Fasting Improves Your Health

 Diet, Heart Health, Obesity, Sleep  Comments Off on Fasting Improves Your Health
Jun 192014
 

The Salk Institute published a report two years ago showing that mice who fasted for 16 hours every day were leaner, more energetic and healthier than mice who didn’t fast. Now the Intermountain Medical Center finds that the same may be true in humans.

One explanation for the Salk mice study is for two hours after eating your liver converts the nutrition in your meal into fat for later use. If you don’t eat for at least two hours, your liver then stops making fat molecules, and starts making molecules for cellular repair. However, if you keep eating every two to three hours, your liver keeps making fat molecules, and spends little time making molecules for cellular repair.

The researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center add that fasting forces your body to use up stored fat cells for energy. And fasting may trigger action from the human growth hormone (HGH) to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance.

The net result of periodic fasting are lower triglycerides, weight and blood sugar levels. And your liver is allowed more time to help repair damaged tissue throughout your body.

But why do some people find it difficult to not snack throughout the day and night?

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University speculate that our modern lifestyle and out-of-balance circadian system may be to blame. Artificial light helps us to sleep less and eat more. And the modern lifestyle encourages larger calorie intake at night.

Unfortunately, this may lead to obesity and poor long term health. Ideally, we should eat the most calories at breakfast, and the least at dinner. Combine this with sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night promotes the health benefits indicated in this new research results.

Think about it. If you’re sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night, that’s 7 to 8 hours you’re not eating. And if your can avoid eating for at least two hours before bed time, that’s a total of 9 to 10 hours of fasting. That gives your body 9 to 10 hours to repair your body tissues, rather than producing fat molecules.

This may be one of the reason that people who sleep 7 to 8 hours a night are healthier than people who sleep less.

Try these suggestions to increase your ability to fast for 10 to 12 hours each day.

  • Eat a large breakfast of proteins, healthy fats and whole grains.
  • Make dinner your smallest meal of the day.
  • Don’t reduce your calorie intake, but try to eat them within a 12 hour period during the daylight time period.
  • Try to get a good dose of natural sunlight during the day.
  • Don’t eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Snack during the day with high protein snacks, such as nuts and seeds.
  • Limit your sugar intake, and stay away from low fiber carbohydrates.
  • Don’t drink high caffeine drinks after 2 pm.

If you can fast for 10 to 12 hours each day, you’ll significantly reduce your risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

News Flash: Eat Your Dandelion Greens

 Diet, Viamins  Comments Off on News Flash: Eat Your Dandelion Greens
Jun 122014
 

We now have a nutrient dense food list provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Jennifer Di Noia. And dandelion greens are sixteenth on the list of forty-one high nutrient dense foods. Of course, you won’t be able to eat your dandelion greens if you kill them with herbicides.

I’ve used Whole Foods’s top 100 healthiest foods for many years. But there’re several nutrient dense foods on the CDC list that is lacking in the Whole Foods list, such as watercress, chicory, dandelion greens, arugula, kohlrabi, and rutabaga. I’m surprised to see Iceberg Lettuce on the CDC list. I’ve considered Iceberg Lettuce to be nutrient deficient. Romaine lettuce is the better choice, since Romaine lettuce is ninth on the CDC list, while Iceberg lettuce is twenty-ninth on the list.

Dr. Di Noia assigned a nutrient density score to each food based on the Darmon method of nutrient density standards for vegetables and fruits. In addition, foods are considered powerhouse fruits and vegetables (PFV) if they provide 10% or more of the daily value of a nutrient. And the nutrients a food should provide include potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.

Even though many of us prefer to pop a pill for nutrition, vitamins and minerals are always more bioavailable from foods. One reason is these chemicals and minerals don’t provide nutrition by acting alone. For example, vitamin C is more than the chemical ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is actually a complex of many chemicals, which includes ascorbic acid. And this is true of all bioavailable forms of vitamins and minerals.

Start eating those dandelion greens rather than killing them to get more bioavailable vitamins and minerals into your diet.

