High Blood Pressure–5 Diet Swaps to Lower your Hypertension Risk

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High blood pressure affects more than a quarter of all adults.  The condition, which is also known as hypertension, puts extra stress on blood vessels and vital organs. Making some diet or lifestyle changes could lower your chances of developing high blood pressure symptoms. These are the best foods add to your weekly shopping list, to reduce your risk of hypertension.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate, or even pomegranate juice, could slash your caches of having high blood pressure, scientists have claimed. Drinking more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks could lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, they said. It’s not entirely clear what causes the drop in blood pressure, but it’s believed to be caused by its high potassium and polyphenol content. 

Beetroot

Beetroot juice could have a positive effect at reducing blood pressure, according to the University of California, Berkeley. “Beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure,” it said.  Its comments came after a 2013 study revealed beetroot juice could reduce blood pressure just six hours after drinking. The juice had a greater effect on men than women, the scientists claimed.

Pistachios

Just one or two servings of pistachios every day could lower blood pressure, studies have revealed.  The nuts may help to dilate blood vessels, and thus, lower hypertension risk.  Dark chocolate, or other cocoa products, may help to cut hypertension risk.  “Consuming dark chocolate or cocoa products rich in flavanols was linked with some reduction in systolic or diastolic blood pressure among people with hypertension,” said Berkeley. “Other research has shown that polyphenols [especially flavanols] in cocoa products are associated with the formation of nitric oxide, a substance that widens blood vessels and eases blood flow.”

Olive oil

Olive oil could lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, researchers claimed. Women could benefit most by adding more olive oil to their diet, they revealed. Look out for olive oil with polyphenols for the biggest antihypertensive effect, said Berkeley.

Other factors;

Stay at your recommended weight.

Lower your sodium intake, avoid canned goods and processed foods.

Exercise more, stay active!

Avoid smoking and all alcohol

Stay hydrated.

Follow a diet that meets all of your nutrient needs.  You need 1800 calories a day from WHOLE FOODS!

Eliminate dairy and all grains.

Eat, vegetables abundantly, eat fruit, high quality proteins (preferably organic), nuts and seeds.


Obesity is NOT a Disease! It’s a Choice.

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When my children were little, they noticed that many overweight shoppers in the grocery store had a lot of processed or junk food in their carts.  As I have always shopped for groceries at Publix 3 to 5 times a week for my business, my children are well educated about the correlation between health and nutrition.  They used to make fun of the milk commercials on TV. They also had heard all of my info on nutrition over the years, even when they didn’t want to hear it! 

We have all heard someone speak of having a metabolic disorder, low metabolism, or hormone issues that have caused their obesity. The truth of the matter that a very tiny percentage of people may have a health issue that causes a weight issue. And certainly those issues may cause a tendency to gain weight. But if you know that fact it is not that hard to keep from becoming truly obese!

Some common misconceptions;

  • You gain weight from eating too much food.
  • NOT true- the average American takes in about 1400 calories a day. That puts you in starvation mode, you cannot meet your nutrient needs…therefore the body holds on to everything you intake.

 

  • Exercise will help you lose weight.
  • NOT true-  You must burn 3500 calories in one day to burn off 1 pound of body weight. That’s impossible.   Look what it takes to burn calories-

Surfing-    207
Weight lifting – general-  234
Sex – 288
Ashtanga yoga- 351
Pilates Intermediate- 351
Hiking- 405
Aerobics – low impact- 414
Aerobics – high impact    477
Bicycling / cycling 12-14 mph    594
Canoeing 4 mph- 630
Rope jumping- 684
Running 6 mph=  684

  • Limiting calories helps us lose weight
  • NOT true, as most people don’t take in enough calories. They are already malnourished.

The bottom line is in order to lose weight you NEED TO MEET YOUR NUTRIENT NEEDS DAILY!   It is physically impossible to do that on less that 1700 to 1800 calories a day. Factor in the junk or processed food you take in each day, the empty calories…and you further limit nutrition.

So eat 3 full hot meals a day. Think of eating how your great grandmother ate. Real food, cooked at home, with mostly organic fruits and vegetables. Eat plenty of salad. Eat a moderate amount of health y fat, a small amounts (about 4 ounces) of protein at each meal. Avoid grains and dairy.

You will feel WAY better, lose about 5 pounds a week and heal from inflammation. You are better off sitting on the couch eating a perfect diet, than eating a standard American Diet and trying to excessive to get healthier.


