Healthy Bodies
  • Southeast Wisconsin
  • February 2013
Written by  Karmen Nenahlo

Expert answers to your health and wellness questions – Eating your veggies, substituting white with whole-wheat flour and detoxing your digestive tract

Question: What’s best for vegetables — fresh or frozen?

Answer: Vegetables are vegetables. The key here is that you’re eating them — be it fresh or frozen. When eating fresh vegetables, choose ones that are in season for enhanced flavor. If choosing to cook your vegetables, remember that the vitamin and mineral content of produce is greatly influenced by high temperatures, exposure to light and acidity. To maximize the nutritional value of cooked vegetables, here are a couple key recommendations:

  • Cook your vegetables for as short an amount of time as possible. Hallelujah for the microwave!
  • Minimize the amount of water used to cook vegetables to prevent leaching of nutrients into cooking water.

As winter approaches and farmers’ markets become a fleeting memory, so does access to fresh produce. Turning to frozen vegetables is a viable replacement during those cold winter months, as vegetables are flash frozen at their nutrient rich peak. Maximum nutritional value and a lower price (generally) — you can’t beat that!

Question: How do you replace white flour with whole-wheat flour in baking?

Answer: The major motivator for replacing white flour with whole-wheat flour is the obvious nutritional advantage. Whole grains can help lower blood pressure, reduce risk of chronic disease, aid in weight maintenance and provide additional fiber. So why not bake a little extra healthiness into your favorite foods? Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. Whole-wheat flour behaves very differently in a recipe than white flour. Therefore, certain adjustments must be made when substituting whole wheat for white. First off, substituting whole-wheat flour for white flour one-to-one is a no go. Whole-wheat flour absorbs much more liquid, so it may be necessary to add more liquid or decrease whole-wheat flour by ¼ cup. Now I must provide this disclaimer: the texture of baked products is altered when whole-wheat flour is used in place of white. When using whole-wheat flour, the product becomes denser. This is because the germ, a component of the wheat that is removed from white flour during milling, inhibits gluten formation. Gluten is a protein that makes extensive networks, assisting baked products in rising. Less gluten = less rise and therefore a less fluffy product. The food industry and sensory scientists have been working for years to successfully create a whole-wheat product with the same texture as white flour. We’re still waiting! In the meantime, a good way to combat this texture issue is to compromise — use half white flour and half whole-wheat flour. You get the added nutritional benefit, and the product remains edible. You can also try adding a tad bit more baking powder or baking soda (other key players in leavening that baked good).

Question: Short of taking pills, powders and potions, what else can I do to detox my digestive tract?

Answer: We’re coming up on that time of year when want to have a rocking bod, but everything is working against us — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. What do all these things have in common? They all focus on food (and most times, too much food). Luckily there are a handful of yoga postures that can health-ify your gut in no time without the hunger pangs of a juice cleanse. These poses include:

  • Paschimottanasana (Seated forward fold): In a seated position with legs long, gently extend arms overhead and reach for toes. Focus on lengthening the chest on inhales and pulling the chest towards thighs on exhales.
  • Ushtrasana (Camel pose): Come to your knees with your feet hips-width distance apart. Place hands on lower back as if placing into back pockets. Extend gaze towards the ceiling while gently beginning to lean back.
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated spinal twist): Come to a seated position with your left leg extended long and right knee bent over left. Gently twist to the left, placing the left arm at the base of the spine and your right arm on the right knee. Repeat on other side.
  • Supine Spinal Twist: In a supine position, hug your right knee into your chest. Gently pull the right knee over the extended left leg, reaching the right arm out to form a “T” and gazing right. Repeat on other side.

Most of the postures focus on one of two movements to the stomach and small intestine: twisting/rinsing or stretching/lengthening. When performed together, these movements encourage the body to eliminate toxins. Our digestive tracts go through a lot — that’s why it’s important to take a second and show our bodies some love. Incorporating some of these yoga poses into your daily routine may aid in digestion, improve acid reflux, relieve pain and combat gastrointestinal disturbances.


Karmen Nenahlo is with Anytime Fitness, the world’s largest 24/7 co-ed fitness frachise. For more information, visit http://anytimefitness.com.

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