The forty-one high nutrient dense foods in order of nutrient content are watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, Romaine lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, endive, chive, kale, dandelion greens, red pepper, arugula, broccoli, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, scallion, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, tomato, lemon, iceberg lettuce, strawberry, radish, winter squash, orange, lime, red grapefruit, rutabaga, turnip, blackberry, leeks, sweet potato and white grapefruit.

Why Nitrate-Nitrite Rich Vegetables Are Healthy, While Nitrates in Meat Are Not

 Blood Pressure, Diet  Comments Off on Why Nitrate-Nitrite Rich Vegetables Are Healthy, While Nitrates in Meat Are Not
May 262014
 

Combining unsaturated vegetable oils with nitrite rich vegetables protects you from hypertension, according to research by King’s College in London. This new finding may be the reason why a Mediterranean diet is healthy.

But why are nitrates and nitrites in vegetables healthy, while nitrate preservatives in meats increase your risk of cancer?

Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, like natural vitamin C, prevent the natural vegetable source of nitrates and nitrites to convert to the cancer causing molecules called nitrosamines. In meats, however, the nitrates and animal proteins readily react to form nitrosamines.

In addition to not forming nitrosamines, the fruit and vegetable sourced nitrites and nitrates react with unsaturated vegetable oils to form nitro fatty acids. And it’s the nitro fatty acids that inhibit an enzyme called epoxide hydrolase, which regulates your blood pressure. When this enzyme is inhibited, your blood pressure lowers.

A good reason to eat a vegetable salad with healthy vegetable oils every day.

Healthy sources of vegetable unsaturated fats are nuts, olive oil, canola oil, avocados and flaxseed. Nitrate and nitrite rich vegetables include beet roots, romaine lettuce, carrots, spinach, celery, green beans and collard greens. Strawberries are the best fruit source.

Be creative. Make your own salad creations using the combination of healthy vegetable oils and vegetables mentioned above. And throw in a few strawberries to enjoy a long and healthy life.

Another Reason to Keep Your Gut Flora Healthy and Active

 Gut Flora  Comments Off on Another Reason to Keep Your Gut Flora Healthy and Active
Mar 192014
 

We all like to think of ourselves as thriving individuals. But, we aren’t alone, nor can we exist without the help of others. I’m not talking about help from other humans, but help from the bacteria in your gut or your gut flora.

Results of new research by the Louisiana State College of Agriculture presented at the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas, shows how the “good” bacteria in your gut helps your digestive system absorb antioxidants. Antioxidants that help your body fight cancer and prevent heart disease. The type of antioxidants you find in foods like green tea, cocoa powder, and in the skins of dark grapes, blackberries, apples and cherries.

These beneficial bacteria digest the large antioxidant molecules, called polyphenols and catechin, and break them down into more easily digested, and smaller antioxidant molecules. It’s these smaller molecules that’s absorbed into your bloodstream, where they begin their journey acting as disease fighting antioxidants.

One of the more common and more effective “good” bacteria in your gut flora is Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum). It’s this bacteria more so than the others that helps your body absorb antioxidants and fight diseases.

One of the best ways to increase the population of “good” bacteria like B. longum is to feed it prebiotics that help this bacteria thrive. They love to eat fiber our bodies have a hard time digesting. They love fiber in foods like cocoa powder, chicory root, artichokes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic bananas, leeks, asparagus, oats and legumes. By developing a large population of “good” bacteria in your gut, you also help wipe out the “bad” bacteria that can cause digestive problems and intestinal diseases.

We can’t stay healthy alone. We need these little creatures in our intestines to help us stay healthy. Not only do they help break down food in our gut, but they also make it possible for our body to absorb disease fighting antioxidants. So help develop a large colony of bacteria like B. longum by frequently drinking hot chocolate made from cocoa powder or chicory tea along with a meal of sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, leeks, asparagus, oats or legumes.

