Do I Need Zinc?

Building a robust immunity is all part of a holistic approach to coaching and training. So how do you minimise your risk of getting sick? 

There are many nutrients that contribute to a healthy immune system.

Today’s focus is on ZINC. Athletes may be more susceptible to being deficient in zinc because exercise, particularly strenuous and endurance exercise, increases zinc requirements, encourages zinc loss through sweating, and changes zinc transportation and metabolism.

In nutrition, zinc plays the most critical role in supporting athletes and immunity.

ZINC SUPPORTS IMMUNITY AND SO MUCH MORE

Zinc regulates several crucial processes in both your innate and adaptive immune system.  Being deficient in zinc can lead to athletes becoming more susceptible to respiratory illness, particularly in the colder months. 

Apart from zinc’s well-established role in immunity, this mineral, contributes to protein structure, regulates gene expression, metabolism and is the second most abundant trace element in the body after iron.  Zinc deficiency can impact an athlete through hormone dysregulation (testosterone, thyroid, and growth hormones to name a few) and may affect erectile function and fertility.

Zinc is essential to maintaining optimum performance due to its function in metabolism and healthy cell division – essential in repairing damaged tissues after you exercise.

Studies show being deficient in zinc can lead to a reduction in the number of fast-twitch muscle fibres and muscle mass and performance decline.  For Masters Athletes this is of particular relevance as aging is also associated with sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance.

Zinc also helps maintain blood sugar control and assists with muscle contraction during exercise, glucose metabolism, and glycogen storage.

Zinc also plays an essential role in antioxidant production by increasing antioxidant activity and inhibiting free radical production that may damage tissues, impact liver function, and prevent muscle exhaustion.

WHERE TO FIND ZINC 

The most concentrated sources of zinc are contained in animal products, particularly meat, seafood and dairy.   Vegan and plant-based athletes may be more susceptible to zinc deficiency due to reduced dietary intake, lowered gastric acid (which is zinc dependant) and higher phytate consumption.  Phytates found in plant-based zinc rich foods such as legumes can inhibit zinc absorption. 

Soaking nuts and seeds and legumes prior to cooking is a great way to minimise this issue and allow for greater micronutrient absorption.

SUPER CHARGE ABSORPTION

The gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in maintaining total body zinc homeostasis by regulating zinc absorption and excretion. In order to boost your absorption, the addition of a probiotic may be beneficial. Choosing the best probiotic can be confusing.

In certain situations, zinc supplementation may be recommended. The amount ingested, supplement form, and the timing of zinc matters. This is where a qulaified Nutritionist with an interest in sport is beneficial rather than self-prescribing. You’ll definitely want to avoid zinc toxicity. High zinc levels can have a detrimental impact on your performance through anaemia, copper and iron deficiency and unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

TESTING FOR ZINC

60% of zinc is stored in muscle and 30% in bone therefore serum may not be the best measure of zinc homeostasis.  A mineral test can be another alternative method of assessing zinc levels and is available through my clinic.

If you need help building a robust immune system, book an appointment today https://eatinginmind.com.au/contact/

Orange and Almond Buckwheat Muffins

Buckwheat is a nutrient-rich, gluten-free plant source, which may boost heart health, reduce blood pressure, and help manage diabetes. It can also help improve digestion and strengthen the immune system. Its impressive range of proteins, minerals, and antioxidants help in skin and hair health, elimination of gallstones, protection from asthma attacks, and relief from constipation and other intestinal conditions.

Buckwheat, despite what its name suggests, is not a cereal or a wheat product. It is a fruit seed that comes from the buckwheat plant, also commonly called the beech wheat plant, and is related to rhubarb.

Buckwheat contains high-quality protein that delivers all of the eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which is usually lacking in grains. The gluten-free grain also contains two powerful flavonoids which act as antioxidants, rutin and quercetin. It is very rich in vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) copper, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and manganese.

What’s with Gluten?

Did you know that oats and wheat have different glutens? Gluten is actually a family of proteins found in grains including wheat, oats, rye, spelt and barley.

