Rocky Gorge WellNews Early Spring 2022
Welcome to Our Early Spring Newsletter!
As we reawaken our tastebuds this spring, our nutritional emphasis in this edition of RGW is on the amazing health benefits of mushrooms. We will also share with you three great stretches for strengthening your core health.
Make Room for Mushrooms
They aren’t plants or animals. But as primitive as mushrooms seem, fungi are complex organisms that support nearly every ecosystem in the world. Of millions of species, we use a small fraction for food and medicine. What we consume are the fruiting bodies that sprout above-ground (or on wood), supported by a complex, hidden network of mycelium. They are surprisingly nutritious!.
Stephanie Clarke’s Washington Post piece, “Shedding Light on How Mushrooms are Good for Your Health,” directs our attention to the mineral content of mushrooms, especially potassium, which is essential to heart health, and the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine, which support immunity. According to the Mushroom Council, they also contain copper, niacin, riboflavin, B vitamins, and virtually no calories. Beta-glucans, a soluble dietary fiber found in mushrooms, have been clinically tested with positive results. Findings reflect their ability to resolve insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and other heart disease risks, such as high cholesterol.
Fun fact: Did you know that exposing the undersides of certain mushrooms to ultraviolet light stimulates Vitamin D production, as our own bodies do?
Types of Mushrooms
In addition to the familiar varieties for eating, such as white buttons, cremini (Baby Bellas), portabellas, and shiitakes, the more “exotic” types are now more accessible, such as enoki, morels, porcini, Lion’s Mane, and oyster. More recent attention focuses on the therapeutic value of mushrooms for addressing everything from cognitive to physical issues. You may have noticed various preparations, such as dried mushrooms, powders, capsules, and extracts, of varieties such as reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail, chaga, maitake, and others. Red yeast rice supplements are used for controlling high cholesterol.
Food We Can Rely On
We can see, then, why mushrooms are enjoyed as meat substitutes in sauces, soups, stuffing, and burgers. Grilled portobellos make a satisfying filling for sandwiches. Blend chopped mushrooms with ground meat to reduce calories and boost flavor.
Dried mushrooms are a great addition to your pantry. Their flavor adds a touch of “umami.” In addition to the four basic flavors – salty, sweet, sour, and bitter – umami is a fifth savory taste that lends a hard-to-describe meaty flavor without the meat. These flavors come from a combination of amino acids, including glutamates and nucleotides. Don’t worry: the glutamate levels in mushrooms are not nearly as concentrated as MSG. To add some umami to your dishes, steep dried shiitakes or porcini in hot water for half an hour, then use the reconstituted mushrooms and the liquid in your dishes. A little goes a long way.
Our recommendation: We believe that mushrooms are more nutritional when cooked or processed, rather than raw. A few slices of raw mushrooms your favorite spinach salad won’t hurt, though!.
Adapted from Susun Weed’s “Your Healthy Heart Online Course.”
These ingredients feed your immune system and lower your cholesterol.
- Chop 1-2 large onions and sauté in olive oil until soft.
- Mince several cloves of garlic according to taste and sauté for a few minutes with the softened onion.
- Add to the onions and garlic: 1-1/2 thinly sliced cups of fresh shiitake caps OR 1 cup dried shiitakes that have been hydrated in hot water and cut into pieces.
- Sauté for 5 or more minutes
- Pour in 8 cups cold water OR 4 cups of water plus 4 cups of mushroom and/or vegetable broth and turn heat to high.
- Grate a piece of ginger root about the size of your thumb and add to the soup.
- Add 1 teaspoonful each of fresh or dried thyme, rosemary, and parsley.
- Stir in up to 1 tablespoon of salt, soy sauce, or tamari.
Slowly bring to a boil and simmer on low for about an hour.
This soup keeps well for several days.
Getting to the Core: The Core Matters!
What is the core?
Rather than one muscle, our core is comprised of several muscles in our torso that support our functional movement. The core extends from the rib cage to the pelvis. Our core muscles are used when we lift and carry objects, push and pull open doors, and when we and sit and stand.
Why is it important to strengthen your core?
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says that “a strong core protects the spine, reduces back pain, enhances movement patterns, and improves balance, stability and posture.” The greatest benefit in having a strong core is back health. Even if you carry “extra padding” in your midsection, if your core is strong, you are less likely to be pulled forward by the weight, which puts strain on back muscles and spine while sitting, walking, lifting, and doing other activities. .
Our core is deeper than “six-pack abs.” Some people striving for this goal may do traditional sit-ups and crunches obsessively. These exercises can cause disc compression and should be avoided by those with compromised back health.
Exercises for the Core
ACE advises that “the most important thing to remember when training the core is to avoid using momentum and instead perform each exercise with awareness so that the core is actually braced or engaged.” So here are three exercises that can achieve core strength in three planes of movement: lying, sitting, and standing.
Lie on your back on an exercise mat with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Gently tighten your core towards your back. Raise your arms overhead in a narrow “V” position while inhaling through your nose. As you exhale through your mouth, slowly roll your shoulders off the mat (Pilates scoop), tuck in your chin toward your chest (head nod) and extend your hands toward your knees. Hold for two seconds (don’t you’re your breath – remember to breathe normally) and release. To begin with, repeat three to five times, gradually building to more reps.
Seated Plane Hinge
Sit at the edge of a seat, preferably cushioned. Keeping your spine straight, hinge your hips forward with your hands extended in front of your chest. It’s preferable if you’re holding an 8-inch ball but not necessary. Gently tighten your core muscles. Then hinge back two to three inches, hold 2-3 seconds, and return to starting position. Repeat 3-10 times as you gain core strength.
Standing Plane Lateral Hinge
Stand tall with your legs shoulder width apart. Do not lock your knees; keep them soft. Gently tighten your core muscles as you do with the above exercises. Slowly lift your elbow to the height of your shoulder while reaching down with your right hand, extending your palm to the side of your right knee, or as close to your knee as you are able. Hold for two or three seconds. Repeat five times and then do the same stretch on your other side. As you progress with this movement, you can use 3–5-pound weights.
As always, if you any questions regarding any of these exercises or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact Abby!