February 22, 2018

Are You Zinc-Deficient?

Zinc is a metallic element essential to human health.  Insufficiency shows up in a myriad of ways.

How many of the following apply to you?

1. Fatigue
2. Reduction in the ability to taste or smellDead smile
3. White spots on finger nails
4. Acne
5. Prostate enlargement
6. Slow wound healing
7. Recurrent infections
8. Hypoglycemia or diabetes
9. Weight gain, stretch marks
10. Indigestion from meats
11. Sensitivity to light
12. Perspire heavily
13. Take oral contraceptive pills
14. Under physical, mental or emotional stress
15. Difficulty conceiving

16. Eat chocolate daily

17.  Disordered eating (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, megarexia, orthorexia,etc.)

18. Depressionhappy pregnant woman or obsessive-compulsive disorder

19. Vegetarian diet


Functions of Zinc in the Human Body

Here are some of the many ways zinc is needed by the body:

1. Digestion. Proteins cannot be digested without enzymes and acids made from this mineral.
2. Fatty acid metabolism. Proper utilization of dietary fats.
3. Sugar metabolism. Insulin requires zinc for its manufacture.
4. Bone health. Zinc is one of many nutrients that keep bones strong enough to resist fracture.
5. Sex hormone synthesis. Low zinc will negatively affect reproductive functions in women and men.
6. Skin and Immune Health. Together with beta carotene, zinc is used to make vitamin A, necessary for wound healing and skin maintenance.
7. Mental Health. Zinc supports neurotransmitter production, which affects our moods, neuro-muscular function and ability to concentrate.

Highest dietary sources of zinc include oysters, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, eggs and meats.????????????????????????????

Assessment of Zinc Status

Warning: blood is not a reliable place to look for this mineral!  Zinc status can be more easily assessed via a ‘taste test”.  All of my clients are entitled to a zinc tally assessment.  This is usually done at the first appointment. If the client fails to detect the correct flavour, the client could benefit from supplemental zinc.  Remember: adequate zinc (for ex., the RDI) does NOT mean optimal! 

Safety of Supplementation

Zinc is one of the safest minerals to take.  Unlike iron, there is no known toxicity for zinc.  However, for optimal well-being,  be sure to take it with food–never on an empty stomach.

What I Found in the Table Salt

Being the nutritionist I am, I read all food labels.  Once in a while there is one that really stumps me.  This time, it was my recent single-serving salad purchase from the grocery store to-go department came with a pre-wrapped package that included a fork, salt packknife, napkin, a packet of pepper and a packet of iodized salt.  Here’s what the salt packet contained on its list of ingredients:

First, the good stuff (sort of):

salt This surprisingly un-specific word should be listed as the first and only ingredient in table salt.  What kind of salt?  Am I to assume it’s sodium chloride? I can only hope it is,  as this is the safest, tastiest sodium compound. I’d rather it not be calcium chloride (road salt, which is not f0od-grade), but we don’ t know here because the salt packaging company has not told us! In chemistry, “salt” does not automatically imply “sodium”.  For example, potassium chloride is technically a salt that happens to taste like sodium chloride, but has a much lower margin of safety. And, things get dangerous when the wrong sodium is used. (For instance, sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic and poisonous compound used to clear clogged drains. ) Eek! I am actually surprised this lack of specificity has flown under the radar of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who will not, understandably, allow the word  “carbohydrate” to be used to hide the type of sugar or starch used in a food product.

potassium iodide:  Don’t panic about this one. This compound is one of the safest ways to provide two essential minerals:  potassium and iodine. You will find it in most multi-vitamin-mineral products, too.  Since its inception as an additive to table salt in the mid-twentieth century, iodized table salt means goitre (a disease of the thyroid gland) and cretinism (mental retardation in children) has nearly eradicated these diseases from western countries.  Verdict: I approve.

Now, the bad news.  If any of the following additives are in your table salt, relegate it to the laundry room and use it as an abrasive sink scrub instead.

yellow prussiate of soda:  It’s also known  as E 535 and by its chemical name: sodium ferrocyanide. You don’t have to be a chemist to see that this compound contains cyanide—the poison used by many fictitious murders!  So why it it in my table salt? As it turns out yellow prussiate of soda kills two birds with one stone. Despite its name, it isn’t there to turn grey salt into yellow salt.  Instead, it acts as a bleaching agent, turning grey salt into the white salt that westerners have come to associate with purity. Secondly, this additive also doubles as a flow agent.  Without it, presumably your salt shaker would get clogged up. Recommendation: Avoid this unnecessary ingredient.

sodium silico-aluminate:  Also known as E554, this additive  is used to prevent caking and clumping. Remember, aluminum is NOT an essential mineral and in fact, the vast majority of chemists will agree it is a toxic metal for the human body. Less of a health concern is silica, a major element in sand and glass and possibly an essential mineral (silicon). Verdict? I’d avoid E554.

