The Lowdown on Lectins

Written by Bronwyn Cawker

lectins, lectin, legume, paleo, nuts, seeds, grains, grain free, lectin free, plant paradox

Dr. Steven Gundry generated quite a buzz when he released his 2017 book The Plant Paradox. Dr. Gundry hypothesizes that traditionally healthy plant foods high in what are known as lectins can have negative health consequences, hence the paradox. He cites lectins as the root cause of autoimmune disease, inflammation, and leaky gut syndrome and recommends limiting or removing them completely from your diet.

Conversely, Dr. Joel Furhman recommends that lectins should only be avoided in specific cases – by those with specific allergies or conditions that affect intestinal health – not by the population at large. Dr. Furhman notes that the documented benefits of the nutrients, phytochemicals, and fibre in lectin containing foods outweigh any purported negative effects (Furhman, J., 2017).

It’s difficult to know where to stand in the sea of contradictory and controversial information out there. Let’s give you the lowdown on lectins so you can decide for yourself.

What are Lectins?

Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to carbohydrates in the body and interact with human cells. It is believed that lectins serve as a form of natural insecticide for plants to dissuade fungi, insects, and diseases from ravaging them, promoting the plant’s survival (Berg, J.M., 2002).

Approximately 30% of our food contains a significant amounts of lectins (Vojdani, A., 2015). They are often found in foods such as:

  • Grains: wheat, barley, quinoa, and rice;
  • Legumes: red kidney beans, soy beans, and peanuts;
  • Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.

What do Lectins do?

Our digestive enzymes are unable to adequately process lectins, so they travel through the digestive tract largely unchanged. Lectins have been studied for their susceptibility to bind to intestinal cells, which can increase the permeability and porousness of the small intestine – also known as having a leaky gut. Due to this increased porousness, this may allow lectins to enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall where they can cause an inflammatory response in the body (Vasconcelos, I. M., 2004).

With that said, the majority of studies completed on the effects of lectins have used isolated lectins, and have been completed on animals or in vitro (Kelsall, A., 2002). Further study is needed on the interaction of lectin containing foods in the human body.

Should We Avoid Lectins?

Not necessarily. Avoiding large amounts of lectins may be beneficial for those with with gastrointestinal and inflammatory conditions such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases (S., Damgaard, 2014). Yet many lectin containing foods have been studied for their potential disease preventing properties (De Mejía, E. G., 2005). Legumes, nuts, and whole grains are excellent sources of soluble fibre, which is beneficial for digestion, weight management, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels (Kotalik, S.A., 2005). Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes contain carotenoids and phytonutrients that have also shown beneficial effects for our health (Story, E.N., 2015).  

However, consuming a high amount of lectins – often present in improperly cooked or raw beans – can be toxic to humans and cause gastrointestinal effects like flatulence, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The lectin phytohaemaglutinin, which is present in high amounts in raw red kidney beans has even caused multiple cases of food poisoning (Freed, D. L. J.,1999).

The good news is that these effects can be eliminated through utilizing proper cooking temperatures and methods. Health Canada recommends boiling kidney beans for at least 10 minutes, or soaking them for an extended period of time before cooking (Government of Canada, 2011). Below are some cooking methods you can incorporate to minimize and reduce lectins in foods you love, and avoid potential digestive distress.

Cooking Methods:

Soaking:

One of the ways to reduce lectins and other irritating compounds from legumes, nuts, and grains is through soaking. This not only improves digestibility, but decreases their cooking time. Soak beans and grains with 2-3 times their volume in warm water incorporating an acidic medium like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Allow to soak for 12-24 hours at room temperature. Discard the soaking water and rinse thoroughly before cooking.

Utilizing a method from Nourishing Traditions, nuts can be placed into a medium sized bowl with warm filtered water and a bit of salt (1 tsp per 1 cup of nuts). Leave them to soak overnight (7 to 12 hours depending on their size), and thoroughly rinse with water. If you are adding nuts to a smoothie, you can use them right away. However, it is recommended to dehydrate them in a low temperature oven or a food dehydrator until they are completely dry and crisp.

Tip: You can alternatively add baking soda to your soaking water for beans. A 1985 study found that by doing so can reduce some compounds in beans that cause an upset stomach and flatulence (Jood, S., 1985).

