New Year, new recipes

Black eyed peas are a traditional good luck food for New Year’s Day that dates back to the Civil War. Soldiers would take all the food that was available but leave the black eyed peas because they were considered a food that was fed to farm animals. The slaves that were still on plantations were glad to have the high protein food and the flavorful peas became associated with good luck – lucky to have food. They were traditionally served with collard greens or some other greens, corn bread and pork. The pan drippings added flavor for the greens and the corn bread helped soak up any extra liquid. The gold color of the corn bread was associated with gold and good fortune – money due in the new year. Read more: tripsavvy.com.

To make plain black eyed peas or other larger beans such as pinto or kidney beans:

  1. Sort the beans for any that look discolored or shriveled and occasionally small rocks may have been missed by the sorting machines.
  2. Rinse the beans or peas in water and drain.
  3. In a large stock pot add water to cover the beans with about four inches extra at the top.
  4. Leave the beans or black eyed peas to soak over night, about eight hours; or for the quick method, put on the lid and place the stock pot on medium high heat. Bring it to a boil for one minute and then remove it from the heat and let it sit covered with the lid for one hour.  Split peas and lentils and very small beans such as adzuki don’t need the overnight or hour long presoak.
  5. Drain the soak water as it helps remove some of the gassy effect (by removing some less digestible starches or something like that) and replace with fresh water to cover plus a couple extra inches if the goal is to have beans without much extra soup stock liquid. For two pounds of beans add eight cups of water for a pot of beans intended to be served without much soup broth or add about 12 cups of water if more broth is desired.
  6. Place the stock pot back on medium high heat with the lid on and bring back to a slight boil, for a large pot it might take a few minutes. Reduce the heat to a medium low so the stock continues to bubble gently – a simmer. Cook for one and half hours total.
  7. For soup with vegetables I let the beans cook for the first half hour without additional spices or vegetables as those cook in less time. I added about 2-6 cloves of garlic depending on whether small or large, minced, 2-4 tablespoons of cumin/coriander mix, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped in a half inch dice, about 3 cups, 6 large celery stalks chopped in half length wise and then sliced, about 1/4 inch dice, about 3 cups in all, 4 small carrots cut in half and sliced made about 1 cup chopped, add to the soup stock pot.
  8. In a separate pan saute 2 small or 1 large onion chopped in a 1/4 inch dice until wilted, but not necessarily caramelized – browned. Add the sauteed onion to the soup stock pot. Sauteed onion can be easier for some people to digest then boiled onion.
  9. After all that work another half hour is likely to have elapsed, add more herbs if desired. I added 1 teaspoon of thyme, and 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.

Since I am no longer lucky enough to be able to eat corn bread due to autoimmune symptoms I prepared two cups of rice in a separate pan and combined it with the soup when the vegetables and beans were done.

A large batch of soup ideally should be chilled in small glass or heat resistant containers or stir the soup in a large container or a couple larger containers in the refrigerator occasionally until the soup is chilled before adding to a plastic container.

I add salt at the table as we only taste salt that is on the surface of the food and unlike in baked goods there is no chemical reaction that requires stabilization by salt. If you forget the salt in a baked good it will likely have a crumblier texture. Baked goods are chemically recombining the ingredients into a new molecular form. Soup is more of a watery base with stuff floating in it.

Speaking of baked goods – a cookie modification to the eggless, gluten free recipe on my newer website (Chocolate Chip Cookie). These cookies are dairy free as I use baking cocoa and no chocolate chips. They are slightly less sweet and would have an increased amount of protein due to the substitution of almond meal for the buckwheat flour in the other recipe:

Chocolate Cookies

Makes 48 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20-25 minutes.

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flax meal, ground
  • 10 Tablespoons of Boiling Hot Water,

Step 1: — Combine the flax meal and boiling water and stir together for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and looks a little like a watery porridge. Then add the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla and apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside until later.

