Around Easter my mind dwells on Fanesca, an Easter holiday soup made with 12 grains, fish, egg and avocado. This is quite a famous dish served this time of year at the Inn Land of the Sun in Cotacachi.
What does soup have to do with sleep? Read below to see the connections..
We lived and worked with this Ecuador healer for years.
One of his specialties was to bring imbalanced children back to a healthy state. His approach was simple and magical. Over the years, we watched a number of health miracles. He told us there were three steps on restoring balance and health. Eat Right… Work Hard (which if done takes care of the of the third step)… sleep well.
This works well for me and exercise is the one thing we can control most.
Good nutrition is perhaps more important than exercise but this is harder to control. Hunger is such an insidious sin… much more difficult to control than laziness and or lack of routine. We’ll get to nutrition in a moment but exercise first because it helps encourage good nutrition.
Exercise is the easiest discipline and good exercise regulates blood sugar and hunger. When we miss the right nutritional moves and the system starts sliding out of balance.
When I work too hard and skip my exercise, pretty soon I feel hungrier and do not sleep as well at night.
Exercise can help slow down the imbalance.
An excerpt below from the New York Times article “To Fall Asleep, Get Off the Couch” by Craig Hacker supports this notion.
TORMENTED by pain from two decades of lower back problems, Don Cook was nearly at his wits’ end. Operations, traction, drugs — nothing seemed to work. At the behest of his family, he signed up for an exercise program for older people at Wichita State University, near his hometown, Derby, Kan.
Mr. Cook does core strengthening exercises under the tutelage of Mr. Walton.
“I had very little faith that exercise would help,” said Mr. Cook, now 61. “But we needed desperately to do something different.”
Under a supervised program at the university’s Center for Physical Activity and Aging, Mr. Cook at first couldn’t walk for 10 minutes without his back pain flaring up. Now, 13 months later, he strides briskly and confidently for 50 minutes at a time, covering about two miles around the center’s one-eighth-mile indoor track.
His back feels better, his posture is better, he is off pain medication, and he has discarded his cane. But he also accrued another, unexpected benefit: “I fall asleep quickly and sleep through the night,” Mr. Cook said. “Which is unusual for me.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of adults ages 60 and over have trouble sleeping. One of the most effective — not to mention cheapest — remedies may be the same thing that Mr. Cook used to help his back: exercise.
In a 2011 study at the University of Massachusetts, activity habits of 22 adults (11 men, 11 women) ages 65 to 81 were followed over 10 days by the use of accelerometers — pager-size devices that measure body movements.
“There was definitely a strong correlation between sleep quality and physical activity,” said Jane Kent-Braun, a professor and physiologist who supervised the study. “Those who were more active each day reported fewer problems sleeping than those who were sedentary.”
That was not surprising. But the amount of activity needed to improve sleep was. “Those who had better quality of sleep were moderately active,” she said. “These were people who were out there just moving around, gardening, walking the dog.”
Findings similar to those of this study, which was presented in June at the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, have been reported by other investigators. A 2011 study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that physical activity was a “promising strategy” to decrease frequent sleep interruptions among those with arthritis.
Another study, done at Oregon State University and published in December in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, looked at activity and sleeping habits of 2,600 men and women 18 to 85 years of age. Those who followed the federal Department of Health and Human Services guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week reported a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality.
The implications for retirees who are tossing and turning?
“It’s another reason to get active, if you aren’t already,” said Dr. William O. Roberts, a professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.
Exercise as simple as walking can help sleep.
Nutritional secrets we learned in Ecuador can help us take care of the eating aspect of better balance.
Ecuador’s food is health food… compared to food in the US… even Ecuador’s fast food is pretty good.
Many mistakenly think that Ecuadorian food is something like Mexican food. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have never seen a taco or antijito in Ecuador, although they are available in the big cities in chains.
Ecuadorian food is European if anything but blended nicely with Andean traditions… so it comes out darn healthy.
Take for example our friends, Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins. On one of our trips to Cotacachi we visited with many friends and readers who have moved to Ecuador and heard a similar refrain… “I lost many pounds without even trying”. One delegate who has moved to Cotacachi about six months ago reported losing 38 pounds.
Dan and Suzan both looked so good and I asked their secret. “We just lost weight without trying” was their reply.
Plus many report that shedding stress helps as well…. along with walking in the fresh mountain air.
Ecuador food is fresh. On Ecuador’s coast, you can get seafood right from the fishing boats when they come in, like these at San Clemente. Boats like this one just outside the hotel and also dotted all along the coast.
The fishermen handle the boats through the surf.
Then they head out to sea!
Merri and I always went out to meet the fishermen when they returned. They had a variety of fish and giant langostinos. The shrimp are large enough that two provide a meal!
The Humboldt Current creates one of the world’s most productive nutrient-rich waters that rise along the coast. This is a perfect condition for abundant plankton which leads to an eco region that teems with huge schools of small fish like anchovies and sardines.
The cool waters of the Humboldt Current provide a constant supply of food for big fish such as Dorado (coryphaena hippurus – also called dolphinfish), barracuda (sphyraena indiastes), blue and black marlin, yellow-finned and long-finned tuna (thunnus albacares, thunnus alalunga), snook and many other species.
Here I am in San Vicente with dorado just north of Manta and adjoining San Clemente.
Four world-record Pacific bigeye tuna (similar to yellow fin tuna) catches come from Ecuador ranging in size from 236 pounds to 375-pounds.
