• Chia: An Ancient Superfood, the Latest Craze

    Chia is quickly becoming one of the most popular “superfoods”, and it’s a well-deserved distinction. You may already be familiar with chia seeds from pasting them on the famed Chia pets, but what you may not be familiar with is chia’s amazing nutritional profile. This is certainly a food worth further investigation.

    Nutrition

    Chia shines when compared to the foods we commonly consume for specific properties. It contains 5x the calcium of milk, 2x the potassium of bananas, 3x the antioxidants of blueberries, and 3x the iron of spinach. In addition, chia is a complete protein, an excellent source of fiber, and contains more Omega 3 fatty acids than flax seed! This is just an overview; chia also excels in vitamin and trace mineral content.

    History

    Chia comes from the Mayan word for “strength”. It has long been used in Native American cultures for sustaining energy on long journeys, and has even been nicknamed “Indian Running Food”. Chia was a highly valued substance in Aztec and Mayan cultures. It has recently become available to the rest of the world through individual efforts to cultivate it on a large scale. The work of these individuals should not be overlooked, because as Thomas Jefferson said, “no service can be rendered to a country that is more valuable than to introduce a new plant to the culture”.

    Uses

    There are accounts of chia helping with many conditions, but I have found that the greatest interest lies in three specific areas. The first is energy and stamina. Chia is quite popular among athletes, especially endurance athletes, but even if you’re not a very active person, you may be looking for a natural “energy boost”. Chia can potentially provide this.

    The second area is with intestinal regularity. Because chia is so fibrous, it adds significant bulk to the stool and can therefore help with digestive regularity. Among chia’s many unique properties is the ability to function like a broom, sweeping toxins from the intestines, where they have a tendency to accumulate.

    The area of greatest interest is probably as a potential dieting aid. Another of chia’s nicknames is the “dieter’s dream food”. Chia will expand when added to a liquid base so many people who are trying to lose weight find that they have a decreased appetite after taking a scoop of chia prior to a meal. The small seeds expand in your stomach, making you desire less food to be full. At the same time, and more importantly, it’s not at the expense of your nutrition, since chia is arguably superior to most of the typical American diet!

    Finally, health-conscious individuals who are only looking to improve the quality of their diet are often drawn to chia too.

    Forms

    Chia is available in many forms. It is most commonly consumed in the dry state (either “straight” or added to food) or expanded. To make a chia gel, place seeds in any liquid in a roughly 1:9 ratio (1 part chia to 9 parts liquid) and allow it to expand into a gelatin, stirring occasionally. You can add chia to any liquid (water, juice, etc.). The gel can also be frozen to make “freeze pops”.

    For those who do not like the texture of the seeds, capsule form is available. Chia can also be ground into or purchased as flour. This provides another gluten-free alternative to those with wheat allergies.

    Notes

    Do not use chia to treat disease. It is a food that can potentially increase your general health but should never be taken in place of medications, unless prescribed by your doctor. If you have any questions about chia, please consult with your doctor or nutritionist prior to starting.

    Chia seeds are contraindicated in any conditions that prohibit seeds, i.e. diverticulitis. Again, please consult with your doctor if needed. Chia is best consumed in the RAW and ORGANIC state. Once it’s heated, it loses some of its nutritional content.

    I prefer to take chia on an empty stomach in the morning. Then I know that other foods I’m consuming won’t interfere with the nutritional qualities of chia. Many people just sprinkle the seeds on their meals, which is an easy option for general health, but not the best for dieting.

    Get creative! Chia has no taste, but it can get boring over time, so think of ways to re-invent it. There are tons of recipes online.

    Purchasing

    Chia seeds are available at most natural health food stores. If you’re interested in purchasing chia online, it’s readily available through a host of dealers. The two companies I prefer to order from are www.Vitacost.com and www.iherb.com. My preferred brands are Navitas and Nutiva, as I strongly agree with their business philosophy, harvesting system, and product quality. If you decide to order from iherb, try coupon code WEL475 at checkout for $5 off of your first order.

    More information

    If you’d like to read further about chia, I believe the most comprehensive book available is The Magic of Chia: Revival of an Ancient Wonder Food by James F. Scheer. It’s really well-written and has a wealth of recipes that are divided by type (breakfast, main dishes, dessert, etc.). Angela Stokes has written a great introductory article to chia that is available online. This also includes recipes. http://www.rawreform.content/view/345/127/ A few years ago, Christopher McDougall published the wildly popular book Born to Run. It examines the “secrets” of long-distance runners all over the world. Chia is one topic he covers.

    Please feel free to contact me directly if you have further questions that I can help you with.

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  • Welcome to Wellness Works

    Pagoda Wellness would like to welcome you to our "Wellness Works" Blog. In this section, we will provide resources, stories, events, and ideas that can help you along your journey to personal wellness. Please feel free to interact with us- ask questions, comment, and share your personal experiences as it relates to the information presented in this blog. Health living and wellness begins with each of us making the right choices to intentionally and responsibly improve our lives. I hope that the information shared here will make that process a little bit easier.

    Thanks,

    Ashley

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Reading Eagle article on Body Zone's
1,000 lb. Challenge, to which Ashley
contributed: click here

ABC 27 interview and article on Chia, to which Ashley contributed: http://www.abc27.com/story/17146441/chia-seeds-no-joke-to-the-health-minded

WITF Wednesdays article on Chia, to which Ashley contributed: click here

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