Benefits of Maca Root: How It Impacts Your Hormones, Libido, and Energy

By Brielle Gregory   Sep 24, 2018

In a long line of powders and supplements dotting our Instagram feeds (remember matcha, moringa, and turmeric?), maca root powder is the latest superfood trend picking up momentum. One quick search of #macapowder on Instagram and you’ll find more than 48,000 posts, most of which include colorful smoothies, frothy coffees, oatmeal bowls, and healthy baked goods. Even mainstream brands, like Califia Farms Almond Milk, are adding maca root to their products.

So why is everyone hopping on the maca train? For one, the plant-based powder has been touted for its health benefits, especially its ability to improve your energy and boost your libido—and who doesn’t want a quick fix for either of those?

But as with any new plant powder, we can’t help but wonder: do these claims actually live up to the hype? Or is maca root just another trendy smoothie add-in that will fade away in a year or two? Here’s what you should know before you try it.

What is maca root powder?

Maca root powder comes from the roots of a Peruvian plant called (you guessed it!) maca. The plant is in the same family as radishes and resembles a turnip, but it’s usually grown at higher elevations, says Gina Keatley, CDN, a New York-based nutritionist. “The roots are ground up and dried to create the powder,” she says.

Maca root comes in various colors, but purple varieties are rich in antioxidants.

Maca also typically comes in one of three colors: black (which can appear to have a deep purplish hue), red, or yellow, says Lorraine Kearney, CDN, NDTR, adjunct professor at the City University of New York.

But regardless of color, the powder really does (or should) come solely from the plant itself. “It’s not really a supplement; it’s just a dehydrated vegetable,” says Kearney.

Although it’s most commonly described as having an earthy or nutty taste, Kearney says she gets some sweetness from it. “You would think it would be like a beet or something, but to me personally, it tastes like a butterscotch,” she says.

What are the health benefits of maca root powder?

It’s highly nutritious

Maca has one major health claim in its corner: it touts tons of different nutrients. “It is a root, which is where plants store most of their nutrients,” says Keatley. Maca root contains vitamin C (to boost immunity), copper (vital for red blood cell production), potassium (for your heart health), and iron (to carry oxygen around the body), says Kearney. It even packs some brain power in the form of B6, a not-so-talked about vitamin that helps protect the neurons in your brain and is key in the creation of serotonin and norepinephrine, two chemicals that help balance your mood, says Keatley. You’ll also get a dose of bone-building calcium, at roughly 39 milligrams per tablespoon.

MACA ROOT POWDER NUTRITION: 60 calories, 3 g protein, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber), 0 g fat, 6 g sugar in 1 tablespoon

Maca contains antioxidant plant compounds called anthocyanins, which give the root its deep purplish/blackish hue. “The more purple or black the root is, the more anthocyanins can be found,” Keatley adds. Research shows anthocyanins may ward off inflammation and help protect against cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

But aren’t there other maca powder benefits?

Maca root powder packs a nutritional punch, but there aren’t many reliable studies proving many of the benefits that have been associated with it—at least, not yet. “Overall, I think there is some evidence, but the studies are generally of poor quality and small,” says Michael Heinrich, PhD, a professor at the University College London who has studied maca, specifically for its reproductive benefits.

Overall, maca is still too new to tell for sure whether its claims are reliable, and much more research needs to be done to understand its full impact on the body. Here’s where the science stands on its most popular health claims.

On libido

“Much like other foods that claim to ‘get your motor started,’ if you have a deficiency in something like B6, maca root will fill that need and allow for the full production of sex hormones,” says Keatley. But keep that hype low: “In the very limited human trials using the root, some of the sex drive claims may be true, but all of the studies are small and have glaring flaws in them,” adds Keatley.

Plus, so many different things can squash your libido—everything from certain medications to alcohol to relationship troubles can impact your sex drive. “It wouldn’t be out of the question that maca root might have a placebo effect when it comes to female libido,” says Alyssa Dweck, MD, a New York-based gynecologist and author of The Complete A to Z For Your V. “It’s also really important to give credit to the complexity of women’s libido because there are so many things that go into it.”

Before turning to a magic pill—or, in this case, powder—to boost your libido, Dr. Dweck recommends paying a visit to your gynecologist first. Often, a low libido can be addressed by your healthcare provider in a way that’ll be way more effective than trying something like maca powder.

On hormone balance

Kearney still recommends maca root to her clients, specifically to women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome or acne, since it might have a positive impact on your body’s hormone balance and stress response, she says.

Maca root powder is known as an adaptogen, which theoretically means it adapts to the needs of the body. “Adaptogens work by supporting adrenal function and by decreasing the stress response,” says Kearney. In theory, this works to calm the endocrine system so it produces fewer stress hormones that can throw your system off, such as cortisol and adrenaline, says Kearney.