Sea food includes Stripped Marlin, Tuna, Grouper, Wahoo and Corvina (seabass).
Trout is in the rivers and lakes of the Andes like this high country lake .
Trout grow well in the Andean Highlands above 7,000 feet, with average water and air temperature virtually constant year-round. The trout feed on scuds, leeches, small fish and various bugs.
Even the seafood in the Andes is fresh. Here is the Ibarra fish market were they bring the fish in overnight.
Prices are really low… mostly about a dollar a pound.
Plus there is Quinoa, a full protein grain of the Andes. We make our cake and bread gluten free and packed with protein at Land of the Sun Inn. Here is one of our chef’s quinoa cakes with a fresh coconut pudding.
There are no high fat, fast food franchises in the area. This is as close to a fast food as you’ll get in Cotacachi.
Much better than a Big Mac!…corn roasted on a grill.
Fruit is vine picked ripe and really cheap… every type… tropical and northern… apples, blackberries, cherries, strawberries and pears.
For those interested in healthier nutrition, here are three nutritional tips sent to us by our friend, Blaine Watson.
A diet high in turmeric may help reduce weight gain by suppressing the growth of new fat tissue, according to a study conducted by researchers from Tufts University and published in the Journal of Nutrition.The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a grant from the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.
“Weight gain is the result of the growth and expansion of fat tissue, which cannot happen unless new blood vessels form, a process known as angiogenesis,” senior author Mohsen Meydani said. “Based on our data, curcumin appears to suppress angiogenic activity in the fat tissue of mice fed high fat diets.”Curcumin is an antioxidant chemical in the polyphenol family that naturally occurs in turmeric. In contrast to some phytochemicals, it is easily absorbed by the body.
Researchers fed two groups of mice identical high-fat diets, supplementing the diets of the half the mice with 500 milligrams of curcumin per kilogram of body weight per day. They found that mice in the curcumin group had significantly lower blood cholesterol and significantly less microvessel density in fat tissue than the mice in the control group, implying less blood vessel growth and thus less overall growth of fat tissue. The livers of mice in the curcumin group also contained significantly less fat than those of the mice in the control group.
“In general, angiogenesis and an accumulation of lipids in fat cells contribute to fat tissue growth,” Meydani said.The researcher also noted that “curcumin appeared to be responsible for total lower body fat in the group that received supplementation.”In a similar study conducted on cells rather than animals, the researchers also found curcumin to suppress angiogenesis. The chemical also appeared to suppress the expression of two genes linked to angiogenesis in both the mouse and cell experiments.
I wanted to remind everyone that turmeric is to be used with some degree of awareness. We never eat it raw. It must be cooked in our food. Capsules are therefore not an option. We use only organic turmeric. The regular turmeric you buy for example in an Indian store is heavily adulterated with chalk and talcum powder and food coloring.
We also use turmeric sparingly. It is highly highly effective in purifying the liver. The North American/Western diet and lifestyle is highly toxic with many many sources of impurities which are metabolized and stored in the liver. When turmeric is introduced to the diet these toxins/impurities are squeezed from the liver (this would be a contributing factor to weight loss) and this is a good thing but not if it is overwhelming to the body. Detox crisis is a real possibility.
A gentle and universal curry for western palates would be something like:
3 parts powdered coriander
3 parts powdered fennel
1-2 parts powdered cumin
1-2 parts turmeric
Sign in with Blaine Watson for his immensely wise and interesting free ezine: email@example.com
Here is turmeric sold in the Cotacachi market.
Many products sold in the local markets are organic like this sign in Cotacachi market… “productos organicos here.”
The national drink of Ecuador is herbal tea… not espresso cafe… real infusions made from the fresh plants purchased in the market. Much healthier… even medicinal!
Here are teas being sold in Otavalo market.
Here is star anise great for making Tea-Masala.
Here is a traditional shamanic purification tea to be drunk and bathed in.
One part sweet pepper pictured here (called black cardomon in the US).
Boiled with cinnamon bark and chamomile.
Our staff serve wonderful, healthy welcome drinks… alfalfa juice with mango and …
Mango juice with blackberry.
Our coffee breaks include quinoa puddings…
This is a favorite and…
so much healthier than coffee and doughnuts!
This coffee break has fresh fruit… gooseberries and hand made chocolate dipped, coconut balls. Even the coconut is fresh and hand shredded.
I have the staff make us a few extra as they do not last long!
or do Eduardo’s fresh strawberries dipped in Ecuadorian chocolate.
On the subject of chocolate, my favorite desert is this chocolate pancake… yet we lose weight eating here!
The quinoa welcome cake is our chef’s specialty.
The hotel’s food is fresh. Here is manager, Franklin Sandoval, bringing in just picked veggies fresh from the market.
A typical high protein meal, quinoa, avocado and shrimp.
Here is a variation on the theme… shrimp… with quinoa and vegetables “al dente” in a carrot sauce.
Organic Swiss cheese is produced near the hotel.
Even our butter and…
ice cream, are hand made from fresh cream and fruit juices by the staff.
Plus the care that the staff put in the service and the food… catsup is hand made and never delivered in a bottle but in a hollowed out fruit.
Plus the staff care about giving you beauty like this…
arrangement of forks. The staff are always thinking of ways to make food a bit more delightful.
So of health and better nutrition… you do not need to think Ecuadorian health food… just eating Ecuador food can be enough!
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