  • 3/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (This is needed in the corn free version of the recipe in order to make the Baking Soda work properly as a leavening agent. Baking Powder has cornstarch and it also has an acidic ingredient that Baking Soda doesn’t have.)
  • 1/2 cup of water (The baking cocoa makes this a dry mixture and the flax meal works best with a moist dough, the amount of water needed to make a soft dough that doesn’t crumble may be slightly less or more depending on how packed or overflowing the cups of flour and spoonfuls of cocoa powder are. I added a couple tablespoons at a time and found I needed 8 in all which equals a 1/2 cup, and it would be easier to combine with the wet ingredients. This is a new recipe, first trial run with the baking cocoa, second try with the almond meal substitution, it made a nice chewy texture.)

Step 2: — (actually step 1 combined several actions): — add the dry ingredients to a different larger bowl and mix together thoroughly:

  • 1/2 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 6 Tablespoons Baking Cocoa
  • 1/2 and 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda (*Baking Powder has cornstarch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour. It tastes a little like cinnamon but is not quite the same.

Step 3: — mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.

If desired these cookies could be made as double chocolate cookies by adding the chocolate chips at this stage as was included in the original recipe. I didn’t have any on hand.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. This batter is greasy seeming and the chips constantly pop out of the dough so I don’t even try to add a full package. It is easiest to work with the dough when the mix is more wet than dry, more like muffin batter than a typical “cookie dough“.

Step 5: — Preheat oven to 350’F., and form cookies with a scoop or with a pair of metal spoons as the batter is sticky and might even work in a cookie press if there weren’t chocolate chips. Form approximately one inch size balls of dough. Place about 24 on a pre-oiled or nonstick cookie sheet.

Step 6: — Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown.

Step 7: — Allow to cool slightly before eating and store in an airtight container once they are cool enough to no longer be emitting steam. The cookies keep for about a week or until they are all eaten, whichever happens first. They can also stored in the freezer once they are baked or as a cookie dough to be formed into cookies and baked at a later time for a treat fresh out of the oven with less work.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

 

Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel

Eight pomegranates later I’m glad to report that making pomegranate extract in the home kitchen is possible and the product can be used in a variety ways. Whether or not it has health benefits would need to be determined by clinical trials and chemical analysis and/or by the individual user at their own risk. But someone needs to be patient number one and being a professionally trained quantity foods and individual diet planner and producer helped give me the knowledge base I needed to turn the animal based research into a home kitchen recipe.

Background info – “an extract” of a food could be considered in Master Chef terms as either a raw, fresh squeezed juice or as a heated/simmered tea or soup stock.

Tea: A tea is generally made from dried herbs or dried fruit or flowers and is usually steeped for about 15-20 minutes for herbal tea or for one and half to four or five minutes for a green tea or black tea. Over steeping tea leaves can release an excess amount of the more bitter tannins which can have negative health effects of blood clotting for some people, (more on tannins in different types of tea: livestrong.com), and less healthy oxalic acid which can be a problem for people with kidney stones. (Rooibus, red tea, does not have oxalic acid. (beliefnet.com)) (Cold brewing (tching.com) may release less tannin content; although some tannins can have health benefits and some people get used to stronger more bitter black tea.

Soup stock: Soup stock may be made from washed and trimmed parts of vegetables that are not being used or are too fibrous for use in a food being prepared for direct consumption. A bone stock is simmered or roasted for a couple hours to release as much nutrient content as possible from the bone marrow (inner part of the bones) and cartilage and other trim that isn’t pure fats. A vegetable stock is simmered for less time as the nutrients from vegetables are released in a shorter amount of time, twenty to thirty minutes usually is adequate to release full flavor without destroying nutrients and flavor from over heating.

Juice: A good quality juicer is needed which the average home kitchen typically does not have. And a juicer can only handle soft fruits or vegetables of a consistent quality, carrots are generally possible but tougher seeds or peels need to be removed from other vegetables or fruits. Orange peel can not be juiced and would likely taste too bitter for making a quantity of juice. I use a sprinkle, 1/8 th teaspoon of minced dried lemon peel in soup which I add at the table rather than to the soup pot to retain more of the aroma and redcue risk of break down of the flavor or phytonutrients during the cooktime of a soup.

Pomegranate peel is very tough and is fairly dry. The soft whitish inner membrane could be run through a juicer but the brilliantly colored reddish peel also likely contains healthy phytonutrients and makes up more of the volume of the trim leftover after removing the juicy seeds.  Research on pumpkin seed kernels revealed that toasting them increases phospholipid content and that is a nutrient that can have health benefits for promoting Nrf2 and other health promoting needs for the body. So my kitchen trials focused on making a soup stock type of pomegranate peel/membrane extract. I tried batches simmered for 20 minutes which retained more color and for 30 minutes which broke down more of the pulp and resulted in a thicker, creamier extract. Both products seem to help my health symptoms and improve my energy level and mood.

