kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

The Delta strain is taking over (ARGH! Covid, again) and just when things were starting to look like they were returning to normal! Once again, I am grabbing a mask for a quick trip to the store.

Can’t concentrate? Losing sleep? Binge eating your feelings?

It has been a stressful 18 months.

The Reverend angel Kyodo williams, a meditation teacher and author of the book “Radical Dharma” says “…The groundlessness that people feel is not really something the human body was meant to sustain over long periods of time.”

We can’t lose sight of the fact that, while we cannot change the course of elections or convince the unvaccinated to please get the shot, we CAN take care of ourselves.

Neuroscientist, psychologists, and meditation experts suggest that there are big and small things you can do to calm down. Releasing anxiety and gaining perspective helps prepare yourself for whatever comes next.

As you feel your anxiety level rising, try to practice “self interruption’. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Run an errand. Move your body and become aware of your breathing. Rev williams says, ”Interrupt yourself so you can shift your state. Get your attention on something else. Focus on something that is beautiful. Get up. Move your body and really shift your position…”

Judson A Brewer, the director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University says: Take a moment to focus on your feet. You can do this standing or sitting, with your feet on the ground. How do they feel? Are they warm or cold? Are they tingly? Moist or dry? Wiggle your toes. Feel the soles of you feet. Feel your heels connecting with your shoes and the ground beneath you.

“It’s a different way to ground yourself. Anxiety seems to be in your chest and throat. Your feet are as peripheral as you can get from your anxiety.”

A short burst of exercise, just three minutes, will improve your mood. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University wrote the book, “The Joy of Movement”. She suggests doing jumping jacks. Do wall push ups. run up and down the stairs a few times. Dance. 

“Anytime you move your muscles and get your heart rate up, you’ll get a boost in dopamine and sense yourself as alive and engaged.”

Get rid of clutter, make a scrapbook, get a new comforter, change the artwork in your house. By doing these activities, you are creating a supportive place for you to inhabit. Check out Dr. McGonigal’s TED Talk on stress. Working on your environment, McGonigal suggests is one of the ways we imagine a positive future.

Five finger breathing is a simple practice and easy to remember. It is often taught to children to teach them to calm themselves.  Dr. Brewer of Brown University has made a video explaining the technique, which works by engaging multiple senses at the same time as crowding outworking thoughts.

  • Hold your hand in front of you, fingers spread. 
  • Using your index finger on the opposite hand, start tracing the outline of your extended hand, starting at the wrist, moving up the pinkie.
  • As you trace up your pinkie, breathe in. As you trace down your pinkie, exhale. Trace up your ring finger while breathing in and breathe out as you trace down your ring finger.
  • Continue finger by finger until you have traced your entire hand. Now, reverse the process and trace from your thumb back to your pinkie, making sure to inhale as you trace up and exhale as you trace down.

Spend time outside. Watch birds. Wander in a local park. Recent research shows that consciously taking in the wonders of nature amplifies the mental health benefits of walking. 

Numerous studies support the notion that spending time in nature and walking in a quiet, tree-lined path can improve mental health and even physical changes to the brain. Nature walkers have quieter brains. Scans show less blood flow to the part of the brain associated with rumination. Some research shows that even looking at pictures of nature can improve your mood. Our brains prefer green spaces. One study found that people exercising and exposed to the color green found it easier to exercise and were in a better mood than exercisers exposed to grey or red.

Many of us are vertical breathers. We let our shoulders rise and fall and do not engage our diaphragms.  If you are breathing with your shoulders, you are using auxiliary muscles and you will have a higher heart rate, higher blood pressure, and higher cortisol. Relaxing and letting your diaphragm do the work will help you be calmer.

Distract yourself with a video of a dog and a cow playing in a field with a ball, or, if you are a cat person, a cat comforting a nervous dog. Instagram and YouTube are full of distractions. 

Take lavender foot bath, burn a scented synthetic-free candle or spritz the air with an orange scent. A study of 141 pregnant women found that rubbing or soaking feet with lavender cream significantly reduced anxiety, stress and depression. In a study with 200 dental patients, orange and lavender aromatherapy helped them relax before treatment. Lavender baths lower cortisol levels in infants.