On energy levels

The powder doesn’t have any caffeine in it, so don’t ditch the cold brew just yet. However, Kearney has anecdotally had plenty of clients experience energy boosts from it. “But then I do have one or two who say they haven’t felt a difference at all, so it really does vary,” she says.

Maca side effects: Something to worry about, or no?

If you’re up for trying the powder, make sure you talk to your doctor first if you’re on any regular medications or have any health conditions, especially if those conditions are thyroid-related, says Kearney. Maca does contain goitrogens, substances that are known to interfere with thyroid function.

Women who are breastfeeding should also be cautious, as should those with hormone-related conditions, including ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

How to try maca powder

If you get the go-ahead from your doc, the first thing you should always make sure of is that you’re getting your maca root powder from a reliable source, since many powders on the market aren’t regulated or controlled for quality. If you really want to be safe, Keatley recommends buying the whole root and just powderizing it yourself. “Shave it into your dishes like you would a truffle,” she says.

It adds a subtle sweetness to morning dishes like overnight oats or chia seed pudding, says Kearney, but it can also taste delicious on cooked dishes for dinner, like cauliflower or sweet potatoes. “With the sweet potatoes, I take them out of the oven, and then I put the maca root on it,” says Kearney.

She recommends having 1 to 2 teaspoons per day for a minimum of 21 days to see the best results, since the powder can take a while to adapt to your body.


The bottom line: Although the health benefits of maca root powder aren’t yet proven by science, it could be worth trying if you’re looking for a sweet, nutritious addition to your morning smoothie—just don’t expect it to work miracles when it comes to your health.


Fool’s Gold: What Fish Oil is Doing to our Health and the Planet

I have teaching my Nutrition clients for 20 years to NOT TAKE FISH OILS, or any other oil in supplement form. Fats and oils that are not in their original packaging (nuts, fish, avocado, seeds, etc.) are rancid.  They are rancid as soon as they are exposed to oxygen. They are oxidized, and that renders them carcinogenic.

There is no reason to ever take oils as supplements, it is easy to come by these nutrients by eating seafood, avocadoes, butter, etc. Ingesting fish oils do not protect you from heart disease. A balanced diet that meets your nutrient needs does that. Along with exercise.

Is the evidence for fish-eating better than simply taking a fish oil pill?

Omega-3 is one of our favourite supplements – but a huge new study has found it has little or no benefit for heart health or strokes. How did it become a $30bn business?

Is the evidence for fish-eating better than simply taking a fish oil pill? Composite: Getty

The omega-3 industry is in a twist. Again. Last week, Cochrane, an organisation that compiles and evaluates medical research for the general public, released a meta-analysis – a study of studies – to determine whether or not omega-3 pills, one of the world’s most popular dietary supplements, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. After comparing 79 trials involving 112,059 people, the researchers could find “little or no difference to risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities”.

I can’t say that I was particularly surprised. Over the past 15 years, more than 20 studies have shown a similar lack of effect. But what does surprise me is how we continue to look at the world of fish and seafood through the amber lens of a fish oil capsule. Omega-3s do something in our bodies – and probably something important. But without the larger context of the marine organisms that contain them, omega-3s get lost in the noise of human metabolism and modern marketing.

The confusion arises in part from the historical baggage of fish oil and the $30bn (£23bn) industry associated with omega-3 extraction. Once upon a time, fish oil solved a major human health problem. But it had nothing to do with coronary heart disease. During the Industrial Revolution, a disease became increasingly prevalent throughout northern Europe: rickets. Malnourished children in sunlight-poor urban slums often ended up bowlegged by adolescence. Researchers eventually pieced the puzzle together and concluded that the disease was caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, which the body naturally generates in the presence of sunlight. And, as it turned out, vitamin D is stored in high amounts within the liver of codfish.

A Norwegian pharmacist named Peter Möller seized upon this finding (and many other anecdotal stories about the curative properties of cod-liver oil). Using a patented chemical process, he arrived at a product that, he announced to the world, “didn’t taste fishy”. Möller and his advertising team then launched a campaign to institutionalise the regular use of cod-liver oil, regardless of whether you were at risk of rickets or not. The campaign was a success: a spoonful a day became common practice. Möller built his company into an international presence and died in 1869 with 70 cod-liver oil steam factories to his name, churning out 5,000 barrels of the stuff a year. By the time omega-3s started to be a focus of medical research, there was already a rosy feeling around fish oil.

