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Should You Worry About Hormones In Your Food?

Hormones are chemicals that our bodies produce to regulate the activity of cells. Hormones are also found naturally in food and balancing our hormones is an important part of managing our mood, metabolism, and sleep patterns.

Some of the most important hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Estrogen is the hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle and helps to maintain a woman’s bone density. It also has some role in brain development, mood, and memory. Progesterone is necessary for maintaining pregnancy and for regulating the menstrual cycle. Testosterone is responsible for male sexual characteristics and muscle development.

Vegetables contain estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, which are plant-based sources of estrogen that mimic its effects in the body. Soybeans are a major source of phytoestrogens in our diets; they contain compounds called isoflavones that bind to estrogen receptors on cells throughout our bodies.

However, not all hormones are created equal. Many are hesitant to eat food that has been artificially modified, or injected with hormones.

The use of hormones in cows has been a controversial topic for decades now, with the main reason being that they are used at low levels to increase milk production. It has been shown that these hormones are safe and effective in increasing milk production, which makes them a good option for farmers looking to maximize their profit margins. The use of hormones in cows has been banned in Europe since 1989. Despite that, the US is one of the few countries that still allows it.

However, it has been found that these hormones can increase the risk of cancer in humans.

A study was done on over 13,000 women who were breast cancer survivors and the results showed that those who consumed high amounts of hormone-treated milk had a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence.

As for Chicken and Pork, is it illegal to use growth hormones within the US. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

Soy, which is naturally high in estrogen, has also been the subject of much research and study, with the majority of studies indicating that soy consumption has a positive effect on health.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that soy consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Another study found that soy consumption is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.

So what’s the verdict, are hormones in food good or bad?

Our answer is complicated. We certainly think naturally occurring hormones are unavoidable, as almost every food has some trace amount of hormones. But artificially injected hormones may not be the healthiest solution for our bodies, the animals, or our ecosystem as a whole. The best solution is still to stick to organic, hormone-free, and sustainably raised livestock.

We take all of this into consideration when we curate our recipes, or stock our grab-and-go coolers. At Intelligent Gourmet, we always use Free-range, Organic, Hormone-free, and Locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. From our prepared-to-order dishes to our standard provisions including organic eggs, butter, milk, and plant-based milk alternatives, we value the quality of the options we provide because we believe they taste better and are better for us.

Boost Your Willpower Before Thanksgiving

Can you resist the urge for the delicious spread that comes with Thanksgiving and Winer Holidays? But once November hits, we feel the Holiday pounds ready to pounce. Maybe it is the leftover Halloween candy, the coziness of fall fixings, or that we know the meals of Thanksgiving and the Winter Holidays are just around the corner. If you can free your brain chemistry from its’ dependence on refined sugars and processed carbs, it is possible to look at a delicious Thanksgiving table without wanting to eat all of it. As for the secret, it is not so much self-control, but learning how to help your body work better.

Blood sugar, brain chemistry, and hormones all influence our abilities to make good or bad food choices – but once you understand that these physiological factors are responsible, you have the power to stay on track with your goals. Ever notice how your self-control is great at 8 AM in the morning, but weak at 8 PM at night? …that is completely normal. Like any muscle, your resolve wears out over the course of the day. And, studies have shown that if you exercise self-control over too many areas of your life at once, you’ll lose it faster. For the holidays this year, we suggest not trying to be ‘too good’, but try being ‘better.’ Here are some ways to help you do that:

Boost Your Will-Power Before Thanksgiving

  1. Do a mini-cleanse: Either, do a three-day juice cleanse or, avoid all starches, alcohol, and processed foods. The goal is to clean out your system of unhealthy fuels that spike the desire to eat unhealthy foods. Stick with vegetables, nuts, and legumes for at least three days and you’ll feel better and be able to say no to seconds on that piece of pie.
  2. Keep your blood sugar steady with small meals and protein-rich snacks (we suggest nutrition-packed superfoods, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, and pistachios). Even a small dip in blood sugar can tip you over into losing control.
  3. Start off on the right foot each day by exercising first thing in the morning, followed by a “clean” breakfast (egg white omelet with spinach is one of my favorites). By lunchtime, you’ll probably want to keep the positive momentum going with a great salad.

The holidays do not have to be a time where you give up on your health goals. Nor, does it mean that you cannot enjoy a feast with friends and family either. You can have both by making some smarter and healthier choices leading into the holiday season.

Warming Up to Healthy Eating- Lentil Soup

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Was last night the sixth holiday party we just attended? Yes, it surely was. Or perhaps it was the thirteen. I’ve lost count. While I relished every last friend, holiday/new year wish, hors d’oeuvre, cookie & cocktail with gusto, I am now carried away to a more sensible space. Here in Florida it’s a sometimes cold place we call January.

If you are like us and many others, who have spent the last month stuffed with stuffing and tipsy with holiday cheer, January brings with it a promising opportunity for replenishment, balance, and the only way to do that is by giving your body everything it needs to thrive. Lots of healthy foods and vegetables.

But to go right from cookies to carrots in 0 to 60 seconds seems crazy, we believe the body must be eased back into it’s normal patterns gently and reasonably. No fad diets, or pill will have you looking and feeling your best.

At Intelligent Gourmet, we know it’s not about losing weight – it’s about living your best life. That said, for many of us, part of becoming healthier, happier people involves undoing some of the less-great decisions of the last several weeks and, yes, losing weight. Unfortunately, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight (though one diet claims otherwise)

What matters is keeping your nutrition high, your calories controlled, and your exercise up!

Try working your way back into some better eating habits with a healthy soup packed with protein and vegetables. Here we share with you a recipe for a very versatile lentil soup that you can easily adapt to your families personal preferences and pantry inventory:

Ingredients

  • 1 # package of dried lentils (You can use any kind you like, red, green, brown and black beluga)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, (small diced)
  • 1 large carrots, (small diced)
  • 2 ribs of celery (small diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 12 oz package of winter squash cubes (available at most grocers)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • 4-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 hand full of your favorite greens chopped, (kale, spinach, mustard, or chard)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Start my heating some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over moderate heat, (you do not want the olive oil smoking) Add the chopped, carrot, celery and onion and allow these vegetable to sauté slowly about 8 – 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent add in your chopped garlic, salt and spices, stir and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add in your winter squash cubes of choice and toss to combine.
  3. Add 4 cups of your stock ( chicken or vegetable depending on if you are making this vegan or not), and bring to a boil.
  4. Add in your raw lentils ( Lentils do not need to be soaked like other beans but do rinse, Check the cooking time on the package, which can vary from one type to the next. Red lentils cook in as little as 15 minutes while the black ones can take as long as 45 minutes.)
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until lentils are just tender but not mushy, and your squash is soft. (Add additional stock if you want a thinner soup adjust to your liking)
  6. When the lentils are just tender, add the chopped greens. (They’ll only take a minute or two to wilt remove the pot from the burner as soon as the greens are wilted and bright green.)
  7. Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous amount of chopped parsley. Adjust salt if necessary.

CHEF NOTE:

Change up your meal in any one of these 4 ways.

  1. You can trade 1/2 the stock with coconut cream for a creamy flavor.
  2. Season with smoked paprika, a touch of liquid smoke, and a ham bone.
  3. Add in a 14 ounce can of diced tomato for another variation.
  4. Serve with a tablespoon of greek yogurt on top.

IS YOUR GUT MAKING YOU CRAZY?

We Welcome Guest Blogger and Friend Sarah Bingham founder of Fast Food Healing.

Sarah is a licensed nutrition consultant with a master’s degree and more than thirty-five years experience counseling and lecturing on all aspects of nutrition throughout the country. Her current focus is in family nutrition, helping parents recover their children from conditions like autism, ADD, ADHD, asthma and other learning/behavior issues. She is also a dynamic and passionate speaker who communicates with clarity, humor and inspiration the simplicity of achieving wellness.

Sarah works as the Director of Nutritional Programs for Valle Counseling in Tampa, FL. She is a certified GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) practitioner (see www.gaps.me). Sarah is the founder of Fast Food Healing LLC, a personalized in-home nutrition counseling business. Sarah always addresses body, mind and spirit as they are all critical to a healthy body.

