Weight loss after bariatric surgery can improve heart health

In overweight and obese people, fat often gets deposited into the midsection of the body. Large amounts of this belly fat can lead to unhealthy changes in a heart’s function and size. However, according to new findings presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2017, a bariatric surgical procedure, and the weight loss that follows it, actually may allow the heart to return to its natural shape and function.

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When a person lifts weights, pushing against resistance, their muscles eventually get bigger. The same is true for the heart muscle. When a person is overweight, the heart has to generate more force to pump even more blood throughout the body. This extra workload causes the heart muscle to grow bigger, but contrary to what some people think, a bigger heart muscle does not mean a stronger heart. In fact, the larger the heart, the less efficacious it is in fulfilling its functions.

“We know that obesity is the most prevalent disease in the United States. And that the cardiovascular system is significantly affected by this disease process,” said lead study author Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, chairman, Department of General Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida. “But we wanted to know to what degree the shape of the heart changes in someone who is obese, what the heart looks like in someone after having bariatric surgery and losing weight, and how that change in geometry affects heart functionality.” For this study, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic reviewed data on 51 obese men and women who underwent bariatric surgery between 2010 and 2015. The analysis included factors such as body mass index (BMI) and coexisting health problems. The average age of the patients was 61 years, and the average BMI was 40; approximately 100 pounds overweight.

To better understand the impact of a bariatric operation and weight loss on heart health, the researchers compared preoperative and postoperative echocardiography readings. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that measures not only its size and geometry but also its function. An echocardiogram measures how much blood is in the heart, how much blood goes out of the heart, and how much blood remains in the heart. One year after bariatric surgery, the researchers found significant improvements in patients’ heart health. Nearly half of the patients had hearts that had gone back to their natural shape or geometry. They also found that there was a significant improvement in the size of the ventricles: On average these chambers of the heart decreased in size by 15.7 percent (left ventricle mass: 229 grams before surgery; 193 grams after surgery. Left ventricular wall diameter: 60.1 mm before surgery; 53.7 mm after surgery.)Related image

Larger chambers lose some of their pumping power. This loss means that more blood stays in the heart, and ultimately increases a person’s risk of heart failure. “When the size of the chambers gets bigger, and the walls of the heart get thicker, the blood flow to the heart is not as good, the functionality of the heart is not as good, and the heart itself doesn’t get enough blood,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “The whole body suffers because there is less blood going to your feet and to your toes and to your brain.” This study is the beginning of a series of studies that will be conducted by these researchers over the next few years. They will perform follow up studies to find out what the window is in which losing weight allows the heart to go back to its normal geometry.

“We don’t know if being obese for 20 years and having changes in your heart geometry is different from being obese for 10 years,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “The question is: Will the heart always come back to normal? It could be if you wait too long, the changes in your heart are irreversible.”

Adapted by: American College of Surgeons. “Weight loss after bariatric surgery can improve heart health: Significant improvements in heart shape and function can happen one year after an operation for weight loss.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171024232822.htm>

Nutritional Nugget

Take a walk instead! Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend or colleague to join you.

WOD Nugget

Relume: Relight or rekindle (a light, flame, etc.)

Inspirational Nugget

I smile because I have survived everything the world has thrown at me. I smile because when I was knocked down I got back up.

“Ego could be defined as whatever covers up basic goodness. From an experiential point of view, what is ego covering up? It’s covering up our experience of just being here, just fully being where we are so that we can relate with the immediacy of our experience. Egolessness is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness of the world. It is unconditional well-being, an unconditional joy that includes all the different qualities of our experience.”

~Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

8 WAYS TO EAT HEALTHY ON THE CHEAP

JUST VISIT YOUR LOCAL HEALTH FOOD STORE, AND THE PROSPECT OF EATING HEALTHIER MAY SEEM WAY, WAY, WAY OUT OF YOUR BUDGET.