The Debate on Dietary Saturated Fat Continues

 Fat  Comments Off on The Debate on Dietary Saturated Fat Continues
Mar 182014
 

Ever since Ancel Keys started the epidemiological longitudinal “Seven Countries Study” in 1958, there’s been debate about the role of saturated fats on coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Keys’ study showed a strong relationship between dietary saturated fat and heart disease – that is, the more saturated fat people ate, the higher the rate of heart disease.

One criticism of the “Seven Countries study” is that other factors, including cigarette smoking and lack of physical activity, could be responsible for the higher rates of heart disease. But medical professionals and drug companies believe saturated fats are the true villain.  The dissenters of the saturated fat CHD theory have been ignored and silenced. But an increasing number of dissenting researchers are expressing their belief that saturated fats are not linked to CHD.

Yesterday, the meta-analysis report “Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk” was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Meta-analysis is a statistical method of combining results from different studies. The basic conclusion of this study from the University of Cambridge is that “current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”

A senior author of the study, Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio, states that there’s no strong evidence to justify current cardiovascular guidelines concerning saturated fats, and there’s a need for further studies to explore this issue, according to Medscape.

There are a few criticisms of this new study. Dr. Eric B. Rimm of Harvard stated in the Medscape article, “CV Risk and Saturated Fats: The Debate Roils On,” that there’s a serious mistake in the study’s review of polyunsaturated fatty acids that will change the results of the study substantially. He also stated that the study’s conclusion about saturated fat has no context, because it compared heart disease risk of eating saturated fats with eating white bread – in other words, saturated fat consumption is no better or worse than eating white bread. Low-fiber carbs like white bread are now known to spike blood sugar and increase risks of CVD.

And Medscape states another criticism by Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein of Tufts University – “The majority of the evidence suggests that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces heart disease risk, whereas replacing saturated fat with carbohydrate does not. This new study only assessed one factor, an indicator of dietary fat, and not the whole picture, making the conclusions questionable.”

Dr. Di Angelantonio, however, believes these errors are minor, and doesn’t change the basic conclusion of the study.

In the WebMD article, “Fats and heart disease: Guidelines questioned,” the medical director of the British Heart Foundation, Professor Jeremy Pearson, states “This analysis of existing data suggests there isn’t enough evidence to say that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats but low in saturated fats reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. But large scale clinical studies are needed, as these researchers recommend, before making a conclusive judgement. Alongside taking any necessary medication, the best way to stay heart healthy is to stop smoking, stay active, and ensure our whole diet is healthy – and this means considering not only the fats in our diet but also our intake of salt, sugar and fruit and vegetables.”

This isn’t the first meta-analysis to make this conclusion about saturated fats. In a March 2010 report, the conclusion stated that there is no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

In addition to the “Seven Countries Study,” however, the “Nurses’ Health Study” and the “Health Professionals Follow-up Study” show women who eat more unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats have fewer heart problems.

Based on my own experience and research, this is what I believe to be heart healthy. Cultures that experience long and healthy lives have these things in common:

  • They eat a lot of high-fiber fruits and vegetables
  • They eat meat rarely. It’s reported that the people of the Greek island Ikaria eat only four servings of meat a month. Many Americans eat that much in a day.
  • When they do eat meat or dairy, it’s from animals who freely graze on wild grasses
  • Water is the primary fluid they drink with a modest amount of red wine
  • They eat a lot of nuts and seeds
  • They eat a lot of legumes
  • They use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • They use raw, wild honey as an occasional sweetener
  • They stay physically active
  • And they’re not overweight

Let the scientist argue. If you follow the example of people who live healthy and long like the people of Ikaria, you too can increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.

Wheat Free Banana Pancake Recipe

 Recipes  Comments Off on Wheat Free Banana Pancake Recipe
Mar 062014
 

Are you trying to be wheat free, but miss morning pancakes? Me too! That’s why I developed a wheat free banana pancake recipe to satisfy my pancake cravings. Now you too can enjoy this delicious meal full of fiber, B vitamins and heart healthy fats. It’s also low in sugar.