Cooking:

Cooking beans from scratch can dramatically reduce their lectin content and improve their flavour. Using an electric pressure cooker is a definite time saver. If you have one on hand it can even eliminate the need to soak your beans beforehand. Refer to Instant Pot’s cooking time and temperature chart as a resource to determine an appropriate pressure cooking time per variety of bean.

Alternatively, you can cook your beans on the stovetop. Following soaking and rinsing, bring your water and beans (generally a 3:1 ratio) to a rapid boil in a large pot. Reduce water to a simmer and cook until tender; anywhere from 1 – 3 hours depending on the variety of bean. Be sure to skim any foam that rises to the surface of the cooking water and discard.

Tip: Adding kombu - a sea vegetable that is rich in minerals like magnesium -  to beans while they’re cooking not only imparts a rich, umami flavour and a nice texture. It may aide in breaking down the fibers of beans, increasing their digestibility.

kombu, seaweed, minerals, lectins, beans

Fermenting:

A 2002 study discovered that fermenting lentil flour for 72 hours in water that was 42 °C showed a 98% reduction in its lectin activity (Cuadrado, C., 2002). Fermentation is one of our oldest methods of processing food. By definition, fermentation happens when the carbohydrates (starch and sugars) in a food item are broken down by microscopic bacteria, molds, or yeasts and transformed into acids, gases, and alcohol. This makes fermented foods easier to digest, and high in beneficial bacteria to contribute to our gut microbiome.

Sourdough bread has seen a huge resurgence in popularity and is often touted as a way to increase the digestibility of bread for those who are sensitive to traditionally refined supermarket loaves. Using wild yeast or a sourdough culture to leaven bread may seem intimidating to the novice cook, but is a very traditional method of preparation that fell by the wayside in the age of industrial food preparation.

Sourdough starters are equal parts flour and water mixed together in a large container and left to ferment at room temperature for approximately 7 days (with subsequent daily additions of flour and water called “feeding”). Once your starter is complete, you can add it into bread recipes.

Tip: Nourishing Traditions has excellent recipes for a starter culture and bread, and The Perfect Loaf has an excellent post on all things sourdough for beginners; it’s definitely a labour of love!

What are your thoughts on lectins? Drop us a line to let us know.

References:

Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. Section 11.4, Lectins Are Specific Carbohydrate-Binding Proteins.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22545/

Cuadrado, C., Hajos, G., Burbano, C., Pedrosa, M. M., Ayet, G., Muzquiz, M., & ... Gelencser, E. (2002). Effect of Natural Fermentation on the Lectin of Lentils Measured by Immunological Methods. Food & Agricultural Immunology, 14(1), 41-49. doi:10.1080/09540100220137655

 Damgaard, S. (2014). Lectin pathway of the complement system is downregulated in Crohn's disease patients who respond to anti-TNF-α therapy | Journal of Crohn's and Colitis | Oxford Academic. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ecco-jcc/article/8/6/521/422330/The-lectin-pathway-of-the-complement-system-is

De Mejía, E. G., & Prisecaru, V. I. (2005). Lectins as bioactive plant proteins: a potential in cancer treatment. Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition, 45(6), 425-445.

Freed, D. L. J. (1999). Do dietary lectins cause disease? : The evidence is suggestive—and raises interesting possibilities for treatment . BMJ : British Medical Journal, 318(7190), 1023–1024.

Furhman, J. (2017). The Real Story on Lectins. Retrieved from https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/eat-to-live-blog/147/the-real-story-on-lectins

Government of Canada. (2011). Lectins in Dry Legumes. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-safety/chemical-contaminants/natural-toxins/lectins-legumes.html

Jood, S., Mehta, U. Singh, R., Cheranjit, M.B. (1985). Effect of processing on flatus-producing factors in legumes. J. Agric. Food Chem., 1985, 33 (2), pp 268–271 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00062a028?journalCode=jafcau

Kelsall, A., FitzGerald, A., Howard, C., Evans, R., Singh, R., Rhodes, J., & Goodlad, R. (2002). Dietary lectins can stimulate pancreatic growth in the rat. International Journal of Experimental Pathology, 83(4), 203–208. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2613.2002.00230.x

Kotalik, S. A. (2005). Fiber: the broom that sweeps your digestive system clean,balances blood sugar. Sioux City Journal. Retrieved from http://siouxcityjournal.com/special-section/health-med-fit/health/fiber-the-broom-that-sweeps-your-digestive-tract-clean-balances/article_c4e1fb66-eec4-5cae-b930-ffb95c36f936.html