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And, at times, it can be. If you trade your favorite packaged foods for healthier versions, you could see your grocery budget go up by at least a 1/3 (it might even double). You can’t stop paying rent, mortgage or bills just so you can eat exotic foods found in the health food store (or I would not suggest you do)…so that dietary change you’re aching to do (and your body might be hurting for it too…) might seem utterly impossible. To start making dietary changes (healthy changes) on a minimal food budget, begin by slowly removing packaged and processed foods from your daily food regimen, and as your willpower and budget allow, incorporate more whole, fresh foods. Before you know it, your grocery cart will be filled to the brim with healthy, whole foods and you will see that the dietary change you were aching to do, has come true!

Yes, in a perfect world this may happen, but then you wake up from your dream and remember that money doesn’t grow on trees! For a majority of us, we have to live on a budget. Sometimes that budget grows and sometimes, well, it shrinks. Just remember not to continue shopping with the “growing budget” when you are on the “shrinking budget” and drain your bank account. So, when you’re not dreaming, and in the real world, how do you eat healthy while on a teeny weeny budget? Is it possible to buy enough groceries to feed two people for a week for less than $20? If you are conservative enough, then yes, it is, and if you do it for long enough where it becomes a skill when you do get that “dream” budget, you will (or hopefully) continue to shop as you did on the “shrinking budget.” So, what are the frugal ways to eat healthier?

1. Make a grocery list.

This simple task can really help reduce a lot of extraneous spending throughout the week. One missing ingredient or staple can mean a few more take-out lunches or dinners. So make it as easy as possible, and have a notepad on your fridge. As soon as you notice a staple is running low (less than a week left), add it to the list. Therefore, when it’s grocery-time, you don’t have to search through the fridge and cupboards to find what’s needed. You will more than likely only need to add some fresh produce and voila, your list is made.

2. Have important staples on hand.

Meal planning can be challenging. You may do great at planning out the first few days only to find yourself throwing something together by the end of the week, with what’s left in the fridge. And this can work, why? Because you already have certain staples on hand, such as:

  • Good oils: Extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, and sesame oil
  • Frozen veggies: They fill in the gaps if you’re running low at the end of the week
  • Beans: Dried or canned
  • Canned tuna or canned wild salmon
  • Whole grains: Rice, oats, quinoa
  • Condiments: Mustard, soy sauce (low sodium), balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, miso
  • Nut butter’s and hummus (excellent protein options)

Many lovely dinners can be made from these ingredients. So if these are not common staples, you may consider adding them to your new healthy diet repertoire.

3. Buy Seasonally.

A $6 container of strawberries in January or $4/lb for apples in June is not budget friendly. Buying “in season” can really reduce your grocery bill and your body will love it. Buy berries and tomatoes in the summer and freeze for use all year long.

4. Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat.

This will really stretch your budget, and it might also allow you to buy organic or free-range instead of conventionally grown meats. Buy bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Buy stewing beef instead of tenderloin and pull out your crockpot that’s collecting dust (or find one at a thrift shop). It will make that tougher cut absolutely delicious.

5. Enjoy More Vegetarian Meals.

This one step can save you SO much money, and it can be better for the planet! Beans and lentils are significantly cheaper sources of protein than meat. If you’re a heavy meat eater, try just 1 or 2 vegetarian lunches or dinners and watch your grocery bill go down!

6. Buy Whole Foods.

Instead of packaged or processed “healthy” foods. The most expensive meals at health food stores are the healthier versions of packaged foods (cereal, mac ‘n’ cheese, pizza, veggie burgers, etc.). Buy whole foods and try some new recipes. Use these packaged foods as an occasional treat.

7. Buy Grains and Beans in Bulk.

Bulk stores or bulk sections at your favorite health food store is a great place to save lots of money on your grocery bill. This is especially true for the more expensive grains like quinoa. Organic spices are also a great find in a bulk section; organic quality for the price of conventional.

8. Cook at Home.

If you’re currently eating out or even just buying coffee a few times per week, keep track of how much you’re spending. $10 here and $30 there can add up over a month, and this extra cash can really go far at the grocery store. Once you know how much you’re spending, you can budget for take-out or coffee treats you really want and put the rest into your grocery budget. If your favorite treat is wine (then we really need to get together for a glass!), enjoy a few glasses a week but ensure to spend any extra money on food quality first, then the booze. Your body undoubtedly prefers a good breakfast omelet over a hangover. And once you have high-quality foods and there is still some “bucks” left, then go ahead and buy that extra bottle!food-plate-morning-breakfast.jpg

If YOU have additional tips and tricks on how to stretch your grocery budget, please send me your ideas and share them in the comments! Happy food budgeting.

