Food Acids We Consume Regularly

Food acids are the vital acids found in natural and synthetic food products that give them a distinct flavor or a tinge. Many fruits, vegetables and dairy products contain some type of acid. Human body tends to react differently to different types of food acids. Some of these acids provide nutrients or help alleviate some maladies whilst some have adverse effects on health when they are not consumed in appropriate amounts.

Citric Acid: This is a natural preservative found primarily in citrus fruits. Limes and Lemons are the best sources of citric acid, followed by other citrus fruits and strawberries, tomatoes and pineapples. A great quantity of all the citric acid produced is contained in soft drinks and other beverages, where it boosts flavors and adds a slightly sour taste. Citric acid also acts as a preservative and flavor enhancer in foods, including frozen foods, meat products, canned vegetables, jams, gelatins, candies.

Malic Acid: This is a component of many of the foods that we eat daily; mainly contained in candies, diet sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks due to its ability in masking artificial flavors and alternative sweeteners. The food that is most famous for its high malic acid content is the apple. Other fruits with a very high concentration of the acid are lychees, peaches nectarines, cherries, tomatoes, bananas, mangoes, and strawberries.

Tartric Acid: This compound is naturally found in many plants, particularly in grapes, tamarinds, pineapples, potatoes, carrots and bananas. It is also one of the especial acids found in wine. Tartaric acid can be added to food when a sour taste is desired. Tartaric acids have a dual role of an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory which can help boost the immune system and promote overall wellness.

Acetic Acid: Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid, is a sour-tasting compound best known for the sour taste and pungent smell in vinegar, pickles, and sourdough bread. Its produced by fermenting and oxidizing ethanol and the distillation of wood. Acetic acid has many functions, but it is mostly used as a chemical reagent, fungicide, herbicide, and solvent in a variety of industries such as food, agriculture, cosmetics and cleaning.

Oxalic Acid: Oxalates or Oxalic acids is a compound occurring in many plants and vegetables. It is also produced in the body by metabolism of glyoxylic acid or ascorbic acid and does not go through metabolism but excreted in the urine. The body is known to absorb oxalic acid from only a handful of foods, including peanuts, pecans, cocoa, guava, rhubarb wheat bran, spinach, beets and beet greens and chocolate.

Benzoic acid: A natural source of benzoic acid is gum benzoin, which comes from certain tree barks, but, it can also be made by synthetic means. Benzoic acid is very useful as Preservatives to make food products last longer, and also eradicate harmful yeast and bacteria. Benzoic acid is present in various products, including Cranberries, prunes and plums sauces, jams, jellies and candied fruits.

Butyric acid: Butyric acid also known as butanoic acid, is a saturated short-chain fatty acid with a 4-carbon backbone occurring in the form of esters in animal fats and plant oils. Butyrate is produced as end-product of a fermentation process such as, decomposition of butter solely performed by obligate anaerobic bacteria. It is found in milk, especially sheep and buffalo milk, goat, cheese and butter.

Lactic acid: This is an organic compound which is white and water-soluble in its solid state and colourless in its liquid state. It is produced both naturally and artificially but naturally present in many foodstuffs via natural fermentation in products such as cheese, yogurt, soy sauce, sourdough, meat products and pickled vegetables. Lactic acid in food products usually serves as either as a pH regulator or as a preservative. It is also used as a flavoring agent.

Tannic Acid: Tannic acid, or tannin, is a bitter-tasting compound that is derived from plants. It is the component of red wine or unripe fruit that makes your mouth want to ruck. Grapes contain a high concentration of tannins which is critical to the art of wine making. Other products that contain this acid are Green Tea, nettle, oakwood, berries, Chinese galls, persimmons.

Caffeo-tannic Acid: This is a Chlorogenic acid, from coffee, yielding caffeic acid by precipitation with baryta and salts of lead. It is known for relatively lower toxicity and used widely in many other fields like food, feed additives and cosmetics.

Child Development Stages – Definition and Importance

Child development stages are the theoretical milestones of child development. Early childhood is a time of tremendous growth across all areas of development. Physical changes in early childhood are accompanied by rapid changes in the child’s cognitive and language development. Children learn in many different ways and each child has his own pace of learning.

Developmental milestones are divided into four major skills:

Speech or language skill: It involves both, verbal and nonverbal communication. Language skills develop best in an environment that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.

Cognitive skills: These are centered on child’s ability to think, learn, and solve problems. Cognitive skill development in children involves the progressive building of learning skills.

Social Skills: This involves child’s ability to gain an understanding of their emotions as well as emotions of others. These milestones also involve learning how to interact and play with others.