The main gluten proteins are different according to the grain.

Interestingly, most people who react to “Gluten” actually react to gliadins in wheat and are ok to eat other types of grains such as oats or rye.

If you have trouble digesting gluten, it is important to test for Coeliac disease; an autoimmune condition where antibodies are produced in the presence of gluten and attack your digestive system. This is a true Gluten Allergy.

Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity is also a condition that affects a large percentage of people. Symptoms can include those of IBS, bloating, acid reflux, abdominal pain, chronic aneamia, joint pain, brain fog, fatigue and more.

ORANGE AND ALMOND BUCKWHEAT MUFFINS

Gluten Free Vegan Orange and Almond Buckwheat Muffins

Preheat oven to 160 Degrees

Ingredients (makes 18 small muffins)

2 cups buckwheat flour

1 cup almond meal

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp bicarb

1 tbs vanilla extract

3 tbs flaxseed meal (instead of egg)

1.5cups water

Rind of one orange

Juice of that one orange

1 cup of frozen organic blueberries (optional, but highly recommended!)

Method

Place all buckwheat flour, almond meal, sugar and bicarb, orange rind, in a large mixing bowl.

To make the flaxseed egg combine the flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl and stir and set aside. This should become thick as the flaxseeds expand and the water is absorbed.

Pour the juice, vanilla extract, flaxseed egg into the bowl and stir until combined well.

Line the cup cake try with muffin papers and fill.

Bake for about 12-15mins or until the tops spring back and the muffins are golden. Can check with a wooden skewer.

Winter Berry Crumble

This gluten-free gut loving tray of wholesome goodness is the perfect winter treat to enjoy on a cool evening with a cup of tea and a blanket. The essential winter comfort treat.

You can use your favourite mix of berries. I’ve used a combination of fresh strawberries and frozen organic berries.

Fresh Strawberries and frozen Blueberries

The crumble has the perfect crunch, a mixture of almonds, walnuts, seeds and coconut.

Crumble mixture

While most crumble recipes include the usual refined white sugar, this recipe uses rice malt syrup. Never let crumble leave you feeling guilty and bloated again. This healthy version is full of gut loving good fats and berries full of antioxidants and phytonutrients which have antiinflammatory properties and can help support a healthy body.

Rice malt syrup and extra virgin coconut oil

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds or a mix of both
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice malt syrup
  • 1 tsp of the best vanilla essence

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot (tapioca flour)
  • 700 g mixed berries

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Place all the topping ingredients in a bowl and combine well, ensuring all the ingredients are well coated.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove and set aside to cool – it will get crunchy once it cools down.

Place the berries in a saucepan with the rice malt syrup and tapioca flour. Mix gently to combine. Simmer over low heat for 10mins.

Transfer to a 20 cm dish and break the cooled crumble into pieces and sprinkle over the top of the berry mixture. Serve warm or cold.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this recipe. I hope you enjoy making and eating this beautiful crumble like we all did!

Christine X

Eggplant and Chickpea Curry

This mildly spiced, easy, eggplant spinach & chickpea curry is on the menu on repeat in autumn.

It’s a one pot dinner so no fussing about with more pans. It is mildly spiced for the sake of my daughter but you can add more heat if you wish. A finely chopped green chilli added when you add the garlic and ginger will do the job nicely. My daughter loved this but I guarantee you she wouldn’t love it so much if there was more heat involved.

This eggplant spinach and chickpea curry can be made a day ahead if you like.

Ingredients

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Vegetarian Chilli

Ahhh Autumn. The colour of the landscape starts to change as the leaves get ready to fall. The duration of daylight becomes noticeably shorter and the temperature cools considerably. And, in the kitchen I start to look for more comforting warm and satisfying meals.

One of our favourites for the cooler weather is Vegetarian Chilli.

It might look like a mighty long list of ingredients but this chilli is really 14 minutes of prep and you can sit back and relax while waiting for the magic to happen and the flavours to develop in the pot.

