Pumpkins aren’t just for Hallowe’en
A few weeks ago, we started two Nutrifit classes, our public course and an on-site corporate course, too.
It's so exciting getting so many people on to an optimum nutrition strategy, I just have to make sure they don't bolt during the intro session!
For some people, going through guidelines that reduce caffeine and alcohol to a fraction of their previous intake is daunting. Add in the challenge of eating half a plate of “green” at lunch AND dinner and some of our adults start to break a sweat. And that's before I've even mentioned collagen or chia seeds!
The good news is that the people with the major changes to make are also the people that get to see the major makeover. Results are motivating and when the weight starts dropping off and energy increases exponentially, people become very motivated to see it through.
Ultimately, Nutrifit isn't really a diet, it's more a philosophy that you apply to how you feed yourself. I always make the analogy that we wouldn't give Cheetos and Diet Coke to our pets or our babies, so why do we do it to ourselves?
Ultimately, eating junk is extremely bad for us, too. Why is it OK to undernourish ourselves? Why do we as adults require less care or concern than our children or our animals? So at the forefront of the teaching is a principle to simply choose food that nourishes you.
An easy example: if you have to have something sweet, avoid a bag of Skittles (refined sugar and artificial dyes) and have dark chocolate (antioxidants) with almonds (more antioxidants and protein and fibre and good fats). Do you see the difference?
Generally speaking, although I ask people to avoid the bad stuff, we're so busy packing their diets full of good stuff that there is simply less room for the bad to come in. It's a “crowd it out” strategy and it can be really effective.
One of the things I ask people to start adding to their diets (either to cereal, oatmeal or as a snack with fruit) is pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are rich in the omega-3 fats, which are often so lacking in westernised diets. Omega 3 is important for anti-inflammatory pathways and for nourishing your nervous system. It also improves the efficacy of insulin within the body — a good thing for blood sugar management — and it's heart healthy, too (helping lower blood pressure and keeping LDL bad cholesterol in check). What's not to love?
Eating plain, raw pumpkin seeds is great, but you can also try the lightly roasted pumpkin seeds by Eden Organic (most grocery stores) or the lightly salted Superseedz at Miles (near the checkouts). Miles also stock a ground seed mix by Linwoods (gluten-free section) that includes pumpkin seeds, which is an easy add-in to muffin or banana bread recipes. It's also great added to cereal, oatmeal or yoghurt, too.
Pumpkin seeds are pretty amazing for their nutrient density. I was double-checking the information and their nutritional profile is impressive. See below for a few quick bullets that should give you the motivation to include them.
Pumpkin seeds: micronutrient profile
This is a trace mineral that's essential for helping you build your own collagen and improves the density of your bones. It helps with blood sugar control and reduces free-radical damage (think disease and ageing), too.
Rarely mentioned, copper is essential for improving blood volume, providing energy to every single cell in your body and is a great antioxidant in its own right.
This mineral is found in every cell in your body and is key in genetic processes. If you've heard that drinking soda can increase phosphoric acid (not great for bone density) which is true, don't be concerned that eating pumpkin seeds will do the same thing. The opposite is true.
Ah, the best supporting actor of the mineral kingdom! Quietly plays a vital role in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Improves bone density, energy, blood sugar control and assists with balancing your nervous system, too. If you have Restless Leg Syndrome, you probably need more magnesium.
A critical cofactor in vital enzyme reactions within your body. Important for immune function, fertility, hormone balance in general and skin health.
So snack on them, sprinkle them on salads, bake with them or throw them in a smoothie, but do include them!
• Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram