A Surprising Benefit of Spinach, Plus a Delicious Recipe!

shutterstock_161756207Leafy green veggies like spinach are chock full of dietary fiber and essential nutrients to support a healthy gut and body, but did you know this beneficial super food may also come in handy when you’re trying to lose weight?

Researchers from the United States and Sweden recently reported that plant membranes called thylakoids—found in spinach and other green plants—play a role in managing hunger by slowing down the digestive process and triggering the release of certain hormones that help us feel full after eating. Add to that the fact that spinach is low in calories, tasty, and versatile enough for every meal, and the possibilities are endless! Try this simple and delicious omelet recipe today:

Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelet
Serves 1
Ingredients:
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. coconut oil
2 cups firmly packed baby spinach
¼ cup diced sweet onion
½ cup artichoke hearts, quartered
¼ cup goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Heat 1 tsp. of coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add spinach and stir, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes (until slightly wilted). Remove spinach from pan and place in a small bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tsp. coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and artichoke hearts; sauté for 2 minutes until tender. Stir in eggs and cook 1 minute to set, gently lifting the edges to ensure all the egg is cooked. Reduce heat to low; cook 3 to 4 minutes until firm. Flip the omelet and immediately spread all but 1 tsp. of the goat cheese on top. Cover with spinach; cook 2 minutes. Fold the omelet in half and transfer to plate. Top with remaining goat cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Sources:
http://www.americancollegeofnutrition.org/content/spinach-leaf-extract-found-suppress-appetite-increase-meal-satisfaction
http://www.universityherald.com/articles/21869/20150804/spinach-may-reduce-hunger-cravings.htm
http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/28410/20150802/obesity-spinach-extract-reduce-hunger-cravings.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19548286
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609.php
http://www.livescience.com/51324-spinach-nutrition.html
http://foodfacts.mercola.com/spinach.html
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2

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Studying the Microbiome in Space

spaceWhat do gut bacteria and outer space have in common? More than you might think. Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are currently studying how space travel and zero-gravity living affect the trillions of microbes living in and around the digestive tract—many of which play a role in optimal digestion and health.

As part of the ongoing Microbiome experiment, participating crew members will provide blood, saliva, and gastrointestinal samples to help researchers assess the status of their bacterial populations before, during, and after space flight. Immune health and stress levels will also be monitored, along with the impact of nutrition and diet on the ISS.

Knowing that extreme environments can cause changes in bacterial populations, scientists hope to understand more about the impact of those changes on human health. For example, can long-term space travel deplete our stores of good bacteria and leave us vulnerable to infection and poor health? Answering this and other questions may help future astronauts as well as people who live and work in similar environments here on Earth.

And speaking of astronauts and gut health, a new study published in this month’s FASEB Journal suggests that extreme conditions like living in zero gravity may lead to a higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases. When mice were subjected to an environment similar to that experienced during space travel, both gut bacteria balance and immune function were altered significantly, resulting in colitis (inflammation of the large intestine, or bowel).

Sources:
http://spaceref.com/international-space-station/nasa-international-space-station-on-orbit-status-27-july-2015.html
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129522-800-astronaut-gut-reaction-themicrobiome-in-space/
https://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/scripts/experiment/exper.aspx?exp_index=1836
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1010.html
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-08/foas-smi080515.php
http://www.thenewsreports.com/astronauts-at-higher-risk-of-getting-gut-diseases-study/21968/megha-kedia
http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/8/3263.abstract
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001125.htm

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