Two large pomegranates.

Eight pomegranates later:

  1. For a concentrated product meant for frequent use I would recommend using organically grown pomegranates as the commercial growers may use glyphosate for weed control between the rows of pomegranate trees/shrubs. (Pomegranate trees/shrubs can survive 200 years – invest now – they can take 5-6 years to become fully producing but can have multiple trunks which resprout regularly and can be divided easily to create more rows of trees or should be pruned to reduce energy lost to the fruiting branches. they need a fairly dry climate but with some regular ground water or irrigation, excessive rainy or humid seasons increase risk of infection in the blossoms and tend to produce less quality fruit. So pomegranates are a good crop to consider investing in as we head into a drier, hotter planet, regions that are less ideal right now may become ideal in a decade or two. (Pomegranate growing tips: California, Georgia))
  2. The fruit is likely coated in a food grade wax to help it remain fresh longer. Washing the outer surface before cutting is a good idea, I just rinsed mine rather than using any special produce washing chemical. (Example of a product designed to remove food grade waxes. TraderJoe’s Fruit and Vegetable Wash) Glyphosate may be a chemical that is actually taken up into the produce or animal product so washing the exterior would not remove hypothetical risk from produce grown with it. (The chemical, glyphosate,is very similar to an amino acid, glycine, and it may be incorporated directly into protein structures in place of molecules of glycine, hypothetically. This theory needs more research; which wouldn’t be difficult for professional chemists with access to radioactive marking chemicals – radioactive label the glyposate; grow the product with the standard application rate of glyphosate/Roundup; and then test the produce, or animals that were fed with the produce, for presence of the radioactively labeled glyphosate – not a task for the home kitchen chef).
  3. Remove the juicy seeds and trim the peel and membrane of any discolored spots. It is not uncommon to have some brownish areas and a few bad seeds. Just trim away the discolored areas and discard. Cut away the discolored inner part that would be white from areas of the tougher rind that is still colorful rather than brownish to preserve more of the fruit. (math to add later, I measured yield to get an average, * see the end of the post for the details.)
  4. If a larger quantity of pomegranates are available to make a big batch of extract then any excess seeds that won’t be able to be used fresh can simply be put in a freezer bag or container and frozen for later thawing to use fresh on salad or as a snack or dessert fruit. I rinsed the seeds before freezing to remove any residue left from the occasional bad/rotten seeds. The pomegranate tips I read suggested a simple method to trim many pomegranates was to score the rind in half and then sixths or eighths; and fill a clean sink or large container with water and remove the seeds under water. Good seeds tend to be heavy and sink and bad seeds and the membrane and rind tend to float. Skim off the top layer of floating seeds and membrane and separate and trim the good parts of the inner membrane and rind and discard any decayed rind or seeds. Drain the bowl or sink and remove the seeds and sort for any bits of membrane. I didn’t try this method. I sorted god and bad seeds into separate bowls and trimmed the pile of peel/membrane of discolored areas afterward. Using food safe gloves might help protect the skin if prepping a large batch. The juice is acidic and can be a little drying to the skin. Put the seeds in a refrigerator container to use fresh or a freezer container to store for later use.
  5. I chopped the trimmed peel and inner membrane into roughly a quarter inch dice to try to maximize how much phospholipid and other phytonutrients might be released during the simmering phase. The extract might be as potent with a larger chop or no extra chopping. I didn’t experiment with that aspect – all batches were made with a quarter inch dice.
  6. I tried varying amounts of water with the chopped membrane and found it was easiest to work with when more was used, about one cup of water per one cup of diced peel worked fairly well for draining afterwards. One large pomegranate produced about two cups of diced membrane. I added one teaspoon of cold pressed organic coconut oil to the water/peel mixture in a large nonstick stockpot (or saucepan depending on the amount I was making). A little extra oil can help some phytonutrients be released from produce – (tomato sauce made with a little oil has more available lycopene content then tomato products made without oil or the fresh tomato.)
  7. Bring the peel/water/coconut oil mixture to a simmer at medium high heat ( a few minutes) and promptly turn down the heat to medium or low, cover with a lid, and continue at a gentle simmer (barely bubbling) for 20-30 minutes. Try not to overheat which might be noticed as a caramelized sugary smell or membrane fiber sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stirring occasionally can help.
  8. Drain the extract in a metal colander or soup stock wire mesh skimmer (example). Store in glass or metal until cooled as hot liquids can interact with some types of plastic and cause plastic molecules to enter the food. I rinsed the leftover peel with a few additional cups of water and got a second and third batch of more dilute extract that also had flavor and some health symptom relief effects. Master Chef challenge – there’s probably easier ways to do this. I did try running one batch of the softened membranes through a juicer and it didn’t really work, turned it to pulp, a blender would have done that, but the taste is very bitter, the extract is bitter enough without adding the actual peel (I sampled a little, sugar can’t help everything taste better.)
  9. Use the extract fresh or freeze the excess. It is quite acidic and fairly concentrated. To drink it as a juice I diluted with water, doubling roughly the volume and adding an ounce of 100% cherry juice and a spoonful of sugar helped the flavor, but pH strips and my stomach told me the acidity is the main issue with making it tolerable to drink. It is more acidic than coffee. I started adding baking soda as I do to my coffee but instead of one pinch per cup of coffee I ended up needing four pinches to get the pH adjusted to around a 6.0 it started at 4 or less (water is ~ a 7.0) (I happened to have pH strips on hand).
  10. I also tried the extract in a thick bean/rice vegetable soup, adding about an 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the more concentrated extract per couple bowls of soup to thin it for reheating and a little addition of something acidic can help with digestion, especially for older people (about 3 cups of soup). I regularly add a spoonful or two of lemon/lime juice to my bowls of bean soup or one spoonful of apple cider vinegar Iit is slightly more acidic). I tried a slightly smaller amount in the same soup for a group of people and while they all weren’t regular bean soup eaters they all found it okay and a couple of them liked it. (The chocolate chip cookies were more popular.)

