Are you eliminating carbs from your diet? How's that going?

    I came across some stats recently that, frankly, don't surprise me. Nine out of 10 dietitians* believe that Canadians are confused about carbohydrates, and need to understand the role they play in a healthy diet. First it was Atkins, then The Zone, then the Dukan. I honestly can't tell you how many people in my life actually do not consume bread, let alone any grain products whatsoever. Do you?

    Here are a few compelling reasons you should consider eating some good old-fashioned grains like oatmeal or toast:
    • Energy – For energy and optimal brain and organ function. And according to a clinical study by the Archives of Internal Medicine**, carb eaters feel happier, calmer and more focused.
    • Nutrients – Vitamins and minerals such as B-vitamins, iron magnesium, zinc, selenium and protein. Protein is essential for repairing and maintaining tissue and muscle. (Two slices of Dempster’s®WholeGrains™ 12 Grain contain 10 grams of protein. Bet you didn't know that!)
    • Disease Prevention – An important source of fibre, which may help maintain blood sugar and reduce cholesterol levels. People who eat more whole grains also tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and digestive issues.
    Almost every Canadian dietitian surveyed said that they eat and serve good carbohydrates to their families. This supports Canada’s Food Guide, which states that Canadians should eat 6 to 8 serving of grains, and at least half should come from whole grains such as bread, whole wheat pasta or brown rice – all good carb options.

    “Recognized North American health authorities suggest that 45 to 65 per cent of daily calories should come from carbohydrates,” says RD Cara Rosenbloom, who has teamed up with Dempster's Canada to help Canadians incorporate the right carbs into their diets. “One of the most versatile, quick and tasty options is whole grain bread.”

    Rosenbloom offers the following quick options for busy families:
    • Health Conscious: Whole grain toast topped with pressed cottage cheese, strawberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon
    • For the Kids: Vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and sweet peppers with hummus dip
    • Before the Gym: Half of a nut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread
    *Survey Methodology: The Research House interviewed 150 Canadian Registered Dietitians during the period of November 28 – December 8, 2011; the margin of error is +/-8.0% at 95%.

    ** Archives of Internal Medicine, Volume 169 (no. 20), November 9, 2009 

    You have a magnesium deficiency

    One nutrient that has been receiving more attention in medical journals lately is magnesium, which is a vital nutrient that is sorrily missing from our diets. Health Canada reports that 42% of Canadians are deficient in magnesium, with Newfoundlanders at 65%. Chances are that you have a deficiency.

    Magnesium gets no love! 

    Historically, people got their daily dose from organ meats, seafood, mineral water, or swimming in the ocean - which are all activities performed less frequently by modern populations. In addition, modern soils have mineral depletions and magnesium sometimes gets removed from our water supplyThe RDA in the US for adults is between 320 and 420 mg daily, and the average US intake is around 250mg daily.

    So, now that we've established you probably have a magnesium deficiency, what does that mean?

    We see commercials from dairy lobbyists on television - milk farmers, yogurt companies - demonstrating that calcium builds bones or that calcium has been demonstrated to help people lose weight. What these commercials do not indicate is that supposed super-star minerals like calcium and vitamin D rely on magnesium to be activated into the 75 trillion cells in our bodies.

    If we are consuming calcium and not enough magnesium, that calcium will build up in our heart, organs and tissues. Although its widely practiced, calcium supplementation can cause a wide range of health issues due to an imbalance when there is a magnesium deficiency. Calcium and potassium work in tandem to with magnesium in the body to perform a number of functions.

    Magnesium is also very important on a cellular level for cellular energy and biochemical reactions. If your magnesium is too low, you can experience muscle cramps, arrythmias, and even sudden death.

    What will more magnesium mean?

    The most noticeable place you will experience the effects of increased magnesium in your daily diet will probably be in:

    1. Your ability to sleep through the night without waking up, and
    2. Your body's overall management of stress

    Where can I get more magnesium?

    The following foods provide more than 100 mg per one cup serving. Look at the list and be honest with yourself. How many of these foods are you eating on a regular basis?

    • Almonds
    • Artichokes
    • Barley
    • Buckwheat
    • Cashews
    • Halibut
    • Navy Beans
    • Oats
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Seaweed
    • Spinach
    Consult your doctor before beginning any health program or taking any new supplements, but I've had great success in consuming Natural Calm, a Canadian magnesium supplement product, before bedtime. I'm a fussy sleeper and I've noticed that I fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly through the night. They make some great cases for magnesium as an aid to insomnia on the Natural Calm website.

    Kind & Generous

    Those of you who follow this blog will likely notice that it’s been some time since I posted new content. In the past, I’ve referenced the phenomenon of blogger’s guilt that I experience when my contributions lapse. I’ll always wrestle with this, but I had somewhat of a revelation I wanted to share with you. 

    Towards the end of 2011, I noticed that one of my contacts on Twitter, Andy Donovan, had posted a link to my last blog post, entitled Liquid Gold. I replied to Andy and expressed my gratitude for his kindness, and mentioned, somewhat apologetically, that it had been some time since I posted fresh content. 

    His response was salient and concise. He wrote that blogs are a creative medium, like any other, and creativity will always ebb and flow. I started this blog for many reasons – to explore a blogging platform to educate myself for my career in digital strategy, to share my passion for food and health, and to meet others with similar interests and passions. 

    What I never expected was that anyone (beyond my friends and family) would necessarily read my writing, let alone derive any value from my musings. Ultimately, I discovered how wonderful it is to put thoughts and ideas into the universe that resonate with other people. The best part of having a blog is hearing back from YOU, the readers so I want to express my sincere gratitude to you for following Sift, Dust & Toss over the past three years and look forward to many more of those lovely interactions in the months and years to come. 

    Happy 2012, everyone! It's going to be a great one.