HPN 25: Spring Seasonal Eating Guide, Plus In Depth on The Science of Cravings and Creative Ways to Alleviate Stress

February 26, 2021


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Welcome to episode 25 of Holistic Performance Nutrition (HPN) featuring Tawnee Gibson, MS, CSCS, CISSN, and Julie McCloskey, a certified holistic nutrition coach who you can find over at wildandwell.fit.

On this episode:

Part 1:

Seasonal Eating Guide—Spring!

A reminder of our seasonal picks for previous seasons (click on the link for full show): 

  • Summer: Raspberries, Arugula, Figs, Parsley, Garlic
  • Fall: Blackberries, Parsnips, Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, Ginger
  • Winter: Endives, Rapini, Kiwi, Kohlrabi, Turnips

Spring 2021 picks:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Nettles
  3. Dandelion greens 
  4. Lemons 

Instead of a 5th food for the spring season, we have homework for YOU! Find a local farmers market (FM) if you don’t already attend one regularly and talk to a farmer, ask them what’s fresh, and bring some home! If you already go to FM regularly, then be adventurous and try something NEW that you’ve never bought before. Write in and tell us what you found! #shoplocal #eatseasonally

#1 Asparagus:

  • Seasonality: April to mid-July, but can start as early as February.
  • 4 Varietals: green, white (covered in soil, no chlorophyll), purple, and wild.
  • What to Look For: the thinnest stalks possible as they are the most tender. Should have a fresh scent, if it smells musty give it a pass. Rich in color and stand firm.
  • Part of the clean 15! No detectable residues on 90% of samples. Doesn’t like much water; their water footprint is pretty low.
  • Storage: It Goes downhill pretty quickly, so trim the ends and stand it in the cup of water in the fridge.
  • Can peel asparagus. Don’t overcook, can enjoy raw, shaved, grilled, roasted, steamed. Trim it! Grasp a stalk with one hand around the root end at its furthest point, and the other about mid-way down the stalk and gently bend. Wherever it breaks is where it should be trimmed to.
  • Nutrition: Vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamin k, inulin (prebiotic fiber). Fiber, mostly insoluble which forms bulk to the stool, and some soluble fiber which draws water from the intestines creating a gel-like substance to help move things along.
  • Asparagus Pee: Excreting sulfur compounds into the urine; it’s likely that everybody produces it but not everybody smells it.  

#2 Dandelion greens:

  • Sprouting up on lawns across the country – one of the first signs of spring.
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-microbial properties.
  • Good for liver health protection and liver function and detox support; cleanse and flush toxins (Chinese medicine uses to treat hepatic diseases).
  • Dandelion is rich in Polyphenols (the main source of dietary antioxidants) with chicoric acid (CRA) (phenolic acid) as the most abundant component of dandelion, found in all parts of the plant.
  • Drink as a tea or as an herbal coffee.
  • Generally, the concentration of polyphenols is higher in flowers and leaves than in stems but they are included in all parts.
  • Dandelion contains: Vitamins K plant-based A and C, even D, E, B! Also: inositol, lecithin, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, sodium, calcium, silicon, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.
  • “The root of dandelion contains inulin which includes fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). This complex carbohydrate can help to normalize blood sugar levels; it reduces hyperglycemia and can be really beneficial for gut health — FOS is a complex carbohydrate; its intake benefits bifido-bacteria, which eliminate pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract [66]. As a result of mineral absorption, FOS stimulates the immune system, and thereby suppresses abnormal cell growth.” (Source from the study mentioned above.)
  • “Also contains chlorogenic acid; CGA has been a potential compound for preventing obesity and inflammation. It also impacts on insulin secretion and sensitivity, making it an attractive option for use as a future anti-diabetic drugs [61, 71].” (Source from the study mentioned above.)
  • “It has also been demonstrated that dandelion extract is able to reduce hepatic lipid accumulation by activating the phosphorylation of AMP and AMPK, hence protecting against NAFLD and eventually against hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease) [126].” (Source from the study mentioned above.)
  • “Dandelion is one of the richest sources of [plant-based] beta-carotene (11,000 µg/100 g leaves, same as in carrots), from which vitamin A originates [66]. In the past few years, dandelion has demonstrated health benefits including anti-rheumatic, anti-carcinogenic, diuretic, laxative, hypoglycemic, and chloretic effects [67].” (Source from the study mentioned above.)
  • Incorporating Dandelion in food & drink
    • A bitter green to add to salads, juice, or drink dried dandelion teas
    • “The health-promoting benefits of dandelion can be attributed to the presence of these bitter substances and of phenolic components, which possess anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities [44].”
      • How much to consume: Renowned physicians, the European Commission, and the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommended the following range of doses for dandelion:
        • Fresh leaves 4-10 g daily
        • Dried leaves 4-10 g daily
        • 2-5 ml of leaf tincture, three times a day
        • Fresh leaf juice, 1 teaspoon twice daily,
        • Fluid extract 1-2 teaspoon daily
        • Fresh roots 2-8 g daily
        • Dried powder extract 250-1000 mg four times a day