Gross motor skills: It involves both large-motor skills and fine-motor skills. The large-motor skills are usually the first to develop like sitting, standing up etc. wherein fine-motor skills involve precise movements such as grasping a spoon, holding a crayon etc.

Importance of child development stages:

• Monitoring development stages of your kid may help you in recognizing any development delays. However, every child grows and changes at his or her own pace and exposure to a suitable environment may help them in catching up.

• Even though babies develop at their own pace, every baby should meet the infant milestones by a certain age, or early intervention is needed. It is important to know the physical, language, cognitive, and social milestones for babies.

• Early diagnosis can be really helpful in catching up on development milestones delays. It is important to get the right diagnosis because with a diagnosis kids can get the help and therapy they need to thrive.

• A healthcare provider may be consulted in case parents notice extreme delays among children in reaching age specific milestones.

• A developmental milestone is an ability that is achieved by most children by a certain age. Kids love to learn new things by exploring and discovering. They love to solve problems during play and in daily activities. Having a safe,loving and stimulating environment at home and spending time with family members while playing, singing, reading, and talking can help children in achieving such milestones. Proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep pattern also can make a big difference in child development.

Can Plant Foods Be Bad For Your Health?

Plants appeared on land about 450 million years ago, long before the first insects arrived 90 millions years later. Until the insects turned up, plants could grow and thrive in peace. But when insects and eventually animals arrived, plants had to fight for their own survival; otherwise, they could very well become someone’s dinner.

For this reason, plants have since evolved an array of strategies to protect themselves or their seeds from insects and animals, including humans. They may use an assortment of physical deterrents, such as color to blend into their surroundings, an unpleasant texture, a gooey substance such as resins and saps that entangle insects, a hard outer shell such as coconut, or spine-tipped leaves such as artichoke.

Additionally, plants have developed biological warfare to repel predators by poisoning or paralyzing them, or reduce their own digestibility to stay alive and protect their seeds, enhancing the chances that their species will survive.

One common defensive plant chemical is lectin. Insects become paralyzed when they eat these plants. Since humans are much much bigger in size, we may not notice any harmful effects right away. However, we may not be immune to the long-term effects of eating such plant compounds on a continual basis. Research in recent years have associated a number of illnesses with lectins in the diet. They include arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

What Are Lectins?

Lectins are a type proteins that bind to carbohydrates. In fact, lectins are present in varying amounts in pretty much all forms of life, such as plants, animals including humans, bacteria, and viruses.

Not all lectins are harmful to humans, some are actually beneficial and may even have cancer prevention properties, such as those in avocado, bitter melon, garlic, and herbs such as astragalus and licorice. But here, we are only going to focus on the potentially harmful plant lectins.

Lectins are especially concentrated in seeds because seeds are the plant’s babies, the future generation. There are two basic types of seeds:

Seeds that plants want predators to eat –

  • These seeds are encased in a hard coating designed to survive a trip all the way through the predator’s gastrointestinal tract. Fruit trees are a good example of this type of seeds. The objective is to have the fruits eaten and wind up a distance away from the mother plant. This way, they will not compete for sun, water, and nutrients and have a better chance of survival.
  • The plant often uses color to attract the predator’s attention. When the fruit is unripe, it is typically green. When it turns yellow, orange, or red, it signals ripeness and is ready to be eaten. By the way, animals that eat fruits also have color vision. Unripe fruits are often high in lectin, a message to the predator that it is not ready to be eaten yet. When the hull of the seed hardens, the fruit becomes ripe, the color changes, and the lectin content goes down.
  • Nowadays, we tend to pick the fruits premature so that they can survive long travel distances. When they arrive at their destination, they are then given a blast of ethylene oxide gas to the make the fruits appear ripe. Unfortunately, the lectin content of these fruits remain high because the protective hull of the seeds have yet to be fully developed.
  • Furthermore, the plant chooses to manufacture fructose in its fruits, not glucose. The reason is that glucose raises blood sugar and insulin, which initially raises leptin, a hunger-blocking hormone that signals fullness. But fructose does not do all that, so the predator never receives the “full” signal to stop eating and the plant achieves its purpose.

Seeds that plants do not want predators to eat –

  • These are naked seeds that plants do not want insects or animals to eat them and transport them elsewhere. Hence, they contain one or more chemicals that will weaken the predators, paralyze them, or make them sick so they will not make the mistake of eating them again.
  • These chemicals are generally referred to as anti-nutrients. They include phytates (prevent absorption of minerals in the diet), trypsin inhibitors (hinder digestive enzymes from working), and lectins (cause gaps in the intestinal lining or leaky gut). Whole grains and beans contain all three of these substances!
  • Other chemicals include tannins (which gives a bitter taste) and alkaloids (nitrogen compounds) found in the nightshade family, including eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. These delightful vegetables can be highly inflammatory for certain individuals.