Rev. williams says that having anxiety comes from our desire to have things be different. “We prepare for life as it unfolds, not our ideal image of it. That is, literally, the only path forward.”

Millet

The name “millet” refers to several different but related grains from the grass family Poaceae. They look like tiny corn kernels and cost about a quarter of what you can pay for quinoa, making them among the more economical grains available. They are also naturally gluten-free. Like many whole grains, millet can be purchased as flour or flakes.

Americans might think of millet as a main ingredient in birdseed. But in a third of the world, from Africa to Asia to Eastern Europe, people eat millet as a staple part of their diet. It’s one of the earliest cultivated grains and more than 6,000 varieties grow around the world. It’s a primary ingredient in flatbreads, beer and other fermented beverages, and porridges. In the United States, many commercially produced gluten-free breads use millet flour, either solely or in conjunction with flour milled from other gluten-free grains. Though technically a seed, millet functions like a whole grain, and you can cook with it like you would other whole grains, such as rice or quinoa.

Records show farming of Broom yard millet since 8000 B.C in China. The people of Sudan have been growing pearl millet since 4000 B.C and in Egypt since 3000 B.C. There is also a kind of millet named “panic” which has been growing in parts of Asia and Europe. Israelites started farming millet by 400 B.C along with the Greeks and Sumerians. The panic millet was also being used as birdfeed by many countries. The Chinese and the Africans started making beer and wine out of it.

It is an excellent crop which resembles the corn on a cob when growing. It can easily grow in cold and arid regions in a time span of as less as 70 days. Millet has multiple advantages over other crops, including drought and pest resistance. It’s also able to survive in harsh environments and less fertile soil. These benefits stem from its genetic composition and physical structure.

This crop is also divided into two categories, major and minor millets, with major millets being the most popular or commonly cultivated varieties.

Major millets include:

  • pearl
  • foxtail
  • proso (or white)
  • finger (or ragi)

Minor millets include:

  • Kodo
  • barnyard
  • little
  • Guinea
  • browntop
  • fonio
  • adlay (or Job’s tears)

Pearl millet is the most widely produced variety intended for human consumption. Still, all types are renowned for their high nutritional value and health benefits.

Like most cereals, millet is a starchy grain, meaning that it is rich in carbs.

One cup of cooked millet has:

  • Calories: 207
  • Carbs: 41 grams
  • Fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fat: 1.7 grams
  • Phosphorus: 25% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 19% of the DV
  • Folate: 8% of the DV
  • Iron: 6% of the DV

Millet provides more essential amino acids than most other cereals. These compounds are the building blocks of protein. Finger millet has the highest calcium content of all cereal grains, providing 13% of the DV per 1 cooked cup.

Millet is rich in niacin, which helps your body manage more than 400 enzyme reactions. Niacin is also important for healthy skin and organ function.

Millet, especially the darker varieties, is also an excellent source of beta-carotene. This natural pigment acts as both an antioxidant and as a precursor to vitamin A, helping your body fight off free radicals and supporting the health of your eyes.

Millet is rich in phenolic compounds, especially ferulic acid and catechins. These molecules act as antioxidants to protect your body from harmful oxidative stress. Studies in mice link ferulic acid to rapid wound healing, skin protection, and anti-inflammatory properties. Catechins bind to heavy metals in your bloodstream to prevent metal poisoning.

While all millet varieties contain antioxidants, those with a darker color – such as finger, proso, and foxtail millet – have more than their white or yellow counterparts.

Millet is rich in fiber and non-starchy polysaccharides, two types of undigestible carbs that help control blood sugar levels. Millet is rich in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The insoluble fiber in millet is known as a “prebiotic,” which means it supports good bacteria in your digestive system. This type of fiber is also important for adding bulk to stools, which helps keep you regular and reduces your risk of colon cancer.