#3 Nettles:

  • Seasonality: Start showing up late winter to early spring depending on where you live. They can’t withstand the heat, after a 90-degree day they’ll be gone.
  • Grows wild in forests and woodlands near streams and rivers in NA, Europe, parts of Asia, Russia, and Northern Africa.
  • Either forage them or buy from a farmer who foraged them for you.
  • Storing: extremely perishable, will keep for a few days in the fridge. Wear gloves until soaked or cooked. 
  • Uses: much like spinach. Pesto, sauces, soup, pizza or pasta topping, with eggs, nettle tea.
  • Nutrition (link to nettles chart): 1 cup is 6g of fiber and 2g protein. A, K, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Mag – outperforms kale, spinach, and dandelion in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin A. 
  • Medicinal: long regarded as a botanical healer – Naturally detoxifying and anti-inflammatory it’s been used for gout, anemia, and joint pain. Native Americans have long been using it not only as a general tonic but for fevers and to help with childbirth.

#4 Lemons

  • Another polyphenol powerhouse. It’s so obvious and available that you might pass it by, but it’s coming into peak season so stock up this spring
  • Possible negative effects if eating lemons regularly:
    • Concerns with enamel erosion (maybe use a straw if you’re worried).
    • If you have any GI upset or internal issues, you may need to avoid doing it on an empty stomach
    • Lemons may trigger migraines in some people; source: Migraine Miracle (please help support the podcast by using the link).
  • “Immense therapeutic potential because of their anticancer, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory nature and also serve as an important ingredient in the formulation of several ethnic herbal medicines.” (Source)
  • “In animal studies, the citric acid found in lemon water has also been shown to protect liver function and prevent oxidative damage, helping preserve the liver’s natural ability to detoxify.” (Source)
  • Lemon water first thing in AM is an easy way to consume – a bonus – you’ll help meet your hydration needs! It can help combat cravings, promote regular bowel function/constipation relief, detox support, adrenal support, energy, and more.
  • Combined with exercise (walking 7k steps a day), a lemon a day was shown to help lower BP. (Source)
  • Packed with vitamin C:
    • Lemons contain about 50-75mg vitamin C per 100 g of juice. Looked at another way, just 1 cup of fresh lemon juice provides more than 150% of your daily recommended serving of vitamin C (one lemon is about 30-40%).
  • Also contains fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and copper, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B6, folate, and pantothenic acid/B5- good for adrenal health.

Part 2:

Science of Cravings & Stress Mitigation

  • Not from a lack of willpower or a complete emotional failure. We now understand there is a biochemical reason for cravings and we want to help you determine what that is (usually many) and then using that knowledge to begin the process of deconstructing the craving/habit/behavior.
  • Cravings are a signal that our body is out of balance — What is causing the imbalance? Where are they coming from?
    • Poor night’s sleep
    • Dehydration (minerals) — SOLE WATER
    • Nutritionally
      • Energy Deficit from not eating all day or just the first half (ravenous for dinner?) because you didn’t plan or have been ignoring your hunger cues for so long. 
      • Blood sugar imbalance – what goes up must come down.
      • Gut health – inflammatory foods mess with your intestines causing an imbalance of bacteria and throwing our neurotransmitter production off and wanting more comforting and quick-energy foods. Triggers could be gluten, seed oils, artificial sweeteners, sugar, processed foods, low-quality dairy.
      • Micros/Macros – minerals, water, magnesium, protein, fat.
    • Stress
    • Hormones
      • Ghrelin (the hunger hormone), Leptin (Satiety hormone), Neurotransmitters serotonin (hug someone!), and dopamine (try something new to get a dopamine hit!)
    • Habitual
      • We create this habit/feedback loop that we consider to be a craving. Eat when angry? Excited? Stressed? Sad? Certain time of day? Certain location? With a certain show? When changing tasks? Buy certain things at certain stores? Hostess cupcakes when buying the paper?
      • Good resource by Thorne on the science of cravings (mentioned by Tawnee): 
  • NO judgment, you are not weak because you have cravings. They are normal! Use them to learn more about yourself and your environment