Kumar, S., Verma, A. K., Das, M., Jain, S. K., & Dwivedi, P. D. (2013). Clinical complications of kidney bean (phaseolus vulgaris L.) consumption. Nutrition, 29(6), 821-7. http://dx.doi.org.gbcprx01.georgebrown.ca/10.1016/j.nut.2012.11.010 Retrieved from https://login.gbcprx01.georgebrown.ca/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1348899308?accountid=27351

Lagarda-Diaz, I., Guzman-Partida, A., & Vazquez-Moreno, L. (2017). Legume Lectins: Proteins with Diverse Applications. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(6), 1242. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms18061242

Rodhouse, J. C., Haugh, C. A., Roberts, D., & Gilbert, R. J. (1990). Red kidney bean poisoning in the UK: an analysis of 50 suspected incidents between 1976 and 1989. Epidemiology and Infection, 105(3), 485–491.

Story, E. N., Kopec, R. E., Schwartz, S. J., & Harris, G. K. (2010). An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 1, 10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120. http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120

Vojdani, A. (2015). Lectins, agglutinins, and their roles in autoimmune reactivities. Alternative Therapies In Health And Medicine, 21 Suppl 146-51.

Vasconcelos, I. M., & Oliveira, J. A. (2004). Review: Antinutritional properties of plant lectins. Toxicon, 44(Highlights in plant toxins), 385-403. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2004.05.005

What's the Deal with Xylitol?

written by Jessica Tilley

xylitol, sweetener, sugar, maple syrup, honey, nutrition

There is sugar in almost every processed product that we buy. Even in the organic, “healthy” stuff, there’s still some form of it.  On average, a person in North America consumes 32g of sugar daily and it is causes so many health issues that most people are not aware of. Ingesting this large amount of sugar damages the liver, increases insulin levels (which can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances) and can cause an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Besides that, sugar also negatively impacts the immune system and your body’s ability to defend itself from illness.

There are, however, much healthier substitutes that could be used instead of white sugar that won’t cause the same negative effects.  Maple syrup and honey are popular choices- however they will still raise your blood sugar and be broken down into glucose in your body like refined sugar, however they still contain other nutrients, such as minerals.   Another lesser known option is xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is derived from plants such as berries, corn and birch. It is lower in calories than sugar but delivers the same level of sweetness. It also is absorbed more gradually so it won’t spike insulin levels.   

We’ve been curious about xylitol and whether it is a safe alternative to using sugar, maple syrup and honey in sweet recipes.

Studies have shown that consuming xylitol benefits your dental health- some dentists recommend chewing gum that contains xylitol to combat tooth decay and the growth of plaque causing bacteria. There are also studies that show this sugar substitute also helps with the absorption of calcium, and reduces the acidity level of saliva in our mouths.  Xylitol is not used by the bad bacteria in your gut (they feed on glucose, which can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria).  Xylitol is very easily substituted in any baking, or really any recipe that contains sugar.

However, we do have our concerns with xylitol.  This substance is highly toxic to dogs, even the smallest amount can result in liver failure.  In humans, although it is not as common, it can cause some digestive discomfort. Sugar alcohols draw water into the gut and if it stays there for a while can start to ferment, causing gas and bloating.

 

So, what’s the conclusion?

We would stay away from xylitol if you are managing or recovering from a digestive illness or know that you have a sensitive digestive system.  If you do use xylitol, we would use it in small amounts (same rule as we apply to other sweet things).  We’d also recommend trying out stevia instead, if you need a completely glucose-free sweetener option.  

 

Resources:

Daniluk, J. (n.d.). Life After Sugar: A Guide to Alternative Sweeteners . Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://juliedaniluk.com/food-facts/life-after-sugar-a-guide-to-alternative-sweeteners.html?highlight=WyJzd2VldGVuZXJzIl0

Gunnars , K. (2016, August 18). Xylitol: Everything You Need to Know (Literally). Retrieved April 14, 2017, from https://authoritynutrition.com/xylitol-101/

Mercola, Dr. (n.d.). What Happens in Your Body When You Eat Too Much Sugar? Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sugar-side-effects.aspx

What Do Tryptophan, Vitamin B and Omega 3s all have in Common?

written by Jessica Tilley

mood boosting foods, tryptophan, serotonin, vitamin B6, omega 3's, Toronto, Nutritionist

As beautiful as winter can be, we are ready for it to really be spring and summer! The extra hours of sunlight that we’ve been experiencing and the sporadic warm days have been such a tease to the long summer days that are soon to come. With the dark, cold days behind us and the bright (maybe warm? Who really knows with Canada…. ) ahead of us, we thought what better way to get through these last few weeks of the “winter blues” than by sharing with you some mood boosting foods that can help increase serotonin levels.