My health symptoms seem to be more stable with the addition of extract  to my diet than they were with the 1/3 to 2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds each day. The other advantage is that freezing extract and seeds could help make it easier to have a reliable year round source for something that is needed for a daily health need.

The unchopped peel in the scale, a large bowl of good seeds and a small bowl of a few discolored seeds. This pomegranate didn’t really have many bad spots.
The chopped, 1/4 inch dice, raw peel and inner membrane.
The raw chopped peel and water before heating.
A large batch of the extract with peel and membrane after cooking 30 minutes.
A pan with drained extract and a colander with the leftover larger peel – this batch was cooked for 20 minutes.
A little chilled coconut oil is floating on top of the containers prepped to freeze.

Math yield:

The large pomegranate averaged more seeds but the total peel/membrane ended up being only a little more than from the small size. However the small ones I had were fresher and had fewer bad spots to trim so less waste may have been the major difference. The size difference isn’t type, it depends on when the blossom was pollinated. The pomegranate can have a few blossom setting times during the spring and blossoms that pollinate early produce large fruit and later ones produce smaller fruit. Or a shorter or drier growing season or less fertilizer applied to the rows may also result in smaller fruit. Pomegranate are usually sold by unit price rather than by pound so a larger fruit averaged about twice the size of the small size and would be a better deal if the price was per unit/ per fruit rather than by weight.

The large fruit, (six), averaged 18 1/4 ounces, 510 grams. And provided an average of 11 1/4 ounces, 306 grams, good seeds, and 7 ounces good peel/membrane, 195 grams, and 3 1/4 ounces bad seed/peel, 106 grams.

The small fruit, (two), averaged 9 3/4 ounces, 270 grams. And provided an average of 4 ounces good seeds, 110 grams, and 4 3/4 ounces good peel/membrane, 123 grams, and 1/4 ounce bad seed/peel, 6 grams.