Potential Harmful Effects Of Lectins In Humans

Lectins are plant proteins. Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is a type of lectin. In humans, lectins bind to sialic acid, a sugar molecule found in the gut, in the brain, between nerve endings, in joints, as well as the blood vessel lining. This binding process can potentially interrupt the communication between cells and trigger inflammatory reactions in the body.

Cause leaky gut –

Our intestinal lining is one cell thick. The intestinal cells allow only vitamins, minerals, fats, sugars, and simple proteins to pass through. When the intestinal lining is intact, lectins which are larger proteins cannot get by. However, lectins can pry apart the tight junctions in the intestinal wall by binding with receptors on certain cells to produce a chemical compound called zonulin. Zonulin opens up the tight spaces between the cells and allow the lectins to get into our circulation. Once there, it sets off the immune system to attack these foreign proteins, creating a cascade of inflammatory responses.

Cause autoimmuity –

This is when the body’s immune system gets confused and begins attacking its own cells. Through evolution, plants have created proteins like lectins that resemble the critical structures of their predators, such as our organs, nerves, and joints. When lectins get through the intestinal wall, they activate the immune system to attack both the lectins and our critical structures that resemble these lectins.

Cause disruption in cellular communication –

Lectins can mimic some hormones and disrupt the transmission of signals between cells. For example, the hormone insulin enables muscle cells to allow glucose to enter, providing fuel for the muscles. This is done by insulin docking at the insulin receptors on the muscle cells. However, certain lectins can also bind to the insulin receptors. When this happens, the insulin cannot do its job. Blood glucose stays high and the muscles do not get their fuel.

Why Now? What Changed?

Not everyone is sensitive to every lectin. The longer our ancestors had been eating a certain leaf or plant part that contains a lectin, the more opportunity our immune system and gut bacteria had to evolve to tolerate that lectin. However, the time frame for this evolution is not years or decades, but millennia. Since our modern day diet is so significantly different from our ancestral diet, it is no surprise that our bodies are unable to catch up and cope.

Agricultural revolution –

In the hunting and gathering days, humans used to eat primarily leaves, tubers, and some animal protein and fat. With the advent of the agricultural revolution about 12,500 years ago, grains and beans were introduced. Till then, the human immune system and gut bacteria had never encountered these lectins.

A slew of new plants and new lectins –

  • About 500 years ago, Europeans started exploring the Americas and brought home a whole array of new plants and lectins, including the nightshade family (eggplants, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes), beans (legumes, peanuts, and cashews), grains, pseudo-grains (amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa), the squash family, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Moreover, in the last 50 years, we introduced GM (genetically modified) soybean, corn, and canola. These plants have never existed in the history of mankind.

Our system is overwhelmed by lectins-

  • These days, we unknowingly consume substantially more lectins than a few generations ago. The processed foods and fast foods that we eat are heavy in corn, soy, and wheat, all packed with lectins.
  • Corn and soy have become the typical feed for cows, chickens, and fish in industrial farms. As a result, the lectins in the corn and soy fed to these animals also end up in their flesh, milk, and eggs. Even so-called organic animals contain lectins because they too are fed corn and soy, though organic and not genetically modified. Pasture-raised animals, on the other hand, will not contain these corn and soy lectins.
  • Another problem with corn and soy is that their fat profile is mostly omega-6 fats. Remember omega-6 is inflammatory and omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. So, the fats in the corn and soy-fed animals are are also higher in omega-6 fats and more inflammatory than animals fed their natural diet. For example, grass is high in omega-3 fats, so grass-fed beef is high in omega-3 fats as well.

NSAIDs cause leaky gut –

Scientists found that over-the-counter painkillers, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) damage the lining of the small intestine. Individuals who regularly use aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex, or Naprosyn are prone to have leaky gut, creating the opportunity for lectins to get into the circulation and cause havoc.

What Are The High Lectin Foods?

People who are struggling with inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, thyroid dysfunction (especially Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity need to be particularly careful with high lectin foods. Those taking NSAIDs should also watch out as these drugs have been shown to increase leaky gut, which allows the toxic lectins to enter the bloodstream.