And that is what my packet of salt contained. The best way to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful food additives in your salt is to buy sea salt Although there are many varieties of sea salt—pink Himalayan sea salt being one of my favourites—the common thread is that they contain NO additives—not even iodine.  But if you eat any processed foods–that is, canned, frozen, boxed or otherwise pre-packaged edibles—have no fear.  They will give you more iodized table salt than you bargained for.


How to Improve Your Digestion of Beans

In my practice, I meet many individuals whose diets are devoid of beans and lentils because they fear the social consequences should they expel gas in public. From a nutritional standpoint, this is particularly concerning when the client is a vegan because legumes offer the highest protein per serving of any plant-based food.   However, even the currently popular paleolithic diet has many omnivores shunning legumes  bbeansecause their starch content supposedly promotes  fat storage.  No matter what the reason, we can’t deny the fact that legumes are an excellent source of soluble fibre nor its role in maintaining bowel regularity.

Here are a few ways to prepare and obtain the benefits of legumes while limiting their gas-forming potential:

1.If you aren’t accustomed to eating legumes, start with the small ones. Red lentils, green lentils, adzuki beans, mung beans and black-eyed peas are best bets.  Slowly work your way up to the larger beans that have tougher coats (kidney beans, lima beans).

 2. If you are cooking beans from dry, discard the soaking water and replace with fresh water before cooking. Then, rinse them again after they are cooked.

Can of Green Beans3. Before eating them, rinse, rinse and rinse canned beans in a colander/sieve until no foam remains. This foam is created by the gas escaping from the beans! Let them sit in your colander for a few minutes.  If you listen to them carefully, you will hear the gas escaping.

4.  Puree cooked legumes to make  hummus, soups or lentil dahl.  This will release more gas prior to ingestion.

5. Avoid the type of processed bean meal that can’t be rinsed, like those canned ‘pork and beans in tomato sauce’ I used to eat as a child.

6.  Easy does it! Start by using legumes as toppings for a meal rather than sitting down to a big bowl of baked beans. It takes time to foster the intestinal flora that can break down the complex starches in beans. This is critical because the human digestive organs do not manufacture the enzymes that digest some of the carbohydrates found in legumes.

If you find you are still gassy after following the above tips, it may have to do with your current gut ecology–that is, the type of micro-organisms that reside inside of your intestinal tract.  Stinky gas is never a sign of health, so if it smells like a stink bomb, your dietary habits may require the attention of a nutritionist.


Why and How to Cut 500 Calories From Your Day

Drinking a 20-ounce (590 ml) bottle of cola daily for a year without increasing your energy expenditure can result in a gain of 25 pounds.  Before you trade it in for an equal serving size of O.J., realize that the calories are near equivalent and they are all coming from sugars.  The rules of weight loss are simple:  if you are eating more than you need to support your body’s metabolic processes you will gain weight.  But did you know that by eating 500 fewer calories per day, you can lose 1 pound per week?weighty apple measure

Here are 5 easy ways to cut 100 calories from your diet:

1. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise. It doesn’t matter how much you use—you’ll get tired of squeezing the bottle before you have 100 calories of mustard on your sandwich!

2. Avoid ‘candy bars’ (for example, Mars, Snickers, Oh Henry! are all candy bars, disguised as chocolate bars).   Instead, purchase an actual chocolate bar and eat 2 squares of dark chocolate. You will enjoy it more if you eat less of it, and slowly.

3. Use celery sticks instead of crackers or bread when spreading your peanut butter. Again, you will be FULL before you can eat 100 calories worth of celery! (But make sure you stick to the same serving size of PB!)

4. Use stevia in your coffee and tea instead of sugar. Stevia is a plant with sweet tasting leaves that are dried and powdered, then bleached.  Stevia contains zero calories, and it is so sweet that a  little dash goes a long way! If it tastes bitter to you, you’ve used too much. It’s available in handy packets for convenient transportation. (If you plan to bake with it, follow me and watch for tips on how to use it properly, coming soon!).

5. When ordering fast food, avoid the temptation to ‘get a better deal’ by buying the drink-included combo.  Remember, that extra 240 calories comes from sugar! Instead, drink water. Flavour it by adding a drop of pure food-grade peppermint oil, or other essential oil extracts (shake or stir well before drinking).

…you’ve done it! That’s at least 500 calories spared. I bet you aren’t even feeling hungry.

Remember that weight loss should be mainly fat loss. If you want to lose fat, not muscle, be sure to obtain a body composition measurement before you start and once your new lifestyle has been in effect for at least 3 weeks, and then compare your measurements.

Do you have a favourite low-calorie snack? Please leave a comment here.