In the early 1970s, the chemist Hans Olaf Bang read in a Danish journal that there were extremely low incidences of cardiovascular disease in Inuit communities of Greenland. He and his assistant, Jørn Dyerberg, travelled to Uummannaq on the north-west coast of Greenland to investigate. At the time of the expedition, Bang didn’t quite know what he wanted to test for. They probed and palpated 130 local people, measured height and weight, and came home with a lot of blood.

“We had these 130 precious samples of blood,” Dyerberg told me in his lab in Copenhagen recently. They estimated that in 20 years, the traditional Inuit diet would have changed to the western diet, and Dyerberg remembers Bang saying: “‘There will never be anyone who can do this again, so let’s do whatever we can!’ And we decided to do fatty acid analysis.”

The result of their analysis was a hypothesis that is an exemplary “association study”. In an association study, multiple factors are logged and a hypothesis of correlation is drawn from the findings. In the case of the Bang and Dyerberg Inuit study, they found that: 1) Inuit people in Greenland had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and blood lipid levels of omega-3s much higher than their western contemporaries. 2) Inuit people also had, according to public health records, markedly lower rates of coronary heart disease. They hypothesised that therefore 3) omega-3s might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

This was backed up by further laboratory studies that did show, in vitro, that omega-3s were involved in anti-inflammatory reactions. But – and this is a big but – while correlations abound for omega-3s and heart disease, the real trouble has always been in showing causation. That is where this latest round of studies comes in.

The Cochrane study and the others that preceded it have one thing in common: they are meta-analyses of “randomised control trials” (RCTs). That is, trials where patients are given a supplement at random and tracked over time against another set of patients given a placebo. Most statisticians consider these trials to be the very top of the evidence pyramid. But it is these studies that have at times proven troublesome for Omega World. Each time RCTs come to light that show little or no effect, Omega World tends to blend its counterargument with evidence from association studies because, as a recent industry reply to the Cochrane report put it, “it’s all connected”.

When it then turns to the RCTs, the industry, as would be expected, looks for different explanations as to why positive health outcomes weren’t reported. In the burst of RCTs preceding Cochrane, the Omega World line was that these most recent trials did not show benefits because things such as statins, stents and other forms of cardiovascular intervention masked the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil pills; earlier RCTs had shown a fairly significant effect, but none of those treatments existed at the time of those trials.

The industry also, and I believe rightly, pointed out that studies often failed to look at omega-3 blood lipid levels before and after supplementation. In other words, it’s not really a fair trial if you don’t know where the patients started with respect to the omega-3 levels in their blood. If we only measure effect without looking at omega-3 levels in the blood at the outset, aren’t we doing the dietary equivalent of testing how far a car can drive without checking how much petrol is in the tank at the start?

With Cochrane, the latest industry argument is that the study’s authors cut out a number of different forms of cardiac ailments, thus skewing the stats. In particular, it notes that Cochrane failed to include “sudden cardiac death” and “sudden cardiac mortality” in its list of outcomes. Since nearly half of all patients first report heart disease to their doctors by suddenly dropping dead, this is not an insignificant exclusion.

But the fact that the industry’s arguments shift with each new, damning meta-analysis gives you pause. What is going on? Is there an international conspiracy to discredit omega-3s? Or does Omega World keep moving the goalposts? When I posed this question to Ellen Schutt, the executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, probably the world’s most prominent omega-3 advocacy organisation, she made it seem as if the problem didn’t even exist. “As a matter of fact, we track media sentiment … and have found many more positive omega-3 stories than negative, in general. Of course, the negative stories are the ones that catch people’s attention. As we both know, negative stories are much more interesting and the media is definitely guilty of sensationalist ‘clickbait’ headlines such as: ‘Omega-3s don’t work.’”

As sympathetic as I am to the trials of Omega World, as studies continue to poke holes in aspects of the omega-3 cardiovascular argument, I can’t help thinking there is something else going on. Because, while the fish oil supplement business is a big deal, it is also a sheen on the surface of a much deeper pond. Long before omega-3 supplements became popular, an industry arose that used the same omega-3-rich creatures not for medicine, but for an odd array of agricultural and industrial purposes.

Ultimately, it was this so-called “reduction industry” that created the oily-fish extraction system that now consumes millions of tonnes of marine wildlife every year. Today, one in every four kilograms of fish caught is reduced into oil and meal and used for agriculture, land animal husbandry and, most recently, fish farming, AKA aquaculture.

The reduction industry has appeared in different forms under different ownership over centuries of human history. In the 18th century, it targeted whales, reducing northern hemisphere cetacean populations into isolated pockets of endangered species in order to make lamp oil and lubricants. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it shifted to the southern hemisphere, reducing 390,000 of the 400,000 great whales that once roamed the Southern Ocean to margarine, nitroglycerine and other “marine ingredients”.