 

Serotonin 

First things first, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that triggers nerve impulses. It is found mainly in our gastrointestinal tract but is used in the brain. Serotonin affects multiple functions in our body, such as mood, digestion, sleep, appetite and memory. Having low levels of serotonin has been linked to mental disorders such as depression. There are a few ways that someone could increase their levels of serotonin naturally, including: artificial light sources (known as sun lamps), exercise or diet.

 

Tryptophan

In order to boost serotonin through diet, protein rich food need to be incorporated. Tryptophan, an amino acid that’s found in the protein, is a precursor to serotonin. This means that without this nutrient, the effects of serotonin wouldn’t happen in the body. For the average person, the daily recommended amount is roughly 280mg. There are many food options that are high in tryptophan. Consuming 1 cup of pumpkin seeds, soybeans, meat, seafood and oats will all meet the recommended daily intake of tryptophan.

 

Vitamin B6

Tryptophan is not the only nutrient that will boost serotonin levels. Studies have shown that vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and long-chain omega 3s have a similar effect on our bodies, as tryptophan does. B6 is one of the 8 B vitamins, all of which are responsible for converting food into energy. B vitamins are also responsible for keeping the nervous system functioning accordingly.  Vitamin B6, specifically, is the B vitamin that is responsible for the production of serotonin. The recommended amount to consume for the average adult is 1.3mg. Foods such as tuna, salmon and liver are all great sources of B6 for omnivores. For those who are vegetarians or vegan, chickpeas are your great food source of vitamin B6 and you can find some in sweet potato, potatoes, and sunflower seeds.

 

Omega 3's

Now omega 3’s, the nutrient that is mostly associated with fatty fish (salmon), has been shown to fight against mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. In studies, omega 3’s were found to be highly concentrated in the brain, which accounts for playing a critical roll in cognitive and behavioural functions. Fatty fish are not the only food sources that are rich in omega 3’s; in fact there are vegan sources of it as well. ¼ cup of walnuts or 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds will provide an individual with almost double the recommended amount ofALA, one of the 3 types of omega 3’s(ALA daily recommended intake is 1.6g for males and 1.1g for females!).

 

One More Tip

 Choose colourful, bright foods!  Although it may seem like something small, food that looks vibrant and is fresh is more likely to make you feel lively and happier than drab looking food.  Just look at the photo at the top of this post and you can see how happy bright food appears.

 

While there are many factors that influence our moods, we know the mood boosting foods can play an important role in making a difference.  Focus on integrating some of the best foods to increase mood: tryptophan rich foods, vitamin B6 as well as omega 3 rich foods to support better mood and mental health.

Let us know if you have any questions!  We love hearing from our readers.

 

Sources:

Food Sources of Omega-3 Fats. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Fat/Food-Sources-of-Omega-3-Fats.aspx

Ehrlich, S. D. (2015, May 08). Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). Retrieved March, 2017, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b6-pyridoxine

Gregor, M., MD. (n.d.). How To Boost Serotonin Naturally. Retrieved March, 2017, from http://nutritionfacts.org/2012/11/15/boost-serotonin-naturally/

Medical Definition of Serotonin. (n.d.). Retrieved March, 2017, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5468

Stahl, L. A., Begg, D. P., Weisinger, R. S., & Sinclair, A. J. (2008, January). The role of omega-3 fatty acids in mood disorders. Retrieved March, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18183532

Whitbread, D. (2016, November 24). Top 10 Foods Highest in Tryptophan. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-tryptophan-foods.php

Young, S. N. (2007, November). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Retrieved March, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/

Why is Bone Broth So Good for You?

written by Jessica Tilley

chicken soup, bon broth, soup

written byJessica Tilley

March 13th is National Chicken Noodle Soup Day and with the weather that we’ve been experiencing lately in Toronto, it couldn’t of come at a better time.  These days bone broth has become increasingly popular.  Although bone broth may sound intimidating, it's actually not all that different from making chicken soup (except that it is cooked for longer).