Ingredients

(Makes 2, 6” pancakes)

¾ cup rolled oats

1 tablespoon oat bran

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon Lite Salt

1/32 teaspoon pure Stevia powder or sweetener of your choice

1 large banana

1 large egg (preferably cage-free or organic)

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon canola oil

 

Peanut Butter Sauce

 

2 teaspoons Natural Peanut Butter

1 teaspoon canola oil

Unsweetened Almond Milk

 

Blend the dry ingredients in a blender at slow speed until you get a flour-like texture. Place the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mash the peeled banana with a fork, and blend into the dry ingredients. Whisk the egg, vanilla and canola oil, and blend into the dry ingredients-banana mix. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes.

For the peanut butter sauce topping, blend the peanut butter and canola oil until smooth. Add enough unsweetened almond milk for desired thickness. I like my sauce on the thin side, but some may want it thicker. Set aside until the pancakes are done.

Use one-half of the batter for one pancake, and the other half for the second pancake. Cook the batter like normal pancakes. I prefer to cook these on low heat.

When the pancakes are done and sitting on a plate, microwave the peanut butter sauce on high for 20-30 seconds, depending on your microwave oven strength. Pour and spread the sauce on top of the pancakes. You can also sprinkle on sunflower seeds, for added nutrition and taste. Enjoy!

I use pure Stevia powder to sweeten the batter. The Stevia sold in most stores is not pure Stevia powder, and usually not even the main ingredient. Most of the grocery store brands use an alcohol-sugar as their main ingredient with a dash of Stevia powder. The NOW brand sells pure Stevia powder called “Better Stevia,” and comes with a 1/40 teaspoon scoop. It can be found online. Nuts.com sells pure Stevia powder in bulk.

Enjoy these wheat-free pancakes, and live a healthier life.

Improve Your Brain Function with a Reduction in Belly Fat

 Alzheimer's, Brain Health, Fat  Comments Off on Improve Your Brain Function with a Reduction in Belly Fat
Mar 052014
 

You can improve your brain function with a reduction of belly fat, and you can reduce your belly fat by replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, according to two new studies.

Belly, visceral, fat is associated with increased risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Now researchers at the Georgia Regents University say that visceral fat also leads to destruction of the communication links between brain cells. And your brain function capability decreases as the connections or synapses between your brain cells decrease.

Apparently, your immune system considers belly fat a chronic invader that must be attacked. A large amount of belly fat keeps inflammation high, and allows the proteins that regulate inflammation to enter your brain. Once in your brain, these immune response protein regulators allow disease destroying cells, microglia, to start destroying the synapses between your brain cells. With less synapses comes less brain function capabilities.

This is why a large amount of belly fat triples your risks of “mild cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer’s.”

The researchers stress that a reduction in belly fat responds well to aerobic exercise. And exercise is the best strategy for reducing your visceral or abdominal fat.

A second research report states that the type of fat you eat influences that amount of belly fat you develop.

Saturated fat leads to less muscle mass and more belly fat, compared to consumption of unsaturated fats, say researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University.

The researchers used palm oil as the saturated fat, and sunflower oil as the polyunsaturated fat in their study of 39 men and women. The group of participants eating the saturated fat experienced a substantial increase in liver and abdominal fat, and a reduction in muscle mass. This is in comparison to the group who ate the unsaturated fat.

It appears that saturated fats “turn on” our genes that increase development of visceral or belly fat. And unsaturated fats “turn on” our genes that reduce storage of belly fat and increase sugar metabolism.

New research indicates belly fat decreases our brain function by the destruction of synapses between our brain cells. We can improve our cognitive abilities by reducing the amount of belly fat. This is a result of the reduction in body wide inflammation caused by the visceral fat. And we can reduce our belly fat with aerobic exercise and diet. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in our diet reduces the amount of belly fat, and increases our metabolism of blood sugar.

Get rid of your belly fat, and increase your brain’s capabilities. And you can get rid of that belly fat with aerobic exercise and unsaturated fats in your diet. So, stop eating all that red meat, butter and palm oil, and start eating more unsaturated plant oils and cold water fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, Herring and tuna.

