Sunday, 25 November 2012

Chia seeds: The next level SUPERFOOD

  Chia (pronounced “chee-ah”) seeds are collected from a plant that originated in Central America. These seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Since they are seeds and not grains, chia is also a source of protein. However, in my opinion, chia’s claim to fame is definitely their fibre content. In only one tablespoon of chia, there are 5 grams of soluble and insoluble fibre! 

  In addition to not having much of a taste, the above characteristics make chia a fabulous addition to salads, shakes and even things like pancakes. The fibre will work to control blood sugar and promote healthy digestion. Chia kicks muffins up a notch and the seeds can be mixed with water and used as an egg “replacer” in baking! 
Give chia a try!
Fun Fact: Remember Chia pets? Yep, it’s the same chia!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Telling on Twinkies

  The big news on the internet block this weekend has been the closure of Hostess Brands aka the manufacturer of the  proposed apocalypse-surviving Twinkie. Although Twinkie production in Canada will still be ongoing, Saputo Inc. has the right to the product, many Americans mourned their loss of the sugar-filled cake snack with plenty of memes, tumblr posts, and twitter statuses on Friday. But is it really a bad thing that these snacks are soon to be  off the shelf? 

  Let's get real here. First off, were Twinkies ever really THAT good? Yes they gave a nice hit of sugar, but did I ever, or my friends/family, truly crave a Twinkie? Did I ever browse through the shelves and grab a box because I suddenly was reminded how delectable they were? No. Sure they hit the sweet spot occasionally, but I never truly was a fan. Secondly, they are the opposite of a NANS-friendly snack. Packing 150 calories and 18 grams of sugar per Twinkie, they are devoid of any nutritional goodness. 

  With the state of many Americans health right now I don't think they should be mourning this loss, I think they should be thankful it.

- Maggie


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Optimizing Mental Performance

Whether you’re in the thick of midterm season, or just catching your breath before you have to dive into finals, you are probably feeling overloaded—like your brain can’t possibly store one more bit of information. Optimizing focus and mental performance isn’t as huge an undertaking as it might sound. You don’t have to go to the health food store to hunt down a supplement that claims it will turn you into Einstein by using rare extracts from the rain forest. Here are a few proven suggestions that can aid with the cranium crunches:

Get your omega-3s
                I know everyone probably saw this one coming, but I have to mention it. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, concentrated in brain tissue, important for all things neurological, and potentially neuroprotective. Plus, they have far reaching health benefits beyond brain function!

Eat your protein
                Brain enzymes, neurotransmitters, proteins and peptides all need amino acids! Bourre states “The quality of dietary proteins influences the nature and the quantities of cerebral proteins and neurotransmitters.”

Fuel your brain with sugar...
                No wait! I didn’t mean skittles! The brain requires glucose—at rest, the adult brain consumes about 20% of dietary energy. The best thing to do for your brain (and the rest of your body) is to give it a constant, regular supply of energy. That means you should eat foods with a low glycemic index, so that the sugars are released slowly. Avoid crazy spikes and dips in blood sugar.

                Physical activity improves brain function, neurogenesis (yup, making new brain cells!), and memory. Get on that treadmill!

                I won’t even go into detail for this one; we all know how well our brains work after a looooong night. Please sleep.

Works Cited:
Exercise improves memory. Philadelphia Tribune. Sep 16 2007:19-19
van Praag H. Neurogenesis and exercise: Past and future directions. Neuromolecular Medicine. 2008;10(2):128-40
Bourre JM. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: Update on dietary requirements for brain. part 2 : Macronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006;10(5):386-99.