There’s something about curling up with a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup (or bone broth makes us quite happy too) that we love here at The Living Kitchen. Even though chicken soup is great to have at any time, most of us associate it with being sick. Although chicken soup isn’t going to cure you from the flu, it can help relieve the unbearable symptoms. There have been studies conducted that show that this broth has beneficial properties when trying to fend off the flu.

Similar to hot tea, hot soup helps to sooth a sore throat and the heat helps to clear congestion. Protein from the chicken provides a specific amino acid, cysteine, which also aids in the break down of mucus. The vegetables used in cooking the broth provide many vitamins and minerals.

Now normally chicken noodle soup is made with vegetable broth or chicken stock, but one way to increase the nutrients in a dish like this is to swap the broth or chicken stock for bone broth. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the health benefits of bone broth, and for a good reason. Bone broth helps with inflammation, infections, and healthy digestion. Our favourite benefit of bone broth is that it aids in cancer prevention. Bone broth contains certain amino acids that are essential for a healthy immune system and liver. The bone marrow also produces lipids, which are important for the formation of white blood cells. The same type of lipids that are found in bone borrow are linked to controlling cancer cell growth.  The bone marrow also contains collagen, which will break down into gelatin, which studies have found may prevent cancer growth development as well as support and strengthen the digestive tract. 

Making bone broth is very similar to making chicken soup. The process starts out the same by roasting and simmering the bones in a liquid. The difference is the amount of time it is simmering away. Opposed to the 2-4 hours it normally takes to make chicken stock, making bone broth takes about 24 hours, or until the bones can be crushed between your two fingers. To ensure you are getting all the proper health benefits, it is recommended to use the bones from an organic, hormone-free, free-range raised animal, like all the meat we use here at The Living Kitchen.

Stay tuned and we'll share a bone broth recipe soon!


Resources:
D. (2015, April 07). Chicken Noodle Soup: An Effective Remedy for the Common Cold? Retrieved March 08, 2017, from http://www.dovemed.com/healthy-living/wellness-center/chicken-noodle-soup-effective-remedy-common-cold/

Desaulniers , V., Dr. (2016, November 22). 5 Ways Bone Broth Boosts Your Immune System and Fights Cancer. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from http://beatcancer.org/blog-posts/5-ways-bone-broth-boosts-your-immune-system-and-fights-cancer

Mercola, Dr. (2013, December 16). Bone Broth: One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx

Zabinski, J. (2015, October 12). SiOWfa15: Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy. Retrieved March 10, 2017, from https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/10/12/chicken-noodle-soup-the-magic-cure/

How to Make Homemade Kimchi + Fermented Foods

kimchi homemade, fermented foods

 

written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

Ah, fermented foods. Typically, most people cringe at the thought of the food we eat being full of bacteria, but fermentation is actually an age-old tradition dating as far back as 6000 BC; it was used originally to help preserve food and even change the texture and flavour of it to make it more palatable. Some of the earliest known fermented foods include cheeses, wine, yeasted breads, and vinegar. The process of fermentation involves introducing good bacteria into food and allowing it to grow inside of it. This may sound gross and super unsanitary, but good bacteria, or probiotics, are vital to our health.  Certain strains of probiotics found in fermented foods can aid in microbial balance inside our gastrointestinal tract. This prevents digestive inflammation and helps to promote a healthy immune system. It’s very important that our gut flora is healthy, as they make up a whopping 80% of our immune system. There are over 100 trillion bacteria cells, about three pounds worth, living in your intestinal tract. They help to protect us against pathogens by taking up all of the living space inside of our digestive system, making competition for survival very difficult for the bad bacteria. 

Here at Living Kitchen, we love all sorts of probiotic foods. Some of our favourites include miso paste, sauerkraut, kombucha, and raw apple cider vinegar, but the star of today is kimchi. Native to Korea, this spicy cabbage condiment is full of probiotic goodness and can be used in many different ways. Use it as a flavouring base for soups and sauces, put it on top of veggie burgers, in sandwiches, pair it with rice, or (my personal favourite) just eat it straight out of the jar! It’s super easy to make and is a great way to use up leftover vegetables in the fridge.  The most basic kimchi ingredients are the following:

- Napa Cabbage

- Non- iodized salt (we love sea salt)

 -Gochujang Red Pepper Powder

-Daikon or radishes

-Carrots

-Green onions

-Fresh Garlic and Ginger

The red pepper powder can usually be found in most Asian grocery stores, however, if you can’t find it, I’ve substituted sambal olek (a chili garlic paste also found in Asian grocery stores) and even regular chili powder and they’ve still turned out great. Whatever you’re using, make sure you have plenty of spice on hand because you will usually need anywhere between 3 tbsp to ½ cup of it, depending on how spicy you want your kimchi to be. 