Neurotransmitters Involved:

  • Dopamine: known as the feel-good neurotransmitter—a chemical that ferries information between neurons. The brain releases it when we eat food that we crave or while we have sex, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system (ever reach your goal? The feelings involved is a rush of dopamine)
    • What else increases Dopamine? 
      • Eat enough protein – tyrosine (beef, pork, fish, chicken)
      • Probiotics – gut and brain connection!
      • Exercise, sleeping 8-9 hours
        • Sleeping and waking same time every day. Reducing noise and light in the bedroom. Limit caffeine/alcohol/sugar
        • “When people are forced to stay awake during the night, the availability of dopamine receptors in the brain is dramatically reduced by the next morning”
      • Listening to music (instrumentals)
      • Meditation and sunlight
      • Try something NEW
  • Serotonin: helps regulate mood. Calm, relaxed, focused, motivated, happier, emotionally stable
    • Needed for production: Tryptophan, B6, Omega-3s, Vit. D (most in your gut!)
    • Sunlight, Fish, Bananas, Turkey, Beans, Eggs, Leafy Greens
    • Aerobic exercise
    • Massage – decrease cortisol and increase serotonin
    • Hug someone!

What CAN we do when we get a craving:

  • Pause, approach with no judgment. Give yourself time to switch from the emotional brain to the logical brain.
  • Ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or just eating for the sake of eating. Or ask yourself, “What part of me is this nourishing?
  • Eat at a designated eating station – sitting and mindfully and joyfully. Have a date with yourself at the table!
  • Envision your life as a movie and you are the lead character — how does this scene end? Joyfully? Great. Uncomfortable and disappointed? Rewrite the scene, gain trust back in yourself.

Alternative Ways to Deal with Stress:

  • Meditation or any mindfulness practice; baby steps – even 1 minute at a time makes a difference!
  • Go outside – forest bathing. 
  • Grounding – piggybacking off forest bathing, get barefoot and TOUCH nature; if you don’t want to take off shoes cause it’s cold, touch a tree or anything in nature.
  • Connect with someone somehow.
  • Affection, touch, conversation, gift-giving.
  • Have a creative side project.
  • Listen to music, dance, yoga.
  • More specific to music: Sound wave therapy
    • Try listening to 528Hz, known as the “love frequency” it is a healing frequency that you can find in music among other places in nature to help restore balance, reduce stress and cortisol.
    • It is one of 7 solfeggio frequencies each of which offers specific benefits. You can find this stuff for free on youtube and just let it play for hours (but even just a few minutes really seems to help calm).
    • https://meditativemind.org/benefits-of-music-based-on-7-solfeggio-frequencies/
  • Gratitude practice (and less focus on all that’s negative).
  • Ensure enough sleep 
  • Supplements 
    • Stress B Complex by Thorne; they have a few different B complex supplements, but Tawnee loves the Stress formulation! Extra B5 for adrenals and immunity.
    • L-Theanine to reduce anxiety and physio signs of stress.
    • Mg Bisglycinate 2-3 hr before bed (citrate or carbonate may cause loose stool for those sensitive; can also relieve constipation — something like Natural Calm or BodyHealth Calm). 
      • Also a transdermal Mg spray (Tawnee sprays this on after her workouts). Mg spray is Mg chloride.
  • Epsom salt bath (which is basically Mg sulfate) 
    • Not only do baths ROCK, with Epsom salts they support detox and can help you bounce back if you feel like you’ve been dragging and overwhelmed with stress; also counteracting too much exposure to radiation and technology (either for work, travel, health procedure like an MRI or just sensitive to tech).
    • Not much research on these baths.
    • Mg absorbed thru skin, increases blood levels (one study showed increase in serum Mg after a week of baths).
    • Mg helps 100s of biochemical reactions and enzymes so epsom salt baths in theory may boost these functions, helping you feel better. More on what Mg does https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/magnesium.
    • More.

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