In the latter half of the 20th century, it shifted again and targeted small, oily fish such as anchovies, sardines and herring. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the largest reduction operation in human history arose off the coast of Peru in pursuit of the Peruvian anchoveta. The Peruvian anchoveta is by far the largest single species catch by tonnage in the world, some years comprising as much as 10% of all fish caught. And although Peruvian anchoveta are as delicious as any anchovy on Earth, an industry-influenced Peruvian law dictates that more than 95% of the catch must go to the reduction industry.

Each decade brings a different use for all those anchovies. In the 1940s, they were used for fertiliser. In the 50s and 60s, chicken feed. In the 70s, pet food and pig feed. In the 80s and 90s, aquafeed for salmon and other carnivorous fish. And now, the most elite product of the reduction industry: dietary supplements.

And it is not just Peruvian anchoveta that are reduced into fish meal and oil. All told, the reduction industry removes from the ocean 20m-25m tonnes annually – the equivalent of the combined weight of the population of the United States. The omega-3 industry argues that some vendors are turning to much more sustainable options, such as algae-based omega-3s and fish oil reclaimed from recycled byproducts.

Nevertheless, the reduction industry marches on into new territory. Most recently, it has begun targeting Antarctic krill, the keystone prey species of the entire Antarctic ecosystem. Two years ago, when I asked the then chief executive of the largest krill extractor in the world why it had launched a $200m fishing operation in the Southern Ocean to take food out of the mouths of whales, he noted that krill oil is a “phospholipid” and making it much more “bioavailable” means that consumers can take a much smaller pill. Why was this important? Consumers who chose krill oil over fish oil would be much less likely to suffer the horrors of a fishy burp.

Amid all the conflicting reports, there is one bit of data that shines out: fish and seafood can bring considerable health and environmental benefits. Fish, in addition to providing us with omega-3s, delivers protein with far fewer calories than meat: 100g of salmon contains 139 calories and 23g of protein. By comparison, 100g of beef contains 210 calories and 20g of protein.

Harvesting wild fish from well-managed stocks requires a fraction of the carbon as farming terrestrial livestock. Similarly, fish farming puts a lesser burden on the Earth in terms of carbon and freshwater use than pretty much any form of terrestrial animal husbandry. We could make the farming of fish even more carbon- and resource-efficient if we used alternative ingredients for fish food based on algae and food waste. And if you consider growing “filter feeders” such as mussels, clams and oysters, the benefits are even more extreme. These bivalves don’t have to be fed anything, and make water cleaner even as they grow fatter. They provide protein 30 times more efficiently than cattle.

Is the epidemiological evidence for fish-eating better than simply taking a fish oil pill? Again, we are stuck with the problem of correlation versus causation. It is very difficult to feed someone a fish in such a manner that they don’t know they are eating a fish. Hence an RCT of seafood-eating hasn’t really ever been done. Most of the studies around seafood are association studies. And, while one such study associated eating fish twice a week with a possible reduction in mortality of 55,000 lives a year, we don’t know what a fish-eater does with the rest of their life beyond eating fish.

But what we do know is this: the omega-3 industry and the reduction industry that bred it removes fish from the water in a way that doesn’t put protein on our plates – it just puts pills in our cupboards. Is this the way we want to continue to do business with the planet?

Paul Greenberg is the author of The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet (Penguin Press).


The Many Health Benefits of Broccoli

two heads of broccoli

 

These mini trees are notorious for being pushed off the plates of kids around the world, but broccoli’s reputation as one of the healthiest veggies still rings true.

Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips. These nutrition powerhouses supply loads of nutrients for few calories.

If you are trying to eat healthier, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli should be at the very top of your grocery list. If you or your kids are not big fans of broccoli, be sure to read the how to incorporate more broccoli into your diet section for tips and delicious recipes.

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of broccoli and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more broccoli into your diet, and any potential health risks of consuming broccoli.

Possible health benefits of consuming broccoli

Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like broccoli decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality.

It may also promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Fighting cancer

Eating a high amount of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of cancer; particularly lung and colon cancer. Studies have suggested that sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite, is also what gives them their cancer-fighting power.

Researchers have found that sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. The ability to stop HDAC enzymes could make sulforaphane-containing foods a potentially powerful part of cancer treatment in the future. Sulforaphane is now being studied for its ability to delay or slow cancer with promising results shown in melanoma, esophageal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.