An Egg a Day May Keep Dementia Away

 Alzheimer's, Brain Health, Diet  Comments Off on An Egg a Day May Keep Dementia Away
Mar 042014
 

A new study at Tufts University will determine if eating eggs daily reduces your risks of dementia in old age. Egg lovers will rejoice if an egg a day keeps dementia away. Why eggs?

A study published by the American Society of Nutrition in 2012 found the combination of DHA and lutein supplementation improve cognitive functions in elderly participants of the study. Previous studies found that patients with mild dementia had lower concentrations of lutein in their brains compared to patients without symptoms of dementia.

Based on the results of previous research connecting lutein with mental health, Tufts researchers chose eggs for their study, because eggs have a high concentration of two related antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are found in high concentrations in healthy brains, along with DHA. DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid, which is one of the primary structural components of our human brain.

If eggs prove to improve brain function in the elderly, it will be a relatively cheap source of nutrition to help reduce their risks of dementia.

Eggs and yellow corn have the highest percentage of both lutein and zeaxanthin, but eggs are the best source of both antioxidants together. Yellow corn has a higher percentage of lutein, while orange peppers have a high percentage of zeaxanthin. Both antioxidants can also be found in kiwi fruit, grapes, spinach, zucchini and other squash.

DHA is found in cold water, fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, herring and tuna.

Eating fatty ocean fish along with eggs and yellow corn on a bed of spinach, and kiwi fruit for dessert, may prevent the onset of dementia, if the new study at Tufts University determines eggs improve cognitive function in the elderly. You can enjoy a relatively inexpensive and delicious meal, and stay mentally healthy throughout your old age.

How Olive Oil Helps Build Strong Bones

 Bone Health, Diet  Comments Off on How Olive Oil Helps Build Strong Bones
Jan 282014
 

In the last few years, medical articles claim olive oil helps build strong bones. A short article at the People’s Pharmacy website, “Olive Oil for Strong Bones,” is an example, citing research from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Some people in the comment section of these articles suggest a bias view from European researchers making this claim with financial help from the olive industry. However, there is a good medical basis for the claim.

The research claims that people who consume olive oil have high blood levels of an amino acid protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is “the most important non-collagen protein in bone matrix, accounts for approximately 1% of the total protein in human bone,” according to the Mayo Clinic. The Linus Pauling Institute states that osteocalcin is a vitamin K dependent protein, and may be important in bone mineralization or bone building.

Olive oil along with canola oil is a decent source of vitamin K, as can be seen in the Nutrition Data of vitamin K. With olive oil containing good levels of vitamin K, increasing blood levels of the bone building protein osteocalcin by consuming olive oil is a logical conclusion.

In addition to building strong bones, olive oil is also associated with heart health, improved cognitive function and cancer prevention, as summarized by Whole Foods.

Vitamin K is also found in higher amounts in dark green, leafy vegetable like kale, spinach and collard greens. To help increase your bone density, eat a salad with these dark green, leafy vegetables topped with extra virgin olive oil. Another reason why a Mediterranean type of diet improves your overall health.

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Food Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

 Alzheimer's, Diet, Fat  Comments Off on Food Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Dec 302013
 

A research report titled “The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids” highlights the benefits of increasing our Omega-3 fatty acid consumption. It states a 4 to 1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality risks. It further states a 2.5 to 1 ratio reduced colorectal cancer cell proliferation. Unfortunately, the western diet’s ratio is closer to 15 to 1, which means we need more Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet.

What are some of the food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids?

I listed below some of the common foods that have an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 4 or less, which indicates that they have a healthy amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. They are:

All the foods listed above are part of a Mediterranean type of diet, which research has shown to substantially decrease the risks of heart disease, cancers and dementia.

The western lifestyle is riddled with increased risks of heart disease, cancers and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. One of the reasons may be our low consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. We can improve our overall health by consuming more foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids. These include scallops, tuna, crab, shrimp, oyster, herring, spinach, cauliflower, salmon, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, Romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, kidney beans, broccoli, collard greens, kale, black bean, canola oil, sardines, onion, lentils and walnuts.

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