The total extract made depended on how much water I used and the concentration varied so it would be difficult to give any accurate yield but roughly the amount of water used resulted in a similar amount of extract produced. Each pomegranate roughly produced two to three cups of concentrated extract which needs to be diluted with another two t three cups of water or soup to be palatable.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

It is not a coincidence that my phospholipid rich diet overlaps with the Nrf2 promoting foods

The punchline – phospholipids are the building block of cannabinoids which are also a phytonutrient that causes an increase in production of Nrf2. (1, 3) The most concentrated source of cannabinoids or phospholipids is found in medical marijuana or the non-euphoric CBD oil which is more likely to be available legally. However there are other legal sources of phospholipids and cannabinoids. The phytonutrients are also found in cocoa beans/baking cocoa/dark chocolate (processing reduces the concentration and availability of the ‘bitter’ tasting nutrients in more processed milk chocolate and chocolate syrup.) Phospholipids add a slight bitter taste to foods which I’ve always been able to taste and tend to prefer. A genetic screening did find that I have a double/ both sets of genes/ difference in my ability to make any chemical with phosphorus – the phospho- part of phospholipids which are important in many chemicals in the body not just cannabinoids. (4 – an open access textbook on phosphorylation)

For example the original Lemonhead TM candies have more flavor to me than the more recent version of lemon flavored Chewy Lemonhead, (lemonhead.com). Bitterness is something we have a specialized set of tastebuds to detect. Our tastebuds have a few specific types and there are some that detect sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and some for Umami (fermented protein/free amino acid/a hint of soy sauce like flavor). Recently reseachers have suggested a set detect starch but sweet is also a starch so it might be similar to the sweet detecting tastebuds. The article explains that the difference between simple sugars and complex, longer chain carbohydrates called polysaccharides, can be detected suggesting there are two types of carbohydrate sensing tastebuds. (2)

Our sense of smell adds a lot more differences to our enjoyment of foods and beverages. Terpenes are particularly good smelling and other phenolic compounds also add aroma. Cinnamon and vanilla, basil, oregano and lemon are all sources of phenolic compounds or terpenes. These were discussed in more detail in the recent post on Nrf2 and diet tips for promoting Nrf2. It is a protein that causes genes that make important antioxidants to become active so it helps protect us against damage from oxidative stress which can be caused by health factors or by real world worries whether an upsetting conversation or bad traffic.

Pomegranate seeds (not the juice) and pumpkin seed kernels are also good sources of phospholipids. The spice cardamom powder is also a good source. See the section The DASH Diet and Pumpkin Seeds on the home page of my other website: effectivecare.info. A salad recipe and more information about genetics and cannabinoids are also available on that site or in the post Is it Starvation or Addiction?

Pomegranate extract has been studied in animal based research to examine in more detail how it helps hypertensive blood pressure problems and reduce oxidative stress. The mechanism was found to involve increasing Nrf2. The formation of mitochondria increased, and their function improved. Before treatment the hypertensive animals had fewer of the specialized proteins that are involved in production of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the cellular organelles primarily responsible for turning blood sugar/glucose into usable energy. (5)

This study uses a pomegranate extract that incorporates the peel, seeds and juice as all contain the bioactive phytonutrient, punicalagin, thought to be most helpful for anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-diabetic effects. The animals who received the extract were found to have better blood pressure, reduced heart hypertrophy ( a sign of worse heart health) and a lower heart rate. Neuronal/nerve cell activity and oxidative stress markers were decreased in the experimental treatment group compared to the control group which received a saline solution and no pomegranate extract. Angiotensin converting enzyme which is involved in blood pressure control was lower in the experimental group  that received pomegranate extract and may be the mechanism for the lower blood pressure. Pro-inflammatory cytokines were reduced in the experimental group after treatment, an indication that hypertensive inflammation was reduced. The pomegranate extract treatment led to increased levels of phosphorylated AMPK which then leads to an increase in Nrf2 and its resulting increases in antioxidant proteins which protect against injury and inflammation from oxidative stress chemicals. (5)

Pomegranate is referred to as an ancient fruit in a research study on its benefits against hepatocellular carcinoma. Spoiler alert – it was found beneficial. (6)

“PE (Pomegranate Extract) treatment (1 or 10 g/kg), started 4 weeks prior to the DENA challenge and continued for 18 weeks thereafter, showed striking chemopreventive activity demonstrated by reduced incidence, number, multiplicity, size and volume of hepatic nodules, precursors of HCC (Hepatocellular Carcinoma).” (6)

One to ten grams per kilogram (1 to 10 g/kg) (6gives us a quantity but that is of the extract which is made with the juice, seeds and peel. The inner peel is whitish in color while the outer peel is vibrantly colored similarly to the juice. An average adult weighs somewhere around 70 kg (68 kg ~ 150 pounds) so the animal study used an equivalent of 70 to 700 grams of pomegranate extract. Five grams is about a teaspoon so 70 grams would be slightly less than 5 Tablespoons or about 1/4-1/3 cup which is roughly a half a pomegranate worth of seeds with the juice and would be a reasonable serving size. Ten times that would be more than a typical serving at approximately two and a half to three and a third cups of pomegranate extract per day, for 22 weeks (6– but if you have Hepatocellular Carcinoma that might sound good compared to other chemotherapy treatments.

My health and anxiety seems to be improved with a half a pomegranate worth of the seeds per day, or half in the morning and half in the evening when anxiety is worse. I have not tried using any part of the peel or interior whitish colored membranes so I don’t know what how edible they would taste. Pumpkin seed kernels are a higher fat food and the serving size is about 2 to 4 tablespoons, 1/8 to 1/4 cup as a snack my themselves or sprinkled on a salad. I prefer to have some of both foods every day. As well as other dark green leafy vegetables and herbs, beans, rice, nuts and other seeds, and ground lemon powder and/or lime or lemon juice. One healthy food alone isn’t enough to improve my health and mood on it’s own however the half a pomegranate can improve my mood when I’m having a worse anxiety moment. Pumpkin seed kernels are a higher fat and protein substance and don’t seem to have the quick acting mood lifting effect but I notice when I run out of them and don’t have any for a few days.

Regarding the “ancient fruit” reference in (6), yes pomegranate is mentioned in the Bible, Old Testament; 1 Samuel 14.2, “Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree…” and Old Testament; Haggai 2.19: “Is the seed yet in the barn? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still yield nothing? From this day on I will bless you.” (7)

Menu tips to be continued later, Happy holidays!

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. Li X., Han D., Tian Z., Gao B., Fan M., Li C.Li X., Wang Y., Ma S.Cao F.,

    Activation of Cannabinoid Receptor Type II by AM1241 Ameliorates Myocardial Fibrosis via Nrf2-Mediated Inhibition of TGF-β1/Smad3 Pathway in Myocardial Infarction Mice., Cell Physiol Biochem 2016;39:1521-1536, https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/447855 (1)

  2. Chase Purdy, The human tongue has a sixth sense and its a taste bud that loves carbs. Quartz, qz.com, Sept. 8, 2016, https://qz.com/776857/the-human-tongue-has-a-sixth-sense-and-its-a-taste-bud-that-loves-carbs/ (2)
  3. Wang Y, Ma S, Wang Q, Hu W, Wang D, Li X, Su T, Qin X, Zhang X, Ma K, Chen J, Xiong L, Cao F: Effects of cannabinoid receptor type 2 on endogenous myocardial regeneration by activating cardiac progenitor cells in mouse infarcted heart. Sci China Life sci 2014;57:201-208. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24430557 (3)
  4. Claude Prigent, Editor, Protein Phosphorylation, Publisher: InTech, Chapters published November 29, 2017 under CC BY 3.0 license InTechOpen.com, https://www.intechopen.com/books/protein-phosphorylation (4)
  5. Wenyan Sun, Chunhong Yan, Bess Frost, Xin Wang, Chen Hou, Mengqi Zeng, Hongli Gao, Yuming Kang,and Jiankang Liu,

    Pomegranate extract decreases oxidative stress and alleviates mitochondrial impairment by activating AMPK-Nrf2 in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of spontaneously hypertensive rats., Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 34246.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054377/ (5)

  6. Anupam Bishayee, Deepak Bhatia, Roslin J. Thoppil, Altaf S. Darvesh, Eviatar Nevo, and Ephraim P. Lansky.,  Pomegranate-mediated chemoprevention of experimental hepatocarcinogenesis involves Nrf2-regulated antioxidant mechanisms., Carcinogenesis. 2011 Jun; 32(6): 888–896. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3314278/ (6)
  7. Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Containing the Ole and New Testaments, Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York, 1952, 1 Samuel 14.2, page 297, Haggai 2.19, page 984 https://www.amazon.com/1952-Revised-Standard-Version-Bible/dp/B000U2L3E0 (7)

