The Importance of Iodine (and why you may not be getting enough)

Iodine rich foods, like fish

When the U.S. Government began recruiting troops en masse for World War I, the physical exam doctors started noticing a pattern: young men from the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions frequently had visibly swollen necks. They nicknamed the region “The Goiter Belt” and quickly discovered the link between the low iodine content in the soil and the increase in thyroid problems (which caused the goiters). On May 1st, 1924, the first container of iodized table salt was sold commercially, and by that fall, Morton Salt Company began distributing it nationally.

Iodine is a mineral found in many foods, including produce grown in iodine-rich soil, animals who eat food grown in iodine-rich soil, and seafood, including fish, shellfish and seaweed. We need very little for our bodies to produce the hormone thyroxin, which is necessary to maintain the metabolism (and thyroid). Even though it’s relatively easy to have enough iodine in your diet, the World Health Organization reports that iodine deficiency is rising in America with more than 2 billion people at risk! Considering thyroxin affects behavior, metabolism, libido, cognitive functioning, and susceptibility to cancer and disease – it’s vitally important to make sure you get those 150 micrograms every day.

Not sure if you’re deficient? There’s an easy test: take regular drug-store red iodine and smear it on a one-inch patch of skin. If you’re still seeing red after 2 days, you’re fine. If it disappears, you need more in your diet.

Here are my top 3 iodine-rich foods:

  1. Seaweed snacks (also rich in iron)
  2. Himalayan Crystal Salt (gray salt with naturally occurring iodine)
  3. Locally grown organic produce – Florida soil has plenty of iodine!

 

 

Soak Up the Sun – Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Beach Sunset

It’s Memorial Day weekend and I can’t think of a better time to talk about Vitamin D-3 – since we’re all likely to get a good dose of it in the next couple of days! I don’t know about you, but I have Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun” stuck on a loop in my head. It’s good advice. Here’s why we should all take it.

D-Day: Vitamin D vs. D-3

Not all Vitamin Ds are created equal, so if you have milk or juices that say “Vitamin D fortified,” be sure it says which one. The two Vitamin Ds that are important for people are D2 (found in fish, mushrooms, eggs, fortified milk) and D3 (produced by your body when you’re exposed to sunlight). Of the two, Americans are more at risk for Vitamin D3 deficiencies, which can lead to weakened bones, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, and cancer. There has even been research that vitamin D can help in preventing and treating diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D-3 Do’s – or, 5 Great Reasons to Sunbathe

  1. Maintains Calcium Balance in your body – great for bone density!
  2. Helps your cells function and fights cancer (yes, sunlight helps fight cancer)
  3. Gives your immune system a boost (how many colds do you catch in Summer?)
  4. Regulates your blood pressure – there have been studies suggesting D helps hypertension
  5. You can’t overdose from vitamin D 3 gained through sun exposure! But you can if you rely on supplements.

Your own body is the best producer of Vitamin D3 when it’s exposed to UV rays (yes, THOSE rays; the ones your sunscreen blocks!) for as little as 10 minutes a day. No, you shouldn’t go out and get sunburned, but maybe wait until after your first Memorial Day margarita to put on the sunblock.

Now, let’s all go soak up the sun.

Foods to Give Spring to Your Step

Goji berries & cashews

Spring is a time of renewal – but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel run-down from time to time. Fortunately, adding the right nutrients to your diet can help you heal your psyche and your body from the inside out, and there are a few superfoods designed to do just that.

Mind

A healthy mind should be your first priority when dredging yourself up out of exhaustion into stable, positive energy. And the first step is to get those Omega 3 oils in there to support brain function with salmon, walnuts, almonds, and flax seeds. One of my favorite easy recipes is to pan fry salmon and top with ready-made mango salsa, served over a bed of greens. Try it!

Body

In order to feel balanced, your body has to find its own blood-sugar equilibrium. That means you can’t stress-eat carbs! Start your day with a smoothie that has hemp protein powder, yogurt, and your favorite fruits. The hemp protein will slow down the carbs as they run through your metabolism giving you sustained energy without spikes or crashes.

Spirit

Ultimately, health is all about how you feel, and to start feeling great, it helps to give your emotions a boost. Did you know Goji Berries are nicknamed “the Happy Fruit“? It’s one of the top superfoods in the world, not just for making you feel cheerful, but also for its extremely high concentration of antioxidants (which help you look and feel younger and more vibrant). You also need more Vitamin D (we all do); so if you can’t take a long walk on the beach every day, be sure to increase the amount of mushrooms in your diet. Yep, mushrooms are a great source of natural Vitamin D (ironic, since they grow in the dark).

Need a quick boost? Make your own Goji berry and walnut trail mix (maybe with cashews – because cashews are delicious – and dark chocolate chunks for an extra mood enhancer).

Photo by SweetOnVeg on Flickr.

Finding Balance – pH Balance, that is

Zucchini pasta

If you’re reading this blog, you’re into health, and that means you’ve probably heard about pH balance and alkaline diets. But do you know how it works?

Basically, an alkaline diet is one centered around fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Eat enough of these and you tip your body’s pH in the right direction – toward alkalinity. The idea is that disease-causing agents cannot survive in an alkaline environment – and they thrive in an acidic environment brought on by eating too much meat, white carbs, sugars, sodas, and processed foods. When you eat alkaline, you are helping your body heal itself from the inside-out – we’re talking preventing sickness, slowing the aging process, increasing longevity, looking great and feeling even better!

Sound too good to be true? Well, there’s some controversy. Doctors maintain that peoples’ blood maintains its pH no matter what they eat – which is accurate. The body is very good at maintaining stasis (one of the reasons it’s so darn hard to lose weight). Your blood has a “buffer system” in the kidneys to absorb excess acidity, but acidic foods strain that system. Acidic diets, for example, are linked with kidney stones – if you want hard evidence.

To create wellness, the human body should maintain a slightly alkaline pH balance, which ensures that there is adequate oxygen in the blood for cells to function normally. Eating too many acidic foods without balancing them with alkaline foods increases your vulnerability to disease.

You can significantly help your body to maintain optimal health by eating your vegetables, avoiding white carbs, sugars, and processed foods, and exercising. All of those things are highly recommended, not just by acidic v. alkaline dieters, but by every medical professional and dietician on the planet.

My 4 Favorite Alkaline Foods:
1. Limes & Lemons – You might be surprised that an inherently acidic food creates an alkaline environment in your body, but that’s exactly what citrus does. Squeeze lemon or lime juice in your water every day (but be sure to rinse your mouth since eating too much fruit acid can wear away your tooth enamel).
2. Cayenne – Spice up your life by adding a little heat from alkaline cayenne peppers.
3. Garlic – Not only is it alkaline, garlic supports cardiovascular and immune systems, lowers blood pressure, and supports liver function.
4. Root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and leafy greens (like spinach) – These alkaline cancer-fighters will help you feel fit and look great. Just don’t pair them with red meat and pasta.

Read more on how pH balance works.
Find a comprehensive list of alkaline and acidic foods here.