Whole grains –

  • These days, everyone believes that whole grains are healthier than refined grains, but is it really?
  • For thousands of years, the privileged classes always opted to eat white bread. Brown bread was reserved for the peasants because white bread is easier on the stomach.
  • Similarly, white rice has always been the staple grain in China, India, Japan, and other Asian cultures. The hull is always stripped off to make white rice because the hull is where the lectins are.
  • All grains, except millet and sorghum, have hulls and hence, lectins. Removing the hull and fermenting the grain will reduce the lectin content (for instance, sourdough bread), however, fermentation will not completely remove all the gluten.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes such as black beans, soybeans, lima beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, and cashews contain high amounts of lectins. However, a substantial amount can be neutralized by proper cooking methods.

  • Soak the beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, frequently changing the water. Adding baking soda to the soaking water will boost the neutralization of lectins even further. Rinse the beans well before cooking.
  • Cook for at least 15 minutes on high heat. Cooking beans on too-low a heat will not be able to reduce the lectin toxicity. Avoid any recipe calling for dry bean flour, as the dry heat of the oven will not effectively destroy the lectins.
  • The best way to destroy lectins is to use a pressure cooker.
  • Sprouting and fermenting will also dramatically reduce the lectin content.
  • Avoid peanut oil and peanut butter. Avoid soybean oil, soybeans, tofu, edamame (green soybean), soy protein and textured vegetable protein (TVP). The only exception is fermented soy, such as tempeh and miso.

Nightshade vegetables

  • Nightshade vegetables are high in lectin content, they have the tendency to promote inflammation and leaky gut for certain individuals. They are particularly problematic for people with joint pain.
  • Eggplants, potatoes (not sweet potatoes or yam), tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers (not black pepper), and goji berries all come from plants in the nightshade family.
  • Removing the skin and seeds of tomatoes and peppers will reduce the lectin load.

Vegetables with seeds

  • Any vegetable with seeds is actually a fruit and will have higher lectin content.
  • Examples include cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes (all kinds), zucchini, melons, peas, sugar snap peas, and green beans.
  • Removing the skin and seeds will reduce the lectin load.

The Healthy Plant Foods

  • All kinds of leafy greens, especially those from the cruciferous family, such as arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, and watercress.
  • Vegetables and fruits that are high in resistant starch are very beneficial to the friendly bacteria in the gut. They include celery root, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), jicama, parsnips, plantains, taro root, turnips, and unripe fruits like green bananas, green mangoes, and green papayas. (These three green fruits are exceptions – they are low in lectins.)
  • Other vegetables that help your gut bacteria are artichokes, asparagus, beets, Belgian endive, celery, carrots, garlic, hearts of palm, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, and radicchio.
  • Nuts particularly macadamias, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.
  • Fruits (except avocados) should only be eaten in limited quantities due to the high fructose content. Eat local and in-season fruits.

Healthy Eating – What You Should Know About Biological Value

As you go about planning your menu, one thing you will want to take into account is something called biological value (BV). Most people are quite good at staying on top of research so they can figure out which foods hold the most nutrients and which ones will help optimize health the best. Where many go wrong, however, is forgetting because if a food is nutritious, it does not mean it will be fully utilized by the body. That is where the biological value (BV) comes into play. Biological value refers to protein-rich foods and discusses how well these foods will be utilized after they are consumed.

Here is what you need to know…

Factors Impacting Biological Value. While BV is a static number, keep in mind there are some factors able to influence the natural biological value of the food you are eating.

These factors include:

  • the frequency in which you consume your protein. Eating protein every few hours throughout the day can help increase the BV more than eating one or two large meals with a higher serving of protein in each meal. This is one reason to space your calories out into six mini meals rather than three large ones.
  • the speed in which the amino acids hit your bloodstream. Generally speaking, the slower the amino acids hit your bloodstream, the better they will be absorbed and utilized, so do what you can to slow them down.
  • The best way to do this is to ensure you consume some dietary fat with each protein serving as fat slows the rate of digestion.
  • whether or not exercise has been performed. Exercise will naturally increase your ability to utilize the nutrients you feed your body immediately following a workout, so do whatever you can to eat a post-workout meal in within minutes of finishing.

A post-workout protein shake is a must for optimal results.

So as you can see, a biological value is not black and white. Factors do impact the value. Still, it can serve as a general guideline.

The Biological Value Of Foods You Are Eating. So this said, below is the listing for the BV of a variety of foods you have likely included in your menu. The higher the rating, the better the protein will be utilized:

  • eggs (whole) – BV = 100
  • eggs (whites) – BV = 88
  • chicken/turkey – BV = 79
  • fish – BV = 70
  • lean beef – BV = 69
  • cow’s milk – BV = 60
  • whey protein isolate – BV = 159
  • casein protein – BV = 77
  • soy protein – BV = 74

Keep these values in mind as you plan out your meals. For optimal protein retention, choose foods with the highest biological value whenever possible.