healthy food lifestyle :: 6 :: grains + fiber + juicing + sea veg + supplements

This post is part of a series I am titling "healthy food lifestyle" and it details my philosophy on food as well as the "whys" behind my choices and the practicalities of the way I choose to eat. Read all the posts in this series here.


Not all grains are created equal. Most of us have eaten wheat and rice grain products our whole lives, maybe even oblivious to the fact that there are much more nutritious grains out there. It may be more widely known now that whole grains are what you want to look for when choosing grains. A whole grain is any grain that has not been bleached, striped, or refined and therefore still contains the nutrients of the original grain.

By default, many of us think of wheat when we think grain, however, that really limits you in nutritional variety. Also, in the past several years, there has been a huge "gluten-free" fad. There are certainly people who cannot have gluten (like those with Celiacs), and there are definitely people with gluten intolerances and allergies, and it is not surprising knowing that wheat today contains more than 50 times as much gluten as it did 50 years ago. So, these gluten problems are very real, but unfortunately, this fad has created a bunch of high sugar processed foods that people assume are healthy because they are labeled as gluten-free.  Gluten-free does not automatically mean healthy, and there are lots of other grains out there other than what.


One of my favorite grains is quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, an ancient grain that was eaten by the ancient Incan warriors, and has been come an "it" food in the last several years. Quinoa is a complete protein (it contains all nine essential amino acids). Quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. Since quinoa is such a good source of magnesium, it is good for people with heart disease, as magnesium relaxes blood vessels. Magnesium consumed in the proper amount reduces hypertension, heart disease and heart arrhythmias. Quinoa is fluffy, creamy,  with a slightly crunchy texture and has a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked.

Although quinoa is considered a grain and looks, cooks, and tastes like one, it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. Quinoa can be used in place of pasta, rice, and couscous in any dish. A quinoa salad with vegetables, seeds, and nuts also makes a great main course meal.

Other Grains

Some other grains that are a good alternative to wheat:
  • barley
  • millet
  • kamut
  • amaranth
  • spelt

Fiber is in grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. It is the portion of these foods that we cannot digest. 

Soluble fiber is water-soluble and turns into a gel-like solution in water. It helps to block the absorption of cholesterol, as well as regulate glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, psyllium, ground flax seeds, oats, barley, citrus fruits, and some vegetable.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand is not soluble in water, but performs its own important role in the gastrointestinal tract; it absorbs water, increasing stool size, which speeds elimination. It helps regulate the intestinal tract, helping to prevent constipation and lower the risk of colon cancer. Wheat bran, brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat grains, and some fruits and vegetable contain insoluble fiber.

For the average adult, 20-35 grams of fiber a day is optimal. However, fiber intake must be increased gradually to avoid uncomfortable bloating and gas. High fiber intake also necessitates high water intake; hydration will prevent stool from being too hard from the fiber making it more difficult to eliminate.


A juicer is a kitchen appliance that separates the juices in fruits and vegetable from the fiber in these foods. By “juicing” organic, fresh fruits and vegetables we are able to ingest the water, chlorophyll, enzymes, and nutrients contained in them without our bodies having to first break down and digest the fiber contained in these foods. When the juice is separated from the fiber, we can ingest much more of it without the fiber making us feel full. Also, because there is no fiber to be digested, the enzymes in the juice can go straight into our cells.

Juicing fresh is different from drinking a juice you purchase from the store for many reasons. First of all, many juices that you find in the store are from concentrate. They are not the original pure water and juice from the fruit or vegetable. Secondly, those juices have been sitting on grocery store shelves, albeit refrigerated, but the longer a juice sits after being extracted from its source, the more nutrients are lost. And, to make them shelf stable, most of these juices have been pasteurized. Maybe most alarming, is that most products sold as juice on grocery store shelves do not even contain much juice and are loaded with chemicals and sugar.

Juicing greens is particularly beneficial because the minerals in the green plants are easily absorbed directly into cells. Green juices provide cellular hydration unparalleled by plain water. Starting your day with a glass of fresh juice makes a noticeable difference on how you feel the rest of the day.

An alternative to juicing, is making smoothies in a blender. I am a big fan of juicing to get greens or drinking green smoothies to get your greens.

Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals than any other foods; these dark green vegetables from the ocean are high in vegetable protein, carotenes, chlorophyll, enzymes, amino acids, and fiber. They are the only vegetarian source of B-12, and contain wonderful amounts of calcium, iron, iodine, and potassium. Sea vegetables also contain trace amounts of other minerals that are scarce in many foods because they have been leached from the soil from over farming; these include boron, chromium, and selenium.

In a word, sea vegetables are a super food in the true meaning of the word. Amazingly, our bodily fluids are very close in composition to sea water; in fact, ingestion of seaplant chemical composition promotes internal balance because it is so close in composition to human plasma. Sea vegetables protect us from radiation by binding to heavy metals and chemical pollutants in the gastrointestinal tract and safely eliminating them from the body. Sea vegetables protect against heart disease by dissolving fatty deposits in the cardiovascular system and lowering blood pressure. Sea vegetables are a rich source of vitamins D and K, which assist in the production of hormones such as estrogen and DHEA, which makes sea vegetables great for women especially during menopause. Estrogen production slows during menopause, but ingesting sea vegetables can help the adrenals to continue to produce hormones in a more balanced way. Sea vegetables can assist with underactive thyroids, as well.

Source on Sea Vegetable information:  Page, Linda. Sea Vegetables – Nature’s Healthy Gifts from the Sea. Traditional Wisdom, Inc. 2000


Taking supplements to make up for gaps of nutrition in your diet can be a good idea because it is impossible to get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs from your diet alone. However, when choosing a supplement, selecting a high-quality supplement is of utmost importance. A lot of less expensive, bargain supplements are loaded with chemicals.

Your supplements should consist of whole foods, not chemicals. High-quality supplements may be more expensive, but they are worth every penny. Liquid, whole food supplements are great because your body will absorb them best.

Two great brands of supplements are Nordic Naturals and Udo’s.

Supplements  that may be beneficial to take include:

• a whole/real food multi-vitamin such as Body Balance and True Greens (made by LifeForce International)
• Omega 3s o Flax seed or Flax Oil
• Vitamin E*
• Red Yeast Rice*

*Especially recommended for cardiac rehab patients

Favorite Recipe No. 6

Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls 

A recipe featuring quinoa, which I mentioned above and black beans, which are great for fiber! These bowls are just plain delicious.

{photo courtesy of The Shiksa in the Kitchen}

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