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Can Chamomile Reduce Anxiety?

Chamomile has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety in those with moderate to severe anxiety.

Feeling anxious?

Chamomile has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety in those with moderate to severe anxiety. (1, 2)

In 2020, we have had a lot to keep us anxious. Whether it be economic insecurity, health, wildfires, police shootings, protests, massive change and disruption in schedules, and now an election that could take days (or longer) to call. While you try to keep your sanity consider turning off the news and curling up with a cup of tea.

Other uses for Chamomile

In addition to anxiety, chamomile had been shown to:

  • help relieve colds
  • reduce the severity of menstrual cramps
  • boost the immune system
  • act as a mild sedative

Long term use of chamomile has been found to have no side effects.

Sources:

  1. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder
  2. Long-term Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial

Caesar Dressing

A few years ago I started to make my own salad dressing. This is something I decided to do because store-bought salad dressing almost always contains oils that I specifically try to avoid.

Salad dressing can be as simple as tossing your greens in oil and vinegar. My favorite dressing is Caesar and unfortunately it is a little more complicated than that. It requires a whole lot of whisking but I use a food processor to make the process a little easier.

I use a recipe I found a few years ago from Bon Appetit.

Some notes about this recipe:
– for vegetable oil, I use unrefined peanut or avocado oil, examples of oil to avoid are listed below. In addition to vegetable oil this recipe includes olive oil, you could use olive oil for all of the oil in the recipe but I wouldn’t recommend it. Olive oil has a stronger flavor than vegetable oil and will be noticeable in the finished product
– You can skip anchovies and still have a lovely dressing, when I make this I don’t always remember to buy anchovies so I have made it without them many times

Oils to avoid: soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, grapeseed, refined coconut, refined peanut, refined avocado

If you don’t want to make salad dressing or don’t have time Primal Kitchen makes great dressing with high-quality oil!

Eating on the Wild Side

What’s on my bookshelf vol. 1: Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

Eating on the Wild Side explores the nutrient levels in different fruits and vegetables and how they have changed over time. Corn, as it turns out, was once a bush which produced only a few kernels. Plant breeding eventually resulted in the large cob of corn kernels you see today. Along with the increase in kernels corn also saw an increase in sugar and a decrease in vitamins.

Most produce found in the grocery store has a fraction of the nutrients they once had. But there are ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of your food.

When I buy and prepare produce I remember little tidbits from this book like:
– buy the reddest strawberries
– carrots cooked whole have more antioxidants than carrots cooked sliced
– tart apples have more health benefits than sweet varieties
– the most highly pigmented produce has the most antioxidants, unless you’re buying cabbage in which case stick with white

I could go on….

The book also recommends specific varieties of fruits and vegetables you can find at farmers’ markets. If you have any interest in optimizing your health through nutrition you’ve got to read this book. I find it endlessly fascinating and have read it multiple times.

Cold Weather Stew

Is it just me or did fall weather appear very suddenly? This cooler weather had me craving some hearty stew.

This can be made on the stove, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot.

Ingredients:

1-2 lb stew beef
Salt and pepper
1 cup peas
1 cup chopped carrots (3-4 carrots)
1 large potato diced
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tsp curry powder (optional)
2.5 cups stock (I use bone broth)

Directions:

Place stew beef into a bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Instant Pot: click the sauté button, add olive oil to prevent sticking then add meat

Stove or slow cooker: place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat on medium. Place meat in the pot with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Turn meat occasionally until browned on all sides. Meat does not need to be cooked fully through since it will continue to cook after adding vegetables.

While meat is browning chop all vegetables.

Once the meat is browned add potatoes, carrots, peas, garlic, seasonings, stock, and salt and pepper to taste.

Instant Pot: place lid on with valve closed. Select stew and let Instant Pot do its thing! After the stew is cooked allow pressure to release on its own for 10 minutes. In my experience the longer I let it sit the better

Stove: simmer for 50 minutes or until beef is cooked through and vegetables are tender

Slow cooker: cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours

I also pulled some leftover rice out of the fridge and put that right into the stew, it added some nice texture!

Does saturated fat increase the risk of diabetes?

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) released a review in their August 2020 publication stating that recent meta-analyses of clinical trials and observational studies have found no beneficial effects from limiting saturated fatty acids (SFA) in the diet. Those meta-analyses found that saturated fat has a protective effect against stroke.

The review stated “Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of CVD [Cardiovascular disease]. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.”

The review went on to say that increased risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, CVD, heart failure, and mortality tracked closely with dietary carbohydrate intake. This goes against what we are told by most dietitians and medical professionals.

What do the dietary guidelines say?

Current dietary recommendations advise limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of total calories. Carbohydrates are recommended to be 50-60% of total calories.

This is just the latest published evidence that reducing saturated fat has not been found to be beneficial. The evidence against reducing SFA intake has been mounting over the last few years but nutrition education and the dietary guidelines have yet to catch up.

This review goes into detail about the reasons behind the saturated fat recommendations and the benefits of different whole foods which contain high levels of saturated fat.

Should you make dietary changes?

It is important to note that carbohydtrates, fat, and protein effect everyone differently. Some people do well on a higher carb diet while others do well on a higher fat diet. This is the biggest problem with the dietary guidelines. It assumes there is a one size fit all approach to nutrition. If that were true, there would be no reason for dietitians to exist.

Despite there not being a one size fits all approach, dietary saturated fat is still limited for most people. Americans tend to buy low-fat products and avoid red meat and butter. While the attention has been on lowering saturated fat, processed carbohydrates have gone under the radar.

Though this review points out the issues with carbohydrate consumption and their connection to disease and mortality, try not to fret about foods like starchy vegetables and fruits. Processed food and particularly processed carbohydrates are extremely high in most diets. Reducing or eliminating those foods is the best way to ensure good health.

Practical Applications:

  • Increase your saturated fat intake by no longer limiting high-fat foods
  • Stop purchasing low-fat products
  • Reduce your processed carbohydrate intake
  • Increase whole foods

If you need help identifying processed carbs or whole foods email me at jess@jessnutrition.com and be sure to follow me on instagram @jessbnutrition.

Sources:

  1. Saturated Fats and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-Based Recommendations: JACC State-of-the-Art Review