The idea of taking one capsule of ‘Nrf2 Activator’ seems unrealistic – to me

This is a continuation of the last post which expanded on a topic brought up in the previous post. Nrf2 is an important chemical produced within the body when hormone D is available to turn on the gene that encodes Nrf2 and then Nrf2 can activate many other genes which are the map/encode/are the recipe card for proteins which are our own natural antioxidants and which are important for detoxifying the oxidative stress free radicals which are a natural part of energy production – turning glucose/blood sugar into usable energy.

The idea of taking one capsule of an ‘Nrf2 Activator’ seems great and might seem like a natural idea to our medicine mindset, however medicine and food are different. Medicines that can be taken in one pill per day tend to be something that triggers other events and which might not be needed within every single cell. Food on the other hand is needed in every single cell, like if every cell were its own Taxi cab in need of gasoline and motor oil and radiator fluid and windshield wiper fluid and whatever other things go on within a motor vehicle – we just think about the gasoline because it is needed most often but the car also needs those other fluids which can be reused for awhile. Medicine in a single pill per day type is more like the windshield wiper fluid or motor oil – it lasts awhile but eventually runs out or becomes less efficient.

A brief glance at the list of phytonutrients and foods that help promote production of Nrf2 suggests that since it is needed in every single cell of the body – as energy production and free radical production take place in every single cell – that it needs to be produced in a larger quantity and more regularly throughout the day then any one capsule might be able to promote/activate.

Magic bullet/one pill a day medications are not the same as the essential building blocks of the bulk macronutrients, protein, fats, and carbohydrates; or even the same as the trace micronutrients, the vitamins, minerals, phospholipids and essential amino acids, fatty acids and essential sugars/starches (specialized types of carbohydrates), which are needed in smaller amounts then the bulk supply of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Improving intake of any one group is going to help health but to really help improve health all the groups, macro and micronutrients, are needed on a regular basis. Some can be stored longer than a day or two because they are fat soluble and are stored within cell membranes and other fat storage areas of the body but even those run out eventually. Vitamin D is a trace nutrient that can be made within our bodies during sun exposure if adequate cholesterol is available (it is a slight chemical modification of the cholesterol molecule) and supplies that are made during summertime in areas with seasonal changes can last throughout most of the winter but tend to start running out during early spring/late winter.

Skipping ahead a bit – I have several of the chronic conditions that were listed in the last post and I have several genetic differences from average that may be making it more likely for me to have difficulties producing some of the important factors involved in detoxifying oxidative stress chemicals. I have managed to change my diet enough to feel better and to have the chronic conditions be considered ‘in remission’ but I know that it has to do with my daily habits in diet and in the supplements that I’ve added to my daily routine. When I get forgetful or too stressed to remember the supplements or start eating fewer of the healthy foods I’ve added my symptoms can start returning very quickly. So the idea of taking one capsule of ‘Nrf2 Activator’ per day seems like a nice but very unrealistic idea. Every cell of the body produces free radicals all day long, they need antioxidants all day long, which means they need Nrf2 helping promote production of our own natural antioxidants – all day long.

I’ll get back to the menu and recipe ideas shortly but first a list of the supplements I take  – the herbal supplements can vary somewhat from month to month as they may all be beneficial but they all cost some money but they don’t cost as much as expensive hospital bills or expensive pharmaceuticals (chemotherapy for cancer can cost a quarter of a million dollars). I have to avoid some nutrients as my genetic condition leaves me at risk of excess for some things and my autoimmune hyperthyroid condition is made worse by too much iodine intake so I take some B vitamins and trace minerals as individual supplements everyday but I’m only going to list the herbal supplements here. They may be beneficial because they are likely to have some of the list of phytonutrients mentioned as promoting Nrf2 in the last post. I’m sharing this list not as a recommendation but as an example of what I find helpful to help keep my own autoimmune, chronic inflammatory bowel, migraine, chronic pain and itch problems mostly in remission and help with mood stability as I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the last few years – it can be made worse by menopause or may be menopause, I’m hoping to get more stable moods as I move further through ‘the change.’

