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.

 

 

What Are the Benefits of a Raw Foods Diet?

It seems like everywhere you turn, the term “raw” appears on popular food labels. Natural food stores are stocking their shelves with commercial raw vegan products from “raw protein bars” to “raw almond butter,” “raw sugar,” and even “raw chocolate.” By some estimates, the raw foods industry has experienced double-digit growth over the past couple of years, and there are no signs of slowing down.

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The boom for the raw foods industry is not just limited to the grocery store aisles. Juice shops are opening up in cities across the country, promoting the benefits of consuming raw, fresh-pressed fruits and vegetables. Bottled, unpasteurized juices are becoming more readily available at mainstream stores and even coffee shop chains. With this influx of raw food and beverage options in the market, it can be difficult to discern what the optimal foods are if you want to follow a proper raw foods diet. Without adequate information, many consumers are often left wondering “is this diet truly healthy?”

Can I really survive on just vegetables?

Two of the very first questions curious minds may ask about a raw foods diet is, “What can I eat?” and “Can I really survive on just vegetables?” It is important to note that a healthy raw vegan diet consists of a wide variety of plant-based foods. This includes fresh vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds, grains, and fruits. These living foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based proteins. They supply the oxygen, alkalinity, and bioelectrical charges vital for cellular health, detoxifying the body, and for overall well-being.

The juicing benefits of wheatgrass, discovered by Ann Wigmore, have been popping up in many health facilities and institutes. These organizations are taking the raw foods diet a step further by incorporating wheatgrass as a central component of their living foods program, as well as using wheatgrass as a dietary supplement and healing tool.

Wheatgrass: Nature’s greatest healer

Wheatgrass is considered nature’s ”greatest healer” and is a complete food with an ideal alkaline-acid balance. Just one ounce of wheatgrass contains 103 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Wheatgrass is also a powerful detoxifier and cleanses the blood due to its high chlorophyll content (your liver; however, is you BEST detoxifier). It helps rid the body of heavy metals, pollutants, and other toxins that become stored in the body’s tissues and organs over the years. Those who are proponents will often drink daily shots of wheatgrass, taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, in addition to eating a rich raw vegan diet.

Raw foods are prepared using cold-pressed oils and are heated or dehydrated at low temperatures, if at all. You may also find them made using organic oils such as olive, hemp, and raw sesame. Instead of vinegar – lemon, limes, and herbs may also be used. As a rule, for foods to be raw, they must be “cooked” at temperatures lower than 115 degrees. Our bodies need all the enzymes available in the food we eat, and heating food above 115 degrees destroys most of the plant’s nutrients and causes the food to be unrecognizable to our bodies.

Reversing disease with a raw foods diet

A living foods diet may provide enormous health benefits for those looking to improve their general health and for those who want to prevent premature aging or help reverse certain diseases. Living foods are so beneficial because they contain four essential elements that support the immune system: Hormones, oxygen, phytochemicals, and enzymes. By nourishing your body with these immune-boosting elements, instead of toxins and chemicals, people who adopt a proper raw vegan diet often experience increased vitality, energy, and mental clarity, to name just a few benefits. A living-foods diet may also help reverse some ailments and diseases.

While the benefits of a raw foods diet are numerous, getting started can be overwhelming at first, so below are some tips for transitioning to a raw foods diet. No matter where you are on your health journey, everyone can begin with these easy steps: Follow them and your life may begin to transform.

First Tip: Find a local juice bar where you can get a big dose of veggie nutrition (or purchase a juicer for home use).

Juicing is the fastest and best way for the body to get all the essential vitamins and nutrients it needs. Within 20 minutes of drinking fresh vegetable juice, your body begins to absorb all the nutrients it just consumed, meaning you can start feeling better immediately. You may choose to sip on a gallon of green juice throughout the day or start with a shot a day (or half a shot a day) and work yourself up to four ounces each day.  One signature drink that has shown promise for its health benefits is a green juice containing five ounces each of sunflower sprouts, pea sprouts, cucