

Below are recipes that you can make at home, highlighting our featured superfood: medicinal mushrooms. This tea/latte recipe is anti-viral and super immune boosting, perfect for cold and flu season. Beat the winter blues before they get to you!

Royalty Tea
Ingredients:
1 tsp Chaga powder or a whole lump of Chaga
1 tsp Reishi powder or a few slices of Reishi
1/2 tsp Ho Shu Wu powder
1 tsp Cat’s Claw bark
1/2 of a Vanilla bean
A few cacao beans
6 cups water

Procedure:
To make the tea, bring the above ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes on low. Strain and gather tea in a mason jar, using some for the latte and saving some for another latte later on.

Royalty Latte
Ingredients:
1 cup of soaked cashews (soaked at least 8 hours and rinsed)
2 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp vanilla powder
3 cups Royalty Tea

Procedure:
Blend on high in a high-speed blender for two minutes or until warm. Add more warm water as desired.

Notes:
You may re-boil the tea mixture up to eight times. So, don’t discard it. I typically re-boil immediately and then save the extra liquid with the ingredients still inside it in the fridge. That makes it easy to re-boil each morning to make a new pot of tea.

Read the original publication HERE

 

Resource Links and Further Reading:

6 Ways Mushrooms can Save the World.

Mushrooms Good for Health by Andrew Weil, M.D.

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms

Longevity Now: A Comprehensive Approach to Healthy Hormones, Detoxification, Super Immunity, Reversing Calcification, and Total Rejuvenation
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Author: Danielle Arsenault

Image: Flickr/Wendell Smith

Editor: Travis May

How to Successfully Navigate Through a Healthy Holiday Season

How-to-Successfully-Navigate-Through-a-Healthy-Holiday-Season-featured

Halloween, Thanksgiving and then it’s Christmas and New Year’s. The last three months of the year are when the festivities start. We connect with friends and gather with family to share in the holiday cheer.

For as long as we have cultivated the soil, we’ve become accustomed to celebrate these festivities through food. From the trick or treat loot, to stuffing ourselves with Thanksgiving dinner, by the time we get to a Christmas day feast and an end-of-year merry-making, we’ve most likely already bit off more than we should have chewed. With the holiday cheers comes the over-consumption of food, and usually not the most healthy choices. Our New Year’s resolutions will predictably be something about getting back on the fitness and health bandwagon now that we’ve had our annual fix of indulgence.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can remain mindful of our nourishment while creating hearty meals.

During the holiday season, the changes in the environment coincides with the changes in our body, and it is just a matter of intuitively listening to what our body demands to keep it in balance. As our bodily needs change in the colder months, so does the earth as it provides an abundance of produce needed to get through the coldest season. Grounding root vegetables and grains, combined with spices and warming oils invite hearty soups and stews to warm the chill from our bones, and keep our energies centered.

As it gets colder, favor a warm breakfast by infusing some of the following recipes into your meals. Make a home-made chai tea, or a steaming miso soup. Healthy, hearty, and rich in warming and drying “yang” – exactly what is needed to keep our bodies balanced during the colder months. This spicy herbal tea can improve the circulatory system and likewise relax weary winter muscles.

On the other hand, salads and raw foods, which I normally crave and lean towards, are “yin”, these tend to cool down the body, so it is suggested not to consume much of these when chilled, especially since these are also mostly out-of-season too at this time.

You may find yourself seeking more rest, we are naturally programmed to be in a hibernation mode during the winter months. As we try to recharge and find balance through rest, it is also essential to get moving and do some exercise to keep our internal fire ignited, stay happy and avoid lethargy or seasonal affective disorder.

An activity suited to build some body heat during the winter time is yoga. Yoga builds heat, gets the lymph system moving and realigns our mind and body to relax and find balance. On milder days, a hike to the woods or the mountains, or even a walk around the park, are good ways to get your cardio going, and at the same time commune with nature and enjoy the crisp, fresh air that the winter season brings.

Recipes to Keep You Warm During Winter

Chai Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup loose rooibos tea
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • ½ tsp star anise powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Procedure:

  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in a mason jar until ready to drink.
  • Add 1 tbsp to a tea strainer and steep for 5 minutes.
  • Mix with fresh, homemade cashew/hemp milk.

Cashew / Hemp Milk Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked for 2 hours and rinsed
  • ¼ cup hemp hearts
  • 3.5 cups water
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp coconut nectar or maple syrup

Procedure:

  • Drain the cashews, rinse well and put in the blender along with the hemp hearts, sweetener and nutmeg. Add only 1 cup water and blend with less water in the beginning to make a smoother paste. When smooth, add the remaining water and blend until frothy.

Wild Forest Mushroom Miso Soup

Ingredients:

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 cups of mushrooms (use a variety), chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp miso paste, mixed with 2 tbsp of warm water
  • A drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • Chopped chives or scallions for garnish
  • Pink salt and pepper
  • 1 cup water

Procedure:

  • Using a wide soup pot, saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil and season well with pink Himalayan salt and pepper.
  • Cook well, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their water and have a deep earthy flavor and beautiful brown color (about 8 minutes).
  • Remove from the pot and set aside.
  • Stir in the tamari and and miso paste and simmer.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes to combine all the flavors.
  • Drizzle with sesame oil and add a bit more tamari if your broth is lacking salt.

Serve this deeply warming soup with a bowl of brown rice (add the rice to the bowl if you want a heartier soup) and sprinkle with fresh chives or scallions and a little extra cracked pepper if you’d like.

Read the original publication HERE

Wild Forest Mushroom Miso Soup recipe adapted from The Kitchens of Pinch and Dash, Hibernate issue.