The soluble fiber in millet can help reduce the amount of  cholesterol in your blood, a risk factor for atherosclerosis. Soluble fiber turns into a gel in your stomach and absorbs cholesterol, allowing it to be safely carried out of your system.

Millet has a low glycemic index (GI), meaning that it’s unlikely to spike your blood sugar levels.Millet takes longer to digest than standard wheat flour.  For this reason, millet is considered an ideal grain for people with diabetes. A study in 105 people with type 2 diabetes determined that replacing a rice-based breakfast with a millet-based one lowered blood sugar levels after the meal.

Despite millet’s multiple health benefits, it also contains antinutrients, compounds that block or reduce your body’s absorption of other nutrients and may lead to deficiencies. Phytic acid interferes with potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium uptake. However, a person with a balanced diet isn’t likely to experience adverse effects.

You can lower millet’s antinutrient content significantly by soaking it overnight at room temperature, then draining and rinsing it before cooking.

Plus, sprouting reduces antinutrient content. Certain health food stores sell sprouted millet, though you can also germinate it on your own. To do so, place soaked millet in a glass jar and cover it with a cloth that’s secured with a rubber band.

Turn the jar upside down, rinsing and draining the millet every 8–12 hours. You’ll notice small sprouts beginning to form after 2–3 days. Drain the sprouts and enjoy them right away.

How to Buy

Look for millet with the other whole grains in the bulk bins, the baking aisle, or possibly with the cereals at natural foods stores and most grocery stores.

You can also purchase it online.

Millet flour should be available with other specialty flours. You may also be able to find ready-to-eat puffed millet cereal, similar to puffed rice cereal.

When shopping for millet, you should still look for a label that certifies it gluten-free to ensure it hasn’t been contaminated with any gluten-containing ingredients.

 

How to Store

Store millet sealed in an airtight container in a cool, dark pantry, the refrigerator, or the freezer, where it should last for up to two years. Millet makes a good candidate for long-term storage of emergency rations; in a sealed container with oxygen absorbers, it keeps for many years.

How to Cook

Millet has a reputation for being fussy to cook, but the easy-to-follow formula makes it possible to turn out a fluffy pot every time.

For a toothier whole grain preparation, use 2 cups of water for each cup of millet; for a softer, creamier result, increase the water to 3 cups. Bring it to a boil, then add salt (optional) to the millet, cover the pot, and turn the heat down. Keep a close eye on the pot as it simmers, checking the texture at 15 minutes if you plan to use it as a grain side dish such as pilaf. If it’s done, you can drain off any water the grains didn’t absorb or continue cooking for up to an additional five minutes. For a softer and creamier millet, such as with a breakfast porridge, simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring periodically.

Creamy Millet Breakfast Porridge

Felicia Lim and Blissful Basil

2 Medium Bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked millet
  • 1 cup almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup + more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Sliced strawberries, for topping
  • Chopped almonds, for topping

Instructions

  1. Combine uncooked millet, almond milk and water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Once liquid starts boiling, lower heat to medium and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until millet is cooked and tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Add vanilla and maple syrup and mix well for another 30 seconds.
  4. Serve the millet breakfast porridge topped with sliced strawberries and chopped almonds.

Resources

https://blog.shambhalamountain.org/category/mindful-living/
https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/how-to-deal-with-stress
https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QVqMaWrP-s
http://kellymcgonigal.com/books
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29429650-radical-dharma
https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/10/election-stress
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1541-4337.12012
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124105409000016
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-011-0584-9
http://ejfa.me/index.php/journal/article/view/981
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2019.1686342
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996918302941
https://www.scielo.br/j/cta/a/s4s53P79kYwWD4hNbY39xFn/abstract/?lang=en
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464613000625
https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-millet-3376839
https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/core/profile
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31353706
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26566827
http://www.jsirjournal.com/Vol5_Issue2_04.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5404511/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30968267
https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168871/nutrients
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29803440
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19301095
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23522794
https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-niacin#1
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5448381/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30724208
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20465288/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30235459
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28213267
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20465288/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29677167
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037128/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28361824
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5983567/

[/db_pb_signup]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This