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Amazing Benefits Of Chia Seeds (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits Of Chia Seeds (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

“Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”. It is little wonder that these seeds were given this name by the Mayans, as there are many amazing benefits of chia seeds that do indeed give your body strength. Although the Mayans and the Aztecs regarded chia seeds as an important food source their unique properties as a food was only rediscovered in recent times.

What is this unique seed comprised of?

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of Chia seeds contains: 11 grams of fiber; 4 grams of protein; 9 grams of fat (5 of which are Omega-3s); 18% of the RDA of calcium; 30% of the RDA of manganese; 30% of the RDA of magnesium and 27% of the RDA of phosphorus. They also contain potassium, zinc, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 (niacin).

As we can see chia seeds contain a high percentage of fiber, protein, and Omega 3 fatty acid. Chia seeds are 40% fiber, by weight and this makes them one of the best sources of fiber in the world. By weight, they are about 14% protein, which is high in comparison to other plants. As Chia seeds also contain amino acids the human body is able to use the protein they contain efficiently.

Chia seeds contain more Omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram, however, the fatty acid chia seeds contain is ALA and humans are not good at converting this into DHA (the most important Omega-3 fatty acid).

Let us take a closer look at the amazing benefits of chia seeds and see how incorporating them into our daily diet can be of great benefit.

The benefits of chia seeds

1. Digestive Health

The high fiber component of chia seeds helps promote bowel regularity. When they are eaten chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach due to the soluble fiber found in the seed. This gel-forming action can act as a prebiotic, which fosters the growth of probiotics in the gut.

2. Heart Health

Studies have shown that a diet that includes chia seeds, soy protein, oats and nopal, can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation. However, a separate study that just looked at just chia seeds did not find any improvements to cholesterol readings or inflammation. This does not necessarily mean that chia seeds do not have a positive effect on heart health it may simply suggest that chia seeds need to be one part of a diet that is geared towards heart health.

3. Cure Diabetes

Chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, which indicated to researchers, from the University of Litoral in Argentina, that they may be useful in preventing metabolic disorders (like dyslipidemia – excessive fat in the blood – and insulin resistance). Such metabolic disorders are can be part of the cause of diabetes. The studies which were published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that chia seeds were proven to stop diabetes and even reverse it.

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4. Boost Your Energy

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning came to the conclusion that eating chia seeds can help improve exercise performance. Using chia seeds as a performance enhancing food finds its precedent; legend has it, in Aztecs and Mayans cultures.In the study half of the athletes drank only Gatorade. The others drank half the amount of Gatorade and made up the remaining amount of Gatorade with a chia drink. The workout lasted for 90 minutes.

The result was that consuming half Gatorade and half chia drink was just as beneficial as drinking the full amount of the Gatorade drink. The study thus suggests that the chia seeds provide athletes with extra carbs they need for endurance events while decreasing their intake of sugar.

5. Stronger Bones

One ounce of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Calcium aids in the maintenance of bone strength and mass and is thus fundamental to bone health. Boron, another essential nutrient for bone health, is also found in Chia. Boron helps metabolize calcium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium all of which are essential in the growth of healthy bones.

6. Lose Weight

The high protein and fiber content of chia seeds means that they are very useful in helping you lose weight. The fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which gives a feeling of fullness. It also slows the absorption of food. Protein often acts to reduce one’s appetite, thus the protein found in chia seeds may help you feel less hungry.

Studies that have looked at the effects of chia seeds on weight loss have not found any relationship between the intake of chia seeds and weight loss. Nevertheless, adding chia seeds to an overall healthy diet may prove to be a useful addition.

We have seen many of the amazing benefits of chia seeds. A lot can be said for this nutrient packed seed and it is clear that adding chia to your daily diet can prove to be of great benefit to your overall health. Let’s take a look at some great recipe ideas that will show you ways to incorporate chia seeds into your daily foods.

Chocolate Pistachio Chia Shake

chia recipe Chocolate Pistachio Chia Shake

    Ingredients

    1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus more to thin if desired
    2 tablespoons black chia seeds
    3 whole medjool dates, pitted
    1/3 cup roasted + shelled pistachios, plus more for topping
    3 frozen medium + very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or use coconut milk yogurt for a vegan option
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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    Instructions

    In a small bowl mix together the milk and chia seeds. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes.

    Meanwhile add the pistachios and dates to the bowl of a food processor or high powered blender. Blend until the mixture becomes finely chopped and almost butter like, scraping down the side as you go. You want to get it as smooth as possible. I let the mixture blend for about 5 minutes.

    To the blender add the chia seeds + milk mixture, the frozen banana chunks, cocoa powder, greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. If the shake is too thick add more milk to your liking.

    Chia Oat Pitaya Super-Bowl

    chia recipe Chia Oat Pitaya Super-Bowl

      Ingredients to Blend

      1/3 cup oats
      3 tbs. chia seeds
      1 cup coconut water (filtered water will work, too)
      1 banana (fresh or frozen)
      1 dragonfruit smoothie pack
      1/2 cup frozen raspberries and blueberries
      1 kiwi
      1 tbs. maca powder (optional, energy boost)
      1 tbs. psyllium husk (optional, helps digestion)
      1 tsp. spirulina

      Toppings: Handful frozen blueberries and raspberries, handful goji berries, 1 tsp. flax seeds.