Following is an article Sarah shared with us.  Did you know that 80-90% of your neurotransmitters (chemicals that effect your mood and brain function) are created in your gut? Also, the seat of your immune system is in your gut. Hence, that old saying, “I’ve got a gut feeling” is quite accurate. Hence, what research is beginning to put together is if your mood, mind or behavior are off, you have a very good chance of having a gut that is off and a poor immune system.

What do I mean by “off”? Your gut is loaded (about 4 pounds) with good guy bacteria. This good guy bacteria keeps in check the potentially bad guy bacteria that is also present. All of these microbes have important functions, like creating B vitamins, neurotransmitters, and anti-cancer substances. When the good guys are winning, your mood and ability to think are in great shape. Your immune system is also in good shape. But, when the bad guys are winning, you could be suffering from any one of these conditions: Irritable bowel, reflux, ADD, ADHD, asthma, autism, bipolar disease, food allergies and intolerance, depression, dyslexia, autoimmune disease and more.

What causes your gut to become out of balance? Antibiotics, stress, the birth control pill, most prescription drugs and a diet high in processed foods. So, take a mother to be who has eaten a processed diet her whole life, has had a few courses of antibiotics and is now pregnant. Her gut “flora” or bacteria are more than likely out of balance. A baby’s gut is sterile until going through the birth canal. At this point, the baby swallows some of the mother’s vaginal fluid, which is reflective of her gut balance or imbalance. Thus, the baby’s gut is inoculated with either good guy bacteria or bad guy bacteria. And the cycle begins again.

Sometimes it’s easy to bring your gut back into balance using probiotics, lactic acid fermented foods and good whole foods and sometimes it takes a major effort to accomplish a rebalancing of the gut. When I look out at our society with lots of depression, rage, anxiety, immune dysfunction and irritable bowel, I think we all need a major revamping of our gut flora. As Hippocrates said back in 400 BC, “All disease begins in the gut.”

love your gut

Fun Zone

Summer is a time for playing outside and embracing your inner child. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little bit of pure fun and treating yourself to a day well spent. Finding joy in life isn’t a chore: it’s one of the reasons we are here!
Curious as to what you might do on one of these days out and about for a healthy yet free-spirited time? Perhaps you’ll enjoy what the sunshine has to offer (with sunscreen of course!) by playing Frisbee with friends at your local park. Or maybe you’ll let yourself take in a cup of frozen yogurt (I recommend Pink Berry) on a particularly hot and mellow afternoon while you’re doing errands. Or treat yourself to a dollop of Greek yogurt with a handful of berries, sliced mango and sunflower seeds – those are good fats too, when used sparingly.
Now get out there and live!
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SUMMER MATH

Sometimes you add ideas to your diet, sometimes you subtract (and when it comes to kale, you always multiply!). For summertime, there are a few nutritional “must-add” and definitely some “take-aways” to keep yourself healthy and in perfect working order:  

Additions: 

Water, Water, Water

Staying hydrated come summertime is vital to your health and wellbeing. Remember, your body is a graceful, gorgeous temple…that also houses more water than anything else. Replenishing yourself frequently will help keep your energy high, your spirits higher, and even allow you to sleep better at night.

GMO – Free

Look for foods that are not genetically modified organisms. A GMO has genetic material from unrelated organisms – like a fish gene in a tomato (um, weird). In theory, GMO’s breed hardier plants by helping them resist drought and pests. But what GMO’s do to humans over a long period of time is not known. Wait until you know the facts before you buy into the fads.

Subtractions:

Faux wheat

Yes, pure wheat and whole grains can be good for you (if you’re not gluten intolerant). But not everything labeled as “wheat” is truly made from wheat. In fact, wheat bread is generally made from white flour, and thus the same as eating Wonderbread. Anything can be labeled as wheat if the flour used comes from the wheat plant. Check your label for the ingredients list and if it contains the words “wheat flour” or anything “enriched” or “blanched” pass over it. Instead go for a 100% whole -grain like Ezekiel or Sunflower bread, and look for the terms “100% pure” and “organic whole grains.”

Fat Free

No, really. Anything fat free is to be avoided, unless it’s naturally made so. If fat is removed, so is flavor…which means food manufacturers added artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar to make it taste decent. The exception here is natural fats, or “good fats” as they’re often called. Nosh on avocados or nuts guilt free.

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