Category Archives: 5 Fast Facts

5 Fast Facts: Folic Acid

  1. An insufficient intake of folic acid during pregnancy can cause neurological birth defects like spina bifida.
  2. A pregnant woman’s need for folic acid is highest in the first trimester.  All sexual active women of reproductive age should take a folic acid supplement.
  3. Combines with Vitamin B12 in an essential process for the formation of healthy red blood cells.  A lack of folic acid leads to anemia.
  4. Folic acid is necessary for the conversion of toxic byproduct homocysteine to a safe amino acid.  Elevated homocysteine levels are a cardiac disease risk factor.
  5. Leafy green vegetables, beans, and milk are the primary sources of folic acid in our diet.

5 Fast Facts: Diabetes

The airwaves have been buzzing this week with celebrity chef Paula Deen’s announcment she has developed type 2 diabetes.  Most people know diabetes is not a good thing to have, but perhaps aren’t sure why.  Time for a (very) quick tutorial….

  1. Diabetes is simply our body’s inability to process blood sugar from our food properly.  Nothing more.
  2. Insulin is our hormone responsible for moving blood sugar into our cells so it can be used for energy or stored.
  3. Type 1 diabetes develops from birth when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough, or any, insulin.  Type 2 diabetes is developed in adulthood through an improper diet.
  4. An improper diet of junk food leads to insulin sensitivity and diabetes.  Think of insulin sensitivity as overworked insulin not being able to handle blood sugar as well as it should.
  5. Chronic high blood sugar from diabetes damages parts of our bodies, particularly small blood vessels.  The end result is nerve damage in the extremities (primarily lower legs), blindness, cardiovascular problems, and kidney dysfunction.  Quite serious indeed.


Five Fast Facts: Black-Eyed Peas

The legume, not the hip-hop outfit.

1)      Not surprisingly, black eyed peas are members of the legume family.  They see green beans at family reunions.

2)      Considering the familial connection, it makes sense black-eyed peas look similar to green beans while being cultivated.  Unlike green beans, we traditionally eat the peas without the pod.

3)      Although origins are in dispute, consuming black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is considered lucky.  The tradition is particularly common in the southeastern United States.

4)      There are many great ways to prepare black-eyed peas.  Here’s four

5)      I always felt Fergie ought to be upset Justin Timberlake stole her thunder on their first hit “Where is the Love?”.  Perhaps that’s what “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was about…

5 Fast Facts: Supermarkets

You’re local supermarket is a wondrous place.  It’s the one spot everyone in your neighborhood visits regularly.  Likely at least once a week.  Can you think of any other destination so common among your neighbors?  I certainly never see Mrs. Toomanycats bellied up at the local bar.

Here’s five facts about this central gathering point.  Because the more you know…

1)      The healthiest food is along the walls.  Junk food in the middle.  Simple as that.

2)      The fastest moving foods are hard to get to.  Where’s the dairy section in your grocery?  Probably way in the back.  Since milk is bought so regularly it’s stuck back there so you have to walk through everything else.  Hello, impulse buy!

3)      There are up to 40,000 products in a supermarket.  Makes you feel pretty smart you can actually find what you’re looking for, eh?

4)      Prime shelf space goes to the highest bidder.  The all important eye level shelves cost food companies much more “rental” space than the ankle dwellers.

5)      They are a business.  Hey, nothing wrong with that.  This IS America, damnit.  Just remember, they want you to buy more food, not necessarily healthier food.  You’re on your own there.

-Adapted from Marion Nestle’s What to Eat

Five Fast Facts: Potassium

#1  Potassium’s role in the body is much different, and more important, than a typical mineral.  Potassium is considered a special type of mineral called an electrolyte.  Sodium is our other primary electrolyte.

#2  Potassium and sodium work together to control water flow into and out of our cells.  Therefore, potassium plays a key role in proper hydration.

#3  Potassium also works to control electrical impulses in the body.  These impulses are essential for proper heart rate and nerve function.

#4  Supplementation is neither beneficial nor necessary.  Potassium supplements are prescription only.  Although electrolyte infused drinks help maintain hydration during exercise.

#5  Aside from the famous banana, you can find lots of potassium in raw veggies, apples, oranges, potatoes, raisins, and ground beef.

Have a great weekend!

5 Fast Facts: Magnesium

A little brain food for you today.  Introducing Five Fast Facts.  Quick tidbits on nutrients and other dietary related matters.  First up, Magnesium!

  1. 50-60% of all the Magnesium in the body is found in your bones.
  2. Magnesium is essential to the proper function of over 300 enzyme systems in the body.
  3. Outside of bone structure the 3 most important roles for magnesium are: muscle relaxation, nerve signal transmission, and making stored sugar available for energy use.
  4. Top 3 dietary sources: Nuts, Fish, and Whole Grains.
  5. Magnesium citrate is the fastest working laxative available without a prescription.  Be near a bathroom (and hopefully alone) when using.

Hope you feel a little smarter!  I know I do…