This recipe is very simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

Important things to keep in mind:

  • Because you will be working with bacteria and leaving food to ferment, you want to make sure all utensils and jars are sanitized to prevent bad bacteria from growing in your kimchi. To do this, soak your utensils in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Use metal and glass utensils, bowls, and jars because they are safer and are less likely to harbour bacteria.
     
  • General reduction of sodium is usually a good thing, but for this recipe, you need to add the specified amount of salt because it acts as a preservative, protecting your kimchi from mold spores and other harmful bacterial growth. Do not try to reduce the amount of salt in this recipe! 
     
  • Once you get a hang of making your own kimchi, start experimenting with new ingredients. I personally love to add green onion and granny smith apples to my kimchi, but get creative! 
     
  • The fermentation time will vary for each person. Leave it for ferment for 2-5 days, depending on how sour and intensely flavoured you want your kimchi to be. Make sure the kimchi is always covered in liquid at all times! Top it up with more water if needed. Taste test it every day, when you’re happy with the flavours, transfer your jars to the fridge. They will keep for up to one month refrigerated. 

Simple Kimchi Recipe

One head of napa cabbage, chopped into 1 inch pieces
½ cup of non-iodized sea salt
3 carrots, grated or finely julienned  
½ daikon radish, grated or finely julienned
5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely or grated
3 inch piece of ginger, chopped finely or grated
3 tbsp gochujang powder, sambal olek, or chili powder, or more to taste
3 tbsp raw honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar 

Directions:
1. Dissolve the salt into 3 L (12 cups) of water. Add the napa cabbage slices and leave submerged for 2-24 hours, until the cabbage is wilted.  Rinse out the cabbage with cold running water to get rid of the excess salt.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, adding up to ¼ cup water to help mix the spices into the vegetables. 

3. Using clean tongs, pack the kimchi mixture into sterilized jars, filling them up about halfway. Make sure to add the residual liquid into the jars, the top of the kimchi should be fully submerged in the liquid. Top up the jars with extra water if needed. 

4. Secure a piece of cheesecloth with a rubber band on the top of each jar and leave them to ferment in a dark, dry place for 2-5 days. Good signs of fermentation include bubbles forming in the liquid (from the gas produced by fermentation) and a sharp, slightly acidic aroma. 

5. Once the kimchi flavour is as intense as you want it to be, put a lid on each jar and keep in the fridge. It will continue to ferment, but much more slowly due to the cold temperature. 

Enjoy! 

 

 

References

Foroutan, R. MS RD. (2012). The History and Health Benefits of Fermented Foods. Retrieved from http://www.foodandnutrition.org/Winter-2012/The-History-and-Health-Benefits-of-Fermented-Food/

Mercola, J. (2003). 100 Trillion Bacteria in Your Gut: Learn How to Keep the Good Kind There. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/10/18/bacteria-gut.aspx

3 Cancer Prevention Foods You Didn't Know About

cancer prevention foodsjpg

World Cancer Day is this Saturday, February 4. Continuing with the Union for International Cancer Control’s three-year campaign slogan “We Can, I Can”, this day highlights how we, both as a society and as individuals, can reduce the burden of cancer. Cancer affects everyone, but we all have the ability to lessen the impact this disease has on individuals, families, and communities. There are a number of Key Messages that the UICC suggests we, both independently and together, should be focusing on pushing in order to help fight cancer. These messages (which you can find on their campaign website),  range from  promoting healthier cities and work environments to shaping policy changes. Two of UICC’s Key Messages stood out to us here at Living Kitchen:  Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices, and Prevent Cancer. 

We are what we eat, quite literally. The food that we put into our bodies has a tremendous impact on our health. Something as simple as changing what you eat could drastically lower your chance of developing cancer. For example, it has been established that a diet high in red meats, refined grains, and added sugars increases the risk of colorectal cancer; if you were to cut out those risk increasing factors and replace them with more plant based options, less added sugars, and whole grains, you would be lowering your chances of developing that type of cancer.

There is no doubt that there are certain foods that are renowned for their cancer fighting properties: Cruciferous vegetables, turmeric, and garlic are all disease fighting superfoods that come to mind. However, there are some lesser known foods that pack just as big of a punch when it comes to food for cancer prevention. This World Cancer Day, we can take a stand against this disease by making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent cancer.

