Knee pain from osteoarthritis (OA) is a fairly common complaint. Cartilage damage can occur from a variety of factors including injuries, aging, and certain illnesses. Keeping the muscles around the knee strong and managing weight are two of the typical strategies to reduce pain.
A recent analysis of data from two large studies of patients with arthritis revealed another potential tool to help keep pain in check. Patients who ate more fiber had fewer symptoms and less likelihood of knee pain becoming worse over time. This result is a correlation and not a definite cause and effect. However, I think it is another good reminder to eat well and get enough fiber in our diets.
From a Berkeley Wellness Newsletter Article, here are the numbers and this link is their List of Best Foods for Fiber.
People who consumed the most fiber—21 grams a day on average in the Osteoarthritis Initiative, and 26 grams in the Framingham study— had a 30 and 61 percent lower risk of OA symptoms, respectively, compared with people who ate the least. Higher fiber intake also reduced the likelihood of knee pain worsening among participants who had that symptom at the start of the studies.
Kale and other leafy greens have been popular for a while because they are nutritional powerhouses. They are tasty, high in fiber and contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals (for details, see WebMD Top 10 Leafy Green Vegetables). They are also low in calories. One way I get my daily greens is in a green smoothie, as I wrote about previously.
A recent study from the University of Illinois provides even more incentive to keep leafy greens – along with other green vegetables – on your menu routinely.
Farm share photo by my share partner.
A study of older adults links consumption of a pigment found in leafy greens to the preservation of “crystallized intelligence,” the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime.
I really like hummus! It’s tasty in a sandwich, on a pita or with veggies. Hummus from local favorites Holy Land Deli or Deena’s Gourmet are very good. But what do you do if your grocery store or co-op does not carry these brands? Make hummus at home. It is easy if you have a decent blender or food processor.
This is my go-to recipe. You can easily modify it and use different kinds of beans or add a vegetable such as a cooked beet. My apologies to whoever originated this recipe on line. I wrote the list of ingredients on a piece of paper so I don’t know anymore what website it came from.
15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBL olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
scant 1/2 tsp ground cumin
water, as needed for desired consistency – typically 2-3 TBL
Place the first 7 ingredients (everything except water and paprika) in a blender or food processor. Process to a coarse paste. Gradually add water to obtain a smooth consistency. To serve, place in a bowl and sprinkle with paprika.
The hummus will keep in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for about a week.
Posted in Food
Today, we have the unusual event of the full moon being on the summer solstice. The last time this happened was 1967 – or 1948, depending on the source. Anyway, it has been a long time! I hope you will have clear skies to enjoy the beauty of the moon tonight.
The full moon in June is the Strawberry Moon. This traditional name tells us that it is time to enjoy one of the summer’s tastiest treats! Locally grown strawberries are in Minnesota markets right now. Strawberries are very healthy, containing a number of vitamins and minerals with antioxidant properties. I enjoy the small and tender local berries plain, to savor their more intense flavor.
If your strawberries are not sufficiently delicious on their own, zip them up with some Balsamic Vinegar and a bit of sweetener. This recipe is very slightly modified from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop from America’s Test Kitchen.
Macerated Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar (serves 4)
2 pints strawberries: washed, hulled and cut up into pieces
1 tablespoon good quality, aged Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
- Place the berries in a large bowl and toss with the sugar
- Let the berries stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes
- Add the vinegar and toss again
- Serve immediately, on its own or with cookies or gelato
Posted in Food, wellness
Do you consistently practice healthy habits? If so, give yourself a gold star! If not, spring is a great time to make adjustments and engage in more healthful behaviors. Warmer weather and longer days make it easier to exercise outside or do yard work. Farmers markets and stores are already getting local produce to add more veggies to meals.
Unfortunately, it seems that very few people are doing all they can to stay well. Researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi studied over 4,700 people for 4 lifestyle practices that protect heart health. A study published in March 2016 (news release) revealed that less than 3% of people did all 4 of these healthy actions. While engaging in even one or two of these provides benefits, this is a case where more is better. The 4 benchmarks are:
- Not smoking
- Exercising moderately (150 minutes per week)
- Eating a good diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight / recommended body fat percentage
The Formula for Good Health is a similar set of guidelines for maintaining good health and minimizing the risk of illness. It was published in an editorial in American Family Physician by Dr Colin Kopes-Kerr in 2010.
The formula is 0, 5, 10, 30, 150. It’s essentially the same 4 benchmarks as in the OSU/Mississippi study with the addition of daily quiet time.
- 0: no cigarettes or tobacco products
- 5: servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 10: minutes of silence, relaxation, or meditation per day
- 30: keep your BMI (body mass index) below 30
- 150: minutes of exercise per week (e.g., brisk walking or equivalent)
I hope you will start today and make a small change for your health.
A friend recently told me about making nut butter fudge in the freezer and it is pretty great! I have made it with sunflower seed butter and almond butter and am very pleased with the results.
Thanks to SkinnyMs and Detoxinista for their recipes for freezer fudge using almond butter. I have combined their versions and reduced the sweetener:
- 1 cup unsalted, unsweetened creamy nut or sunflower seed butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon honey (or agave syrup or brown rice syrup)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Line a square pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Spread the mixture in the pan and freeze for 1 to 3 hours. Remove from the pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.
Posted in Food
In the US, we collectively waste about 40% of our food. This is an issue in part because hunger remains a significant problem in our nation. It also means all the water, energy and human effort to grow and transport that food is also wasted. The money paid to buy the food is wasted as well.
As if all that weren’t enough to be concerned about, wasted food contributes to climate change. Food that decomposes in landfills generates methane. Methane is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
You can reduce food waste in a number of ways. My best practices include planning a menu, making a shopping list and eating leftovers for lunch the next day. We froze many tomatoes and peppers at the end of last summer. We freeze extra servings of meals to have on busy nights (which helps reduce stress, too!). Soon, we will have a separate bin for food scrap collection and composting by the City of Minneapolis. For more information and other ideas for action steps that you can try, please see these resources:
NRDC: Your Scraps Add Up
Outside Magazine: Eating Right Can Save the World