Adapted from: Lisa Kilgour, nutritionist

Nutrition Nugget

Make it easy! Keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen table or countertop. It makes it easier to choose a healthy snack when it’s in plain sight!

WOD Nugget

Picayune: A small coin of little value, especially a 5-cent piece.

Inspirational Nugget 

Don't be a beggar of love, be a donor of love, beautiful people are not always good, but good people are always beautiful.

“This path entails uncovering three qualities of being human, three basic qualities that have always been with us but perhaps have gotten buried and been almost forgotten. These qualities are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. If we are not obscuring our intelligence with anger, self-pity or craving, we know what will help and what will make things worse. Natural warmth is our shared capacity to love, to have empathy, to have a sense of humor. It is also our capacity to feel gratitude and appreciation and tenderness. The third quality of basic goodness is natural openness, the spaciousness of our skylike minds. We can connect with that openness at any time. For instance, right now, for three seconds, just stop reading and pause.”

-Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genetics may put a person at risk of high triglycerides, but adopting a healthy diet can help

Triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, are essential for good health. However, having high triglycerides might increase a person’s risk of heart disease, and could be a sign of metabolic syndrome, a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and too much fat accumulation at the waist. People with metabolic syndrome have increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

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A new study from nutrition researchers at the University of Illinois shows that some individuals with variations of a “gene of interest” may be at an even higher risk of developing high triglycerides. Specifically, researchers looked at genetics and risk in a group of young Mexican adults. Despite genetic predisposition, the study shows that maintaining healthy body weight or changing diet can help reverse the risk. Katie Robinson, a former doctoral student in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences and fellow of the I-TOPP program, explains that the study is a collaboration between the University of Illinois and the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico (UASLP), also known as UP AMIGOS. “Obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. and Mexico. In the U.S., obesity affects over a third of our population. We’re concerned because obesity is associated with other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high triglycerides,” Robinson explains. Compared to Caucasian groups, Hispanics in the U.S. have higher rates of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. Of all Hispanic subgroups, those of Mexican heritage have one of the highest risks for obesity and associated diseases.”

The UP AMIGOS project addresses genetic and environmental factors associated with obesity and related conditions among younger adults in Mexico. “A lot of existing data are from Caucasian cohorts, which means we needed to replicate and better understand those findings in groups with different ethnicities. That’s the main goal of the UP AMIGOS project. “It was a great opportunity that we were able to look at this rich data set from young Mexican adults because we know that this population has a greater likelihood of developing not only obesity but also high triglycerides and diabetes,” Robinson adds. For the current study, Robinson was interested in a protein made in the liver called fetuin-A (FetA). “It’s an interesting marker connecting inflammation with obesity and its associated diseases,” she says. “FetA is a protein that is released from adipose tissue and also the liver. We know FetA is integral to insulin sensitivity, and that’s where most of the research has been done to look at its function.

“We also know that FetA is elevated in obesity and diabetes. Therefore, we were interested in looking at the genetic implication. If there are alterations or single nucleotide polymorphisms within the gene that codes for FetA, does that change somebody’s risk for obesity or the associated diseases?” To answer that, the researchers looked at bloodwork from 641 young Mexican adults to analyze biomarkers and genotypes. They also checked body mass index (BMI), took measurements of fasting glucose levels, and had the participants report on their dietary habits. From the genotyping, they were explicitly looking for occurrences of two mutations of the gene, AHSG, a gene that influences the protein FetA. They were interested in the association of those gene mutations with dietary intake, weight, and also biological markers of health.

The AHSG polymorphisms were found to be associated with triglycerides. Robinson explains the most critical finding is that one of these polymorphisms, or mutations, was associated with higher circulating triglycerides, but that correlation was very dependent on BMI and dietary intake, the relationship was exaggerated in individuals who were overweight. “So with an elevated BMI, we saw greater disorder within those carrying the risk genotype. But if these individuals who had the high-risk AHSG genotype had a lower BMI, their triglycerides were lower. It suggests that even if you carry the high-risk genotype, you don’t have a greater risk of high triglycerides if you can maintain a normal BMI or a lower BMI, which I think is a positive finding when we look at genetics.”

Robinson says diet also played a role in higher triglycerides. “Higher carbohydrate intake, specifically sugar or sucrose intake, was associated with elevated triglycerides. This association was mainly in one genotype group. The thought was perhaps these individuals are more sensitive to certain diets than the other genotype groups.” Regardless of genotype, elevated BMI was associated with higher triglycerides. Due to the relationship between FetA and diabetes, the researchers also wanted to see if there was an association with AHSG mutations and glucose, but surprisingly, they did not find any.

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While the study looked at relatively healthy young adults in a Mexican population, results were different than what has been observed in previous research from Caucasian groups. Robinson explains that they might have seen different results if they had looked at older Mexican adults with poorer health. Some good news from the study’s findings is that maintaining a healthy body weight often can overcome the effects of gene related metabolic disease and type 2 diabetes. “We know that genes aren’t everything,” Robinson says. “There are a lot of things we can do, behaviorally, to change our individual risk. It’s a silver lining in our research. We can’t modify our genetics, but we can modify our epigenomes and some behaviors. You can still have positive health outcomes.”

The results are also significant for the future of developing personalized nutrition as interventions for disease, Robinson says. “In practical terms, it would be ideal to start by understanding someone’s basic biology, which may influence how they’re metabolizing and utilizing the nutrients they are eating. It would be great to bring people in, find out where their biology is at, and then tailor a diet for them, but we need a lot more research before we get to that point.” Margarita Teran-Garcia, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at U of I adds, “In order to advance the full potential of precision medical and nutritional sciences, there is a need to invest and create new sustained resources, financial and technological, to build the evidence base needed to guide clinical practice and strategic planning in public health.”

Adapted from:  Katie N. Robinson, Itzel Vazquez-Vidal, Courtney Marques, Flavia Cristina Drumond Andrade, Celia Aradillas-Garcia, Margarita Teran-Garcia. Circulating Triglycerides and the Association of Triglycerides with Dietary Intake Are Altered by Alpha-2-Heremans-Schmid Glycoprotein PolymorphismsJournal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, 2017; 75 DOI: 10.1159/00047

Nutrition Nugget

Model healthy habits! Adults who choose low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt show kids that dairy is an important part of a healthy eating style. When kids model this behavior, their growing bones will thank you.

WOD Nugget

Bitts: A pair of posts on the deck of a ship for fastening mooring lines or cables.

Inspiration Nugget

Sometimes all it takes is one small prayer to change someone's life.

 “When you come from the view that you’re fundamentally good rather than fundamentally flawed, as you see yourself speak or act out, as you see yourself repress, you will have a growing understanding that you’re not a bad person who needs to shape up but a good person with temporary, malleable habits that are causing you a lot of suffering. And then, in that spirit, you can become very familiar with these temporary but strongly embedded habits. We all carry around trunk loads of old habits, but very fortunately for us, they’re removable.”

~Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

Is Bacon Bad For You, or Good? The Salty, Crunchy Truth

Many people have a love-hate relationship with bacon. They love the taste and crunchiness but are still worried that all that processed meat and fat may be harming them. There are many myths in the history of nutrition that haven’t stood the test of time, but is the idea that bacon causes harm one of them? 

 

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How is Bacon Made?

There are different types of bacon and the final product can vary between manufacturers. Bacon is most commonly made from pork, the meat from pigs, although you can also find “bacon” made from the meat of other animals like turkey. Bacon typically goes through a curing process, where the meat is soaked in a solution of salt, nitrates, spices and sometimes sugar. In some cases, the bacon is smoked afterward, and the curing is done to preserve the meat. The salt solution makes the meat an unfriendly environment for bacteria to live in and the nitrates also fight bacteria and help the bacon preserve its red color.

Bacon is a processed meat, but the amount of processing and the ingredients used vary between manufacturers.

Bacon is Loaded With Fats… But They’re “Good” Fats.

The fats in bacon are roughly 50% monounsaturated, 40% saturated, with 10% cholesterol. A large part of the monounsaturated fats is oleic acid, which is the same fatty acid that olive oil is praised for and generally considered “heart-healthy.” Saturated fat, in moderation, may not be as harmful as once thought and cholesterol in the diet does not affect cholesterol in the blood, so a bite or two of bacon may not be that harmful.

Depending on what the animal ate, about 10% are polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly Omega-6). These are the “bad” fats in bacon because most people already eat too much of these fats. However, if you choose bacon from pastured pigs that ate a natural diet, then this won’t be much of an issue. But if your pigs are commercially fed, with plenty of soy and corn (like most pigs are), then the bacon may contain enough Omega-6 to cause problems, if not consumed in moderation.

Bacon is Fairly Nutritious.

Meat tends to be very nutritious and bacon is no exception. A typical 100g portion of cooked bacon contains:

  • 37 grams of high-quality animal protein.
  • Lots of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12.
  • 89% of the RDA for Selenium.
  • 53% of the RDA for Phosphorus.
  • Decent amounts of the minerals iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.

Bacon is also fairly high in sodium, which makes sense given how it is cured with sodium during processing. Some studies show that excess sodium can elevate blood pressure and raise the risk of heart disease, while other studies show that too little sodium leads to the opposite result (If you are currently on the “western” diet, then consuming too little sodium should not be an issue.). If you’re already avoiding the biggest sources of sodium in the diet (processed, packaged foods) then I don’t think you need to worry about the amount of sodium in bacon. For healthy people who don’t have high blood pressure, there is no evidence that eating a bit of sodium causes harm.

Nitrates, Nitrites, and Nitrosamines.

Now that we know saturated fat, cholesterol and normal amounts of sodium are usually nothing to worry about (in moderation), this leaves us with the nitrates, which our bodies are filled with. Previous studies linked nitrates with cancer; however, these studies have since been refuted. They are not just found in bacon but also in veggies, which are the largest dietary source of nitrates.

Our saliva also contains massive amounts of nitrates, and these compounds are natural parts of the human bodily processes. There is some concern that during high heat cooking, the nitrates can form compounds called nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. However, vitamin C is now frequently added to the curing process, which effectively reduces the nitrosamine content. The harmful effects of nitrosamines are outweighed by potential benefits. But, dietary nitrates may also be converted to Nitric Oxide, which is associated with improved immune function and cardiovascular health.

Other Potentially Harmful Compounds.

When it comes to cooking meat, we need to find balance. Too much is bad, and too little can be worse. If we use too much heat and burn the meat, it will form harmful compounds like Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Heterocyclic Amines, which are associated with cancer. On the other hand, some meats may contain pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. For this reason, meat needs to be cooked well enough to kill the bacteria, so cook your bacon properly. It should be crunchy, but not burnt.

What The Studies Say.

There are concerns when it comes to bacon and other processed meats. Many observational studies do show a link between consumption of processed meat, cancer, and heart disease. In particular, processed meat has been associated with cancer of the colon, breast, liver, lungs, and others. There is also an association between processed meat and cardiovascular disease. A large meta-analysis of prospective studies on meat consumption did show that while regular meat had no effect, processed meat was significantly associated with both heart disease and diabetes.

Of course, those who eat processed meat are also more likely to smoke, exercise less and live an overall unhealthier lifestyle than people who don’t. People who are eating processed meat in these studies may be eating them with pancakes, soft drinks or beer and might even have ice cream for dessert afterward (and there is nothing wrong with a scoop every now and then!). Therefore, we can’t draw too many conclusions from these findings. Correlation does not equal causation. However, these studies should not be ignored, because the associations are consistent and they are fairly strong.

How to Make The Right Choices.  Image result for Is Bacon Bad For You, or Good? The Salty, Crunchy Truth

As with most other types of meats, the quality of the final product depends on a lot of things, including what the animals ate and how the product was processed. The best bacon is from pasture-raised pigs that ate a diet that is appropriate for pigs. If you can, buy bacon from local farmers that used traditional processing methods. If you don’t have the option of purchasing your bacon directly from the farmer, then eat supermarket bacon at your own risk. Generally speaking, the less artificial ingredients in a product, the better.