-I try to get only supplements with vegetarian gelatin or gelatin free and free of modified food starch as those ingredients may make my health worse – in alphabetical order for ease of reference:

  1. Artemisinin – 200 mg, I just added this one, I’m not sure if I will continue it past the first bottles that I ordered.
  2. Astragalus – 500 mg – this is also a recent addition.
  3. Black Cohosh – 300 mg – this is for menopausal female support.
  4. Dong Quai – 1.13 grams – also for menopausal female support.
  5. A mixture for menopause support which contains Maca extract, Angelica gigas, Pholomis umbrosa, Cynanchum wilfordii, and Cordyceps extract (a beneficial mushroom). – 1590 mg total for the mixture. This is a recent addition but I’ve found the Black Cohosh and Dong Quai helpful for a few years.
  6. While on the area of menopause support I also have used a topical Wild Yam Extract cream for a natural source of progesterone. I’m better with it then without. Menopause for women starts as peri-menopause and the process can last more than a decade.
  7. Gingko Bilobo – 60 mg. I’ve taken this off and on for many years. It may be helpful for mental sharpness/brain vascular system. My migraines may have to do with blood vessel problems.
  8. Kava Root – 800 mg – I have taken this for a few months as it may help promote more stable mood and my mood swings were quite bad for a while.
  9. Milk Thistle – 1260 mg/ 240 mg active phytonutrients – This may help with liver health and I added when reading about the importance of the liver for basically everything else in the body. I’ve only been taking it for a few months/ half a year.
  10. Oil of Oregano – 60 mg – I eat Italian Seasoning in teaspoon quantities on my salads, it is an herb mix containing oregano however the health benefits are suggested to be beneficial for general health and the oil is a more concentrated source. Eating larger quantities of oregano would be very strong flavor. I’ve been taking the concentrated oil for at least a half a year or more, it seems helpful. It is difficult to really know if something helps – it is easier to tell once you run out of something and don’t replace it if you start feeling a little worse again.
  11. Resveratrol – 250 mg, with Quercetin – 150 mg – I’ve taken both of these off and on for many years. They are both antioxidants that may help with skin health and general well being is a good general term.
  12. Slippery Elm Powder – 400 mg – I’ve taken this off and on over the years whenever I have a bad cold with a sore throat as it was in a soothing tea. The herb provides a mucilaginous protective coating to the digestive lining. More recently I added it about a year ago when my digestive problems began – it’s my go to herb for gastrointestinal tract problems. Marshmallow Root powder would act similarly. I have recently also been having a Tablespoon of Chia seeds in water everyday as they also help the GI tract in a similar way. Water soluble fiber is another term for mucilaginous substances.

So taking one bottle with one capsule per day of an Nrf2 Activator sounds like a nice idea for a pharmaceutical representative but not for dietitian recommendation.

The list of phytonutrients, for convenience:

Specific foods or phytochemicals mentioned to help increase Nrf2 include:

  • sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables, (such as broccoli and cauliflower);
  • foods high in phenolic antioxidants, (This is a large group including bright yellow and red fruits and vegetables, and deep purple produce. The group includes the subgroup flavonoids which include anthocyanins, flavonols, and it also includes the less familiar subgroup chalcones which are found in the commonly used fruits apples, pears and strawberries. The group also includes aldehydes which are found in vanilla and cinnamon, phenolic acids which include salicyclic acid, and tannins which are found in tea, coffee and wine. Baking cocoa and cherries, beans and whole grains are also mentioned, the summary point would be eat more fruits and vegetables; see: (11))
  • the long-chained omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, (salmon, tuna, sardines, krill oil, ground flax meal, walnuts, hemp seed kernels);
  • carotenoids (especially lycopene), (such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and lycopene is in tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava); 
  • sulfur compounds from allum vegetables, (such as onions, garlic, shallots, green onions); 
  • isothiocyanates from the cabbage group and
  • terpenoid-rich foods. (Terpenes are found in real lemon and lime oil, rosemary, oregano, basil and other aromatic green herbs).
  • The Mediterranean and the traditional Okinawan Diets are also mentioned as being Nrf2 promoting diets. See: (1)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.