I’ve served this on it’s own (it is a complete meal!) or with steamed vegetables, or as a filler for tacos and nachos, or in a bowl with brown rice and avocado….. once you master this chilli there is no going back.

Ingredients

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Grain Free Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

The school holidays are the perfect time to get in the kitchen with the kids and get creative. And we all know how hungry the kids are during the holidays!

These chocolate brownies have been a hit in our house this weekend.

Slightly tweaked recipe from previous brownies and it has taken a bit of trial and error – but that’s what baking is all about for me. I love experimenting with flavours and recipes.

Ingredients

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GRAIN FREE VEGAN ALMOND COOKIES

Everyone loves a cookie (or two).

That morning coffee indulgence, or 3pm (or even midnight) snack.

These cookies are packed full of almonds. And with the added Tahini which is also rich in healthy fats, amino acids as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Tahini is packed full of all the goodness as well as being high in calcium.

Tahini can also help to balance hormones. Hormones plays an important role in managing our weight, sleep, hunger cues, libido, mood and our sanity! When our hormones are off balance from poor lifestyle habits and food choices we feel it pretty quickly. 

If balancing hormones is your #1 priority this is the most delicious place to start, full of good fats, protein and nutrients your hormones (and taste buds) are going to love you for this!

Here is my recipe for the simplest & easiest minimum effort  

5 I N G R E D I E N T Grain Free Vegan Almond cookies with Tahini.

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Moist and Decadent Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake is the moistest most decadent chocolate cake you will ever eat. There is nothing healthy about this cake – I think if you want to have chocolate cake then you should have chocolate cake!

I am replacing our family chocolate cake recipe with this one – it will be at every birthday party from now on. Not because it is vegan (we have one vegan in our house) but because it was minimal effort for an amazing cake! Noone even knew it was vegan (except my daughter).

The kids thought it was the best chocolate cake ever and devoured it. We were all eying off the last slice.

If you wanted to be fancy and show off or needed a dinner party dessert you could always decorate with raspberries and toasted coconut.

Ingredients

375g dark (70% or darker) chocolate, chopped

2 x 400ml cans coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour (or can replace half of this quantity with almond meal)

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons cocoa

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm round cake pan. Line base and side with baking paper.

Place 150g of the chocolate, 2½ cups of the coconut milk and the vanilla in a microwavesafe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%), stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. Make a well. Add chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place remaining chocolate and coconut milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth. Stand for 2 hours to thicken slightly.

Split cake in half horizontally. Spread 1/2 the ganache over bottom half of cake. Top with remaining half. Spread remaining ganache over top of cake.

Healthy Thai Green Curry

I NEVER want my clients eating a boring, monotonous diet. Eating the same mundane food day in and day out is only going to intensify those cravings and lead you back to square one.

Life is about flavour. It’s about enjoying your meals.

This Thai Green Curry recipe is a great way to spice up your weekday meals while still eating healthy.

Green curry paste is usually spicy. You can substitute for yellow paste which is a bit more mild.

If you’re feeding kids that don’t like chilli, you can always sprinkle the chilli on your own dish when you serve.

Here’s what you need:

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The BEST Banana Bread

Because who doesn’t love a piece of plant based moist choc chip banana bread smothered in peanut butter?

This banana bread tweaked from my original banana bread recipe as I need to cater for a vegan.

And, not too high in sugar so in my opinion you can have your cake and eat it too!

And, while I don’t necessarily agree with some food alternatives, this one seems to tick the boxes.

I like to serve this with a dollop of dark roasted crunchy peanut butter.

Recipe is super easy

2 large ripe bananas

¼ cup maple syrup

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup coconut milk

½ tsp vanilla

Mash bananas and mix all wet ingredients in (except the ACV)

Then

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp ACV (apple cider vinegar)

Combine baking powder, baking soda and ACV and ex[pect a little bit of magic (fizzing), then mix into the wet ingredients.

½ cup vegan choc chips

1 cup SR flower

1 cup buckwheat flour

Stir through the choc chips and flours.

Bake in a lined loaf tin for about an hour at 160c