Health Benefits of Pumpkin

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Justification for all the great pumpkin recipes out there:

1. Great for weight loss!

One cup of cooked pumpkin has between 60-80 calories and up to 7 grams of fiber, meaning it will keep you feeling full longer. Studies have shown that fiber lowers the glycemic load of a meal, preventing blood sugar spikes and excess insulin output that leads to insulin resistance. This means that eating pumpkin can help you maintain a stable blood sugar, which helps fight sugar cravings, and overall can help you lose weight.

2. Eating pumpkin can brighten eyes, skin, and prevent cancer!

One cup of pumpkin provides 200-700% of the daily value of vitamin A.  Vitamin A and carotenoids (the phytonutrient that gives pumpkin their orange color) are great for eye and skin health. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which is important in keeping eyesight sharp, especially in dim light. Vitamin A and carotenoids brighten skin by reducing sebum production and preventing acne. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, protecting skin from the damaging effects of the sun and preventing skin cancer.

3. Great for post workout recovery!

For any of you who have ever experienced muscle cramps following exercise, you may need to be replacing electrolytes- especially potassium and magnesium. We’ve all heard that bananas are a good source of potassium, but did you know that pumpkins are even higher in potassium than bananas with 500 mg per one cup serving? Pumpkins also have 14% of the recommended daily value for magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure and prevent muscle cramps. Try this delicious smoothie following your next workout!

4. Great source of iron!

Dietary iron is necessary for preventing iron deficiency anemia. Iron is used to produce hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for carrying oxygen in our red blood cells. Without enough iron, we can’t make hemoglobin and our red blood cells can’t transport enough oxygen to our tissues. This can cause fatigue, exercise intolerance, and heart palpitations. Foods we usually think of as being high in iron are red meat, and dark green leafy vegetables, but pumpkin is also a great source of iron with 1 cup containing 20% of the recommended daily value. Pumpkin also contains 17% of the daily value for vitamin C, which is great for enhancing iron absorption.

5. Pumpkin is highly anti-inflammatory!

Inflammation is what we think of with all the disease processes ending in “-itis.” But many other diseases are thought to be triggered by inflammation (cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even Alzhemiers). Inflammatory foods are those that are processed, high in sugar, trans fats, are too high in omega-6 fatty acids (think agri-industry meat) and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. Anti-inflammatory foods are high in vitamins, minerals and compounds called phytonutrients and phytosterols- found in plants and unprocessed whole grains. Wild caught, cold water fish (high in omega 3s) is also considered anti-inflammatory. Pumpkin- in minimally processed form- is considered highly anti-inflammatory as it is high in phytonutrients and fiber, and low in sugar!

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5 diet tips to kick your seasonal allergies

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Fall should be a time to enjoy the outdoors, admire changing leaves, and revel in cooler temperatures. But with increasing global temperatures and changing wind patterns, seasonal allergies at an all time high this fall. I can’t tell you how many friends, colleagues and patients I’ve seen suffering with itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throats, sneezing and general allergy misery. Seasonal allergies can be tricky to treat, but the following simple diet tips may help alleviate your allergy symptoms long term. Best part- none of the drowsy-ing side effects of anti-histamines!

1. Avoid your food sensitivities!

The most common sensitivities are wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, and nuts. You can try an elimination diet or have your doctor order a food sensitivity panel which detects antibodies in your blood to specific foods. Avoiding these foods can decrease the inflammation in your body, helping to modulate your immune system so that it reacts less to the pollens, mold, and dust mites that are associated with seasonal allergies.

2. Alkalinize

When the body is in an acidic state, it is more prone to producing histamine- that molecule that makes us feel itchy. There are a few simple ways we can shift our bodies to a more alkaline state. First- start your day with a cup of warm water with a tablespoon of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar. This not only alkalinizes the body, but improves digestion. Second- eat more vegetables! Third- eat less animal fat and red meat, which increase the production of arachadonic acid- a molecule associated with inflammation.

3. Eat whole foods

Emphasize whole grains, low animal fat and more fiber. This will encourage your body to gently and naturally decrease its toxin load, leaving it less likely to react to the common allergens.

4. Increase healthy dietary fat

Healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, wild-caught salmon, and flax. These healthy fats convert to a molecule called prostaglandin-3 (PGE-3) which acts an an anti-inflammatory in the body.

5. Decrease sugar consumption

Sugar not only acidifies the body, it encourages the production of inflammation. So even though the sugar doesn’t necessarily cause allergies, it can make your symptoms significantly worse. Sugars include refined white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup and alcohol. Small amounts of local, raw honey can actually help seasonal allergies! (Make sure never to give honey to children under the age of one)

To learn more about how you can control your seasonal allergies or for information regarding food sensitivity testing, call Integrative Medical Associates  at (520) 297-9664 and ask to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rose