If you want to make your own bacon, you can buy pork belly and then process or prepare the bacon yourself. There are several studies showing that bacon is linked to cancer and heart disease, but all of them are so-called epidemiological studies, which can not prove causation. Overall and based on studies that I have read, bacon is not harmful when consumed in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle (OR when staying clear of refined carbohydrates and sugars). But it is a processed meat after all, and at the end of the day, you have to make your own choice. Do you think including this awesome food in your life is worth the risk? I know I am not giving up this crunchy yumminess! What better than a BLT?? However, YOU must decide, so form your own opinion based on scientific studies. 

Adapted from: Kris Gunnars, BSc

Nutrition Nugget

Separate, do not cross contaminate! Remember to separate foods in order to not cross contaminate when cooking. Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

WOD  Nugget

Garrulous: Excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters

Inspiration Nugget

7 Rules for a Happy Life: 1. Think of others more than yourself. 2. Laugh every day. 3. Spend less money than you make. 4. Be an encourager NOT a critic. 5. Pray when you feel like worrying. 6. Give thanks when you feel like complaining. 7. Keep going when you feel like quitting.

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”

~Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

7 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Beets

These sweet, earthy root veggies are packed with surprising health benefits.

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You can’t beat beets! After years of being relegated to the recesses of the salad bar buffet next to the shredded cheese and buttered croutons, beets are enjoying their much-deserved place at the center stage of a healthy diet. They’re not only chock-full of essential everyday nutrients like B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium, these ruby gems also are a goldmine of health-boosting nutrients that you may not get anywhere else. Check out these great and surprising things that happen to your body when you eat beets.

Blood pressure improves

Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, turning them into superhighways for your nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood. That means better circulation and possibly lower blood pressure. A very small study from 2012 found that 13 men who drank just one glass of beet juice temporarily lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 to 5 points. (Note: the study was funded by a beet juice manufacturer.) Another study published in Hypertension in 2008 (which didn’t receive funding from beet-juice makers) found that those who drank the red root juice had a 10 mm Hg drop in blood pressure and less blood clotting three hours later, compared to those who drank water.

Your heart disease risk may drop

Beets also have a potentially positive impact on your blood pressure. They are rich in a plant alkaloid called betaine, as well as the B-vitamin folate, which together delivers a one-two punch for lowering blood levels of homocysteine, which in high concentrations increases your risk for artery damage and heart disease.

You may improve your stamina

When elite athletes pee in a cup for a drug test, the color might be crimson. Why? Because lots of athletes eat beets, and beets contain pigments that turn urine pink.  Athletes also know that research has suggested that nitrates boost endurance performance. In one study, cyclists who drank beet juice could pedal 15% longer in a time trial to exhaustion. It takes approximately three to five beets (depending on their size, which varies widely) to get a performance boost, says study author Andy Jones, Ph.D., dean of research in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter. “Peak nitrate levels occur two to three hours after you eat or drink them,” he says. So time your intake accordingly if you want to crush your 5K.

Your brain may work better

Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates your blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow to the brain, resulting in better brain function. This is particularly important as we age, as research finds that our capacity to generate nitric oxide diminishes as we get older, along with our brain’s energy metabolism and neuron activity, so give your mind a boost with beets. In one small 2010 study, 14 older men and women (average age of 74) who ate a high-nitrate diet, including beet juice, for two days enjoyed more blood flow to the frontal lobe of their brains, than when they ate a low-nitrate diet. The frontal lobe is a region known to be involved with executive functioning skills, such as focus, organization, and attention to detail,

Your liver will be lighter

Your liver does the heavy work of cleaning your blood and “detoxing” your body. You can lighten its load with a daily serving of beets. Research shows that betaine, an amino acid found in beets (as well as spinach and quinoa) can help prevent and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. Animal studies show that rats given beet juice have higher levels of detoxifying enzymes in their bloodstream. Research on people with diabetes shows that betaine improves liver function, slightly decreases cholesterol, and reduces liver size.