Other easily recognized cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnips, and cabbage, as well as the lesser-known arugula, broccolini, daikon, kohlrabi, and watercress.

Another important vitamin that broccoli contains, folate, has been found to decrease the risk of breast cancer in women. Adequate intake of dietary folate (in food) has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers. Although the mechanism behind the protection is not understood, researchers believe that it may have something to do with folate’s role in DNA and RNA production and the prevention of mutations.

Improving bone health

Poor vitamin K intake is linked with a higher risk of bone fracture. Just one cup of chopped broccoli provides 92 micrograms of vitamin K, well over 100 percent of your daily need. Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin K improves bone health by improving calciumabsorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

Broccoli also contributes to your daily need for calcium, providing 43 milligrams in one cup.

Looking younger

Broccoli is rich in vitamin C.

The antioxidant vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form (in fresh produce as opposed to supplements) can help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture.

Many people automatically think of citrus fruit when they think of vitamin C, but did you know that broccoli provides 81 milligrams in just one cup? That is more than what you need in an entire day.

Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of collagen, the main support system for the skin. Vitamin A and vitamin E are also crucial for healthy looking skin, both of which broccoli provides.

Improved digestion and natural detoxification

Eating foods with a natural fiber like broccoli can prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer. Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.

Protection from chronic disease

According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

Nutritional breakdown of broccoli

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of chopped raw broccoli (approximately 91 grams) contains 31 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate (including 2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fiber) and 3 grams of protein.

Just one cup of broccoli provides over 100 percent of your daily need for vitamin C and vitamin K and is also a good source of vitamin A, folate, and potassium.

Broccoli ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to the ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index), which measures vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content in relation to caloric content.

To earn a high rank, a food must provide a high amount of nutrients for a small amount of calories.

How to incorporate more broccoli into your diet

Broccoli is famously one of the least favorite vegetables of many, along with its cruciferous cousin, Brussels sprouts. But what if you have just been storing and preparing it wrong?

Fresh, young broccoli should not taste fibrous, woody, or sulfurous. To make sure you get the best tasting broccoli, store the unwashed vegetable in loose or perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Only wash broccoli right before eating, as wet broccoli can develop mold and become limp.

Broccoli left at room temperature becomes fibrous and woody. You may not be able to tell by looking, but the flavor of broccoli continues to diminish the older it gets.

Broccoli can be added to wraps, pasta, pizza, or even made into a soup with onion and garlic.

Quick tips to enjoy more broccoli:

  • Keep it simple and sauté chopped broccoli drizzled with olive oil, cracked black pepper, and minced garlic.
  • Chop raw broccoli and add to your next wrap.
  • Top your flatbread or pizza with chopped broccoli before roasting.
  • Make your own pesto or pasta sauce and add broccoli.

Possible health risks of consuming broccoli

If you are taking blood-thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or less foods containing vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. The key to a healthful diet is to eat a variety of foods, rather than to concentrate on individual foods.


Eating Processed Meats Has Been Linked to Serious Psychiatric Problems

Oh, great. Bacongate 2.0.

Bacon

MIKE MCRAE

19 JUL 2018

Nitrate-cured meats – things like beef jerky or bacon – have been linked to extensive periods of hyperactivity, insomnia, and attention loss in people experiencing manic episodes.

Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University on patients receiving care for manic symptoms found they were over three times more likely to have ever eaten processed meat products than patients being treated for other psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia.

“We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out,” says the study’s lead author Robert Yolken.

“It wasn’t just that people with mania have an abnormal diet.”

The exact mechanism behind the link isn’t yet clear, but a follow-up experiment on rats fed jerky with their plain old rat chow resulted in increased movement and altered signalling in their hippocampus.

Changes were also noted in the rats’ gut microflora, hinting at a possible stepping stone between the nitrates in the meat and effects on their nervous system.

Taken all together, the results provide a strong suggestion that a diet rich in many varieties of ham, jerky or salami just might play a role in the development of mania-related conditions in at least some people.

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterised by dramatic swings in mood and energy levels, including mania. Episodes can last weeks, or even months, and can coincide with depression and psychosis.

The condition affects as many as one in 25 people at some time in their life, significantly impacting productivity and taking a serious toll on personal and community wellbeing.

Surprisingly little is known about the condition’s causes. There are strong hints of a genetic predisposition, though as with most neurological conditions there’s a lot more going on than a wonky gene or two.

Environmental factors that affect early development, from infections to maternal smoking, have been explored as possible explanations. Stress, head injuries, and preterm births are also considered potential risk factors.