      Instructions

      Soak oats and chia seeds in water or coconut water overnight. In the morning, blend with all other ingredients. Top with frozen berries, goji berries and flax seeds. Soaking chia and oats adds nutritional value to the bowl, however you can still make it without pre-soaking!

      Banana cake with chia seeds

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      chia recipe banana cake with chia seeds

        Ingredients

        2 cups almond flour
        ¼ cup tapioca flour
        ¼ cup flaxseed meal
        1 teaspoon baking soda
        ½ teaspoon salt
        1 tablespoon chia seeds
        1 cup bananas, mashed
        2 eggs, room temperature
        2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        ½ cup coconut milk
        ⅓ cup honey
        4 tablespoons coconut oil

        Instructions

        In a large bowl mix the almond flour, tapioca flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, salt and chia seeds. In a separate bowl, cream together coconut oil (not melted) and honey with a hand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time and continue mixing. Add in mashed banana, vanilla extract and coconut milk, mix until fully incorporated. .Pour wet ingredients in with dry ingredients and mix together with hand mixer to form batter.

        Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, covering two sides. Leave extra long so you have a handle to pull cake out. Pour the mixture evenly in the pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack when removing it from the oven and allow it to cool.

        Lemon Poppy and chia Seed Loaf

        chia recipe lemon poppy and chia seed loaf

          Ingredients

          Makes 1 loaf
          160 g flour
          12 g baking powder
          4 g baking soda
          2 g salt
          170 g coconut oil
          85 g sugar
          2 eggs
          1 yolk
          170 g yogurt
          30 g poppy seeds
          25 g chia seeds
          Zest of 2 lemons
          Vanilla to taste

          1 1/2 lemons juiced (about 70 ml)
          60 g sugar

          Instructions

          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

          Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cream the coconut oil and sugar together until fluffy. Slowly add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest, poppy seeds, chia seeds, and vanilla. Beat in half the flour, then add the yogurt. Last, add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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          While the loaf is baking make the lemon syrup. Heat the lemon juice and sugar together until it comes to a simmer. As soon as the loaf is taken out of the oven, spoon the syrup on top. Leave the loaf in the pan for several hours, or overnight.

          Sticky Chia Brown Rice with Fried Egg Recipe

          chia recipe Sticky Brown Rice with Egg and Chia

            Ingredients

            1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
            1 green onion, sliced on diagonal, green and white parts separated
            2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon black or white chia seeds
            2 cups cooked, chilled short-grain brown rice
            1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
            2 large eggs
            1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

            Instructions

            In a small saucepan, stir together the broth, white parts of green onion, and 2 tablespoon of the chia seeds and let stand for about 20 minutes. (Makes about 2/3 cup green onion-chia gel.)

            Bring the green onion-chia gel to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is steaming hot and has a sticky consis­tency, about 4 minutes.

            Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick (PFOA-free) skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and cook until desired doneness, such as sunny-side-up, about 4 minutes.

            Divide the sticky rice mixture onto plates or into bowls and top each with an egg. Sprinkle with the tamari, the remain­ing 1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds, and the green parts of green onions. Serve immediately.

            Featured photo credit: ecochiclife.net via ecochiclife.net

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            Published on November 14, 2018

            Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

            Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

            With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

            For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

            In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

            Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

            Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

            It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

            For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

            Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

            Symptoms of Fatigue

            Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

            • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
            • mental blocks
            • lack of motivation
            • headache
            • dizziness
            • muscle weakness
            • slowed reflexes and responses
            • impaired decision-making and judgement
            • moodiness, such as irritability
            • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
            • reduced immune system function
            • blurry vision
            • short-term memory problems
            • poor concentration
            • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

            Causes of Fatigue

            The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

            • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
            • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
            • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
            • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

            Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

            Medical Causes of Fatigue

            If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

            Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

            Anemia

            Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

            Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

            There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

            Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

            Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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            This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

            Diabetes

            Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

            Sleep Apnea

            Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

            Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

            Thyroid disease

            An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

            Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

            • Lack of sleep
            • Too much sleep 
            • Alcohol and drugs 
            • Sleep disturbances 
            • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
            • Poor diet 

            Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

            • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
            • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
            • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
            • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

            Psychological Causes of Fatigue

            Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

            • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
            • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
            • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

            How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

            Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

            1. Tell The Truth

            Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

            To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

            Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

            The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

            One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

            • How you feel
            • What time of day it is
            • What may have contributed to your fatigue
            • How your mind and body reacts

            This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

            2. Reduce Your Commitments

            When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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            If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

            When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

            Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

            3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

            If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

            Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

            If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

            Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

            Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

            4. Express More Gratitude

            Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

            It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

            Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

            5. Focus On Yourself

            Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

            There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

            But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

            We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

            6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

            Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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            Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

            The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

            Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

            7. Take a Power Nap

            When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

            Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

            This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

            8. Take More Exercise

            The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

            Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

            The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

            You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

            9. Get More Quality Sleep

            To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

            Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

            My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

            10. Improve Your Diet

            Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

            Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

            On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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            To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

            Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

            Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

            11. Manage Your Stress Levels

            Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

            When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

            Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

            My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

            12. Get Hydrated

            Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

            Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

            If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

            The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

            The Bottom Line

            These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

            If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

            Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
            [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
            [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
            [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
            [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
            [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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