Here’s our list of foods that are linked with cancer prevention, that you might not know about! 

 

Probiotic/ Fermented Foods

Did you know that 80% of your immune system resides within your gut? This is thanks to the hundreds of billions of microflora that live in your digestive system. They enhance immune function, regulate bowel movements, and enhance nutrient absorption. The probiotics found in fermented foods provide the gut with good bacteria. This in turn regulates your bowels, and also prevents unwanted infections and pathogens as the good bacteria outnumber the bad. Probiotics have also been shown to possess anti-tumor properties, and support cells that are responsible for fighting infections and tumors.  These powerful bacteria are found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and even in sourdough bread! They’re also available in supplement form for convenience.  

 

Supergreens: Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheatgrass

If you’re looking to get a super concentrated amount of nutrients in the smallest amount of food, supergreens are your new best friend. Spirulina, a blue-green algae, contains all of the essential amino acids, several B vitamins (including folate!), and is high in iron, but its superfood properties don’t stop there. Studies have shown that spirulina helps to stop cancer cells from replicating; if cells can’t replicate, cancer can’t spread. It can be found in powder, tablet, or capsule form and makes a wonderful addition to smoothies, juices, and even soups. Chlorella is another supergreen that is a close cousin to spirulina. As well as being a great source of omega-3’s, it’s been shown to increase energy in breast cancer patients, prevent DNA damage, and even induce cancer cell death. Just like with spirulina, it can be found in powder, tablet and capsule form.  Other super greens to look for and try out include wheatgrass and chlorophyll. 

 

Mushrooms

Despite having been studied for their medicinal properties for ages, mushrooms are not always in the spotlight for their cancer-fighting properties as much as they should be. Known for having anti-cancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, mushrooms certainly are a powerful superfood. They also contain prebiotics, not to be confused with probiotics! Prebiotics are a specialized plant fibre which helps to feed the good bacteria in the gut. Think of it as a fertilizer for the good bacteria found in probiotic foods. Another awesome thing about mushrooms is their immunomodulating properties- they can help to regulate your immune system. A word of warning though: Not all mushrooms are created equally. The best mushrooms to eat that contain these wonderful benefits are shiitake, enoki, cremini, oyster, reishi, portobello, chaga, hen-of-the-woods, and turkey tail. 

written by Rebecca Moutoussidis

 

References:

Jackson, F. M.D . (2016). Prebiotics vs. Probiotics. Retrieved from https://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotin-academy/what-are-prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

Fung, T.T. & Brown, L.S. Curr Nutr Rep (2013) 2: 48. doi:10.1007/s13668-012-0031-1

Gilhuly, K. (2015). Spirulina and Vitamin B Deficiencies. Retrieved from  http://www.livestrong.com/article/492033-spirulina-b-vitamin-deficiencies/

World Cancer Day 2016-2018 (2017). Theme- We Can. I Can. Retrieved from  http://www.worldcancerday.org/about/2016-2018-world-cancer-day-campaign

Yu, Ai-Qun, et al.  “The potential role of probiotics in cancer prevention and treatment.” Nutrition and Cancer, vol. 68, no. 4: May-June 2016: pp. 535-544.

Maleki, Davood, et al, “Probiotics in Cancer Prevention, Updating Evidence,” Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics: Bioactive Foods in Health Promotion, 2016: pp. 781-791.

Zhujun, Wang, et. al. “Inhibitory effects of small molecular peptides from Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis on cancer cell growth.” Food & Function, vol. 7, 2016: 781-788.

Gorjzdadeh, Homan, et. al. “Fatty acid composition of Spirulina sp., Chlorella sp. and Chaetoceros sp. microalgae and introduction as potential new sources to extinct omega 3 and omega 6.” Iranian South Medical Journal, vol. 19, no. 2: pp. 212-224.

Noguchi, Naoto, et. al. “The Influence of Chlorella and Its Hot Water Extract Supplementation on Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2014, 2014 March. 

Yusof, Yasmin Anum Mohd, et al. “Hot Water Extract of Chlorella Vulgaris Induced DNA Damage and Apoptosis.” Clinics, vol. 65, no.12, 2010: pp. 1371–1377. 

Patel Seema, et al. “Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review.” 3 Biotech. vol. 2, no. 1, Mar  2012: pp. 1-15.