Diet is yet another area attracting significant attention, with studies suggesting a westernised diet and higher glycemic loads might contribute to the development of symptoms.

For this study, the researchers used medical records to categorise more than 700 volunteer patients as having either mania, bipolar depression, a major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia.

They gave each patient a survey that asked questions such as, “Have you ever eaten locally procured dry cured meat”? and “Have you ever eaten undercooked fish such as rare tuna?”

Those in the mania category had an unusually high number of patients who’d consumed processed meats.

“Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania,” says Yolken.

The addition of nitrogen compounds in the form of sodium nitrite or potassium nitrate has been used to preserve meats for centuries, preventing decay, adding colour and reducing oxidation.

Nitrogen compounds in meat products have been linked with cancer in the past (never forget the great Bacongate of 2015 when the World Health Organization changed the carcinogen classification of processed meats).

But in this case it’s the nitrogen compounds’ influence on bacteria in our gut that could end up being the culprit. And this isn’t the first time nitrates in processed meats have been found to affect our health via our personal microbes.

Variations in microflora were deemed responsible for an overzealous digestion of nitrates in the diets of people who experienced migraines, causing their blood vessels to dilate more than usual and cause intense pain.

Our brains and the bacteria in our guts have a complicated relationship, one we’re still learning more about as we find connections between our bugs and our emotional state, the development of Parkinson’s disease, and even risk of strokes.  

So, it wouldn’t be a total shocker if further research confirms manic symptoms in bipolar can be exacerbated or even caused by certain microflora reacting to nitrates in our meats.

None of this means you need to ditch the jerky entirely. But to those who experience manic episodes, this might be useful information to perhaps help make their issues a little less severe.

This research was published in Molecular Psychiatry.


Diabetes Defeated by Diet: How New Fresh-Food Prescriptions are Beating Pricey Drugs

I have been teaching my clients how to heal from diabetes through nutrition for 20+ years.  It is not that hard.

  • Spending on diabetes drugs in the U.S. reached $53.7 billion last year, more than double what it was in 2013.
  • Roughly 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes.
  • The Fresh Food Farmacy program, being tested by Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, which includes education and free nutritious meals, can lower diabetes treatment costs by 80 percent.
  • The high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is being used by new health-care start-up Virta Health, which aims to treat 100 million patients by 2025.

At first glance Sami Inkinen, an elite triathlete and co-founder of the real estate company Trulia, and Rita Perkins, a grandmother of eight in central Pennsylvania, have little in common.

But they do share one thing: Both have grappled with diabetes.

“I thought, This is absolutely nuts,” Inkinen recalled of his diagnosis with prediabetes. “It was really a personal experience and a shocking experience that a world-class triathlete can become type 2 diabetic or prediabetic.”

For Perkins it was less of a surprise. Diabetes ran in her family, she said, and her weight had reached 300 pounds before she lost about 100 just through increased walking. But her diet was still bad, and she struggled to control her blood sugar.

Now things have turned around for both Perkins and Inkinen. And their paths were both through food.

In Shamokin, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles northwest of Allentown, Geisinger Health System is trying something new for some of its diabetes patients.

Instead of relying solely on drugs to manage the disease, doctors are writing prescriptions for certain patients to enter its Fresh Food Farmacy program: 15 hours of education about diabetes and healthier living, followed by 10 free nutritious meals a week for participants and their families.

Dietitian Anna Ziegler selects fresh produce for a Fresh Food Farmacy patient.

Geisinger

Dietitian Anna Ziegler selects fresh produce for a Fresh Food Farmacy patient.

“In health care we spend an awful lot on drugs and devices because it’s business,” said Dr. Andrea Feinberg, Geisinger’s medical director of health and wellness. “But we spend a very small amount on preventive medicine. … It’s sort of like we’re upside down and backward.”

The program targets people with diabetes and food insecurity, those for whom it’s not always clear where the next meal will come from.

“We understand the relationship of food insecurity and the impact that poverty has on developing certain lifestyle conditions, like type 2 diabetes,” Feinberg said. She added that the goal is “to diminish complications of diabetes and also close the meal gap to end hunger.”

The program, started 18 months ago, is a partnership with the Pennsylvania Food Bank. So far, it’s enrolled 150 patients, feeding a total of about 450 people a week.

Rita Perkins, her husband and three grandchildren who live with them are among those families. For Perkins the program has been transformative.

Each week, she visits the Farmacy and picks out food with guidance from a nutritionist. Perkins said the food, along with what she learned in the course about managing diabetes, has changed not just her approach to eating but also her family’s.

