The Periodic Table Meets the Dining Table

This article originally appeared on Frontdoors.

By Chef Joshua Hebert

We’ve all been there – feeling sluggish, dehydrated, a lack of focus, maybe a bit of anxiety. Sometimes it’s the result of a cold, food poisoning, or a hangover, and sometimes it’s unknown. Regardless of the culprit, it’s never a pleasant experience. But there is trick to remedying this, and I’m not talking menudo or pho. This actually requires a trip back to your sixth grade science class when you learned about the elements of the periodic table.

I never thought I’d be writing about magnesium, but my research on the mineral actually came out of necessity, so I figured why not impart my knowledge. The night before a trip to San Francisco I ate something that gave be a severe case of food poisoning. Not what you want when you’re en route to one of our nation’s food meccas. Holed up in my hotel room with a stomachache, the sweats and exhaustion, I began feverishly researching a possible remedy.

All searches kept leading me back to magnesium.

Magnesium (Mg) is a chemical element and its ions are essential to all living cells. It’s one of the most vital minerals for the human body and is necessary to more than 300 biochemical reactions, including normal muscle and nerve function, steady heart rhythm, a healthy immune system, and regulating blood sugar levels. It even plays a role in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Have I bored you yet? Try to stick with me.

Though it seems more like a miracle mineral, it’s actually more commonly referred to as “the forgotten mineral.” Magnesium deficiency has been linked to heart disorders, fatigue, insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, and eye twitching. Any of those sound familiar?

While differing studies about magnesium intake abound – some say most Americans don’t get enough magnesium, while other studies show we do – we do know the body works extremely hard to keep magnesium levels in the blood at a constant.

Though it may be rare to be truly deficient in the mineral, the body’s magnesium balance can easily be thrown off by way of intestinal viruses, vomiting, dehydration, or in my case food poisoning. Too much coffee, soda, salt, or alcohol, excessive sweating without replenishing the body, and prolonged stress can also lower magnesium levels. Pretty much everything we subject our bodies to on a daily basis.

Symptoms aside, magnesium also regulates calcium, potassium and sodium, which we all know do a body good. For those who care, magnesium is actually really good for your skin too.

So how does this all tie into food? Well there are a number of foods that are tremendous sources of magnesium. Some include, dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, as well as bananas, avocados, almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts, seeds (namely pumpkin and squash seeds), legumes, soy, and whole grains like brown rice and millet. Of course there are a ton of supplement options out there too.

If you’re feeling any of the aforementioned symptoms, you might try turning to Mother Earth to fill your belly and replenish your body.

 

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