You may be better at fighting chronic diseasesRelated image

Beets are also rich in betalains, a class of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that battle free radical-and inflammation-related chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and possibly cancer. Research suggests that betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets its pretty purple hue may help protect against everyday carcinogens. It has also shown promise against laboratory-grown breast cancer cells and is currently being investigated as a cancer-fighter.

You become regular

“One way to beat irregularity and constipation is by eating fiber-rich foods like beets,” says Leslie Bonci, RD, a sports nutritionist at Pittsburgh-based company Active Eating Advice. One cup of beets delivers about 4 grams of dietary fiber, mainly insoluble fiber, which helps reduce the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis. The betaine found in beets has also been shown to improve digestion. Just take note, your pee isn’t the only thing beets turn pink. Don’t be alarmed if you see crimson-colored stools 24 to 72 hours following a meal heavy in beets.

You can’t beat beets!

Nutrition Nugget

Include veggies for breakfast! Try adding chopped mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, or peppers to scrambled eggs or a breakfast wrap.

WOD Nugget

Eschew: Deliberately avoid using; abstain from

Inspiration Nugget

When my arms can't reach people, who are close to my heart, I always hug them with my prayers.

 

Calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes

Researchers found that calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes in mice and monkeys. The findings suggest a mechanism for how calorie restriction extends lifespan.

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Ok….lets feel better about aging!

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Calorie restriction has been shown to extend lifespan in several different species, but the underlying reason isn’t known. During normal aging, epigenetic changes occur throughout cells in the body. These changes alter the way genes are switched on and off without changing the DNA sequence itself. Levels of one type of epigenetic modification, called DNA methylation, have been shown to roughly reflect a person’s age. To investigate whether caloric restriction affects DNA methylation, a team of scientists led by Dr. Jean-Pierra J. Issa at Temple University examined the epigenetic profiles of mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. They then tested whether these changes were altered by a calorie-restricted diet in mice and monkeys.

The team first analyzed DNA methylation in blood from mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. Each species showed similar changes in DNA methylation patterns as they aged. These changes are called methylation drift, or epigenetic drift. The rates of epigenetic drift were inversely correlated with lifespan. That is, the shorter the species lifespan, the faster the changes in DNA methylation. This finding suggests that DNA methylation helps regulate the effects of aging.

The team then tested whether a calorie-restricted diet could slow methylation drift by feeding a group of mice 40% fewer calories than controls starting when they were 0.3 years old until they were 2.7 to 3.2 years old. They also fed rhesus monkeys a diet with 30% fewer calories than controls starting at the age of 7–14 years old until they were 22 to 30 years old. The changes in DNA methylation patterns slowed for the animals fed a calorie-restricted diet. Monkeys on a calorie-restricted diet showed the same patterns of DNA methylation as monkeys who were 7 years younger but had eaten regular diets. This methylation age difference was even higher in mice.

The team then compared the rates of epigenetic drift to telomere shortening. Telomeres are molecular caps at the ends of chromosomes. Their length has previously been linked to the aging process. Calorie restriction had no measurable effect on telomere length. “The impacts of calorie restriction on lifespan have been known for decades, but thanks to modern quantitative techniques, we are able to show for the first time a striking slowing down of epigenetic drift as lifespan increases,” Issa says.

More studies are needed to better understand why age-related epigenetic changes occur faster in some people than others, and whether altering them could help prolong human life. The study was funded by National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute on Aging (NIA). Results appeared online on September 14, 2017, in Nature Communications.

Adapted from: Caloric restriction delays age-related methylation drift. Maegawa S, Lu Y, Tahara T, Lee JT, Madzo J, Liang S, Jelinek J, Colman RJ, Issa JJ. Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 14;8(1):539. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00607-3. PMID: 28912502.

Nutritional Nugget

Barely eat barley? This hearty whole grain can be used in soups, salads, risottos, or cooked like oatmeal for breakfast.

WOD Nugget

Jaded: Bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something

Inspiration Nugget

The longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you fight for something, the more priceless it becomes once you achieve it. The more pain you endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. Remember... all good things are worth waiting for and fighting for.