“Before, I’d never buy this stuff; I would never buy fresh fruit,” Perkins recalled. “Money was tight. And now since I get this stuff for free, I can put it on the table for the kids.”

Since she started the program, Perkins said her weight has dropped to 134 from 179. She walks all over town and said her doctors are evaluating the doses of her diabetes medications. Her blood sugar, measured by an A1C test, has been a steady 5.8 percent for the last six months (normal A1C, according to the National Institutes of Health, is below 5.7 percent).

“If a new diabetes drug became available that could double the effectiveness of glucose control, it would likely be priced considerably higher than $6 per week (and if it wasn’t, the pharmaceutical firm’s stockholders would be in revolt).”-Andrea Feinberg , Geisinger’s medical director of health and wellness

Those results aren’t atypical. On average, patients in the program have seen their A1C levels drop from a pre-enrollment level of 9.6 percent to 7.5 percent, Feinberg and colleagues wrote in an April article in NEJM Catalyst that they called “Prescribing Food as a Specialty Drug.”

“Clinically, we see great outcomes,” Feinberg told CNBC. “The impact is that we really know long-term that we’ll see a decrease in incidence of heart disease, the No. 1 killer here in the United States, because if you improve the diabetes, improve your cardiac risk factors, you have less heart disease as well.”

The program also should save money. With operational costs of $2,400 per patient each year, early findings show costs for patients in Geisinger Health Plan dropped by 80 percent: from an average of $240,000 per member per year, to $48,000 per member per year.

“If a new diabetes drug became available that could double the effectiveness of glucose control, it would likely be priced considerably higher than $6 per week (and if it wasn’t, the pharmaceutical firm’s stockholders would be in revolt),” Feinberg and her colleagues wrote.

Indeed, spending on diabetes drugs in the United States reached $53.7 billion last year, more than double what it was in 2013. The number of prescriptions in that time rose 18 percent, to 227 million, according to data from industry researcher IQVIA.

Ketogenic diet led to drop in blood glucose, weight and drug usage

Almost 3,000 miles away, in San Francisco, Inkinen got his startling diagnosis: He was pre-diabetic even as he set records in endurance sports (in 2014 he and his wife rowed across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii, he said on his blog: 2,750 miles in 45 days and 3 hours, setting a speed world record for two people.)

His solution? The ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate way of eating that’s enraptured many in Silicon Valley.

“There is a way to reduce insulin resistance without exercise, without dieting or without bariatric surgery, using the traditional ketosis,” Inkinen told CNBC. “But to deliver this type of treatment, you would need technology and the ability to continuously monitor and deliver care.”

Inkinen’s online real estate information company, Trulia, was sold in 2014 to Zillow for $3.5 billion. So naturally, the next step for Inkinen was to start a new company. He teamed with a doctor and a scientist, Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, and founded Virta Health.

Virta connects patients virtually with doctors and coaches who help tailor the ketogenic diet to their lifestyles and monitor certain biomarkers daily.

In a trial of about 260 patients, published last year in JMIR Diabetes, Virta’s treatment led to reductions in blood glucose, weight and use of diabetes medication after 10 weeks. After a year A1C levels were down an average of 1.3 percent, diabetes medication usage was down 48 percent, and body weight was down 12 percent.

To cardiologist Ethan Weiss, who sits on Virta’s scientific advisory board, the outcomes are strong enough to recommend the program to his patients.

“For people with type 2 diabetes headed toward bariatric surgery, to have this result, that they’re coming off almost all insulin, coming down on almost all other diabetes medicines, losing weight, feeling like they control their diet, I think it’s an awesome thing to recommend,” said Weiss, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

While most of the metrics move dramatically in the right direction — Inkinen says 60 percent of patients see their diabetes reversed in a span of between two and nine months — Weiss notes one data point that may not. Levels of LDL, or so-called bad cholesterol, appear to rise on the ketogenic diet. But he notes a distinction in the type of LDL that goes up, saying it may not be the type that leads to clogged arteries. And he says LDL levels can be controlled with drugs called statins, like Lipitor, if that’s a concern (though he said to him it’s not).

Virta’s program, which costs $370 a month after a $500 initiation fee if patients pay out of pocket, also saves money, according to Inkinen, who estimates an average savings of $9,600 per patient in the first 24 months in drug and medical costs. After the first year the cost drops to $199 a month.

The company is working to expand to more coverage from insurers and employers, with the goal of reversing diabetes in 100 million people by 2025.

That’s about the number of Americans with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As usage — and costs — of diabetes medicines rise, both Geisinger and Virta are showing that food, along with a healthy dose of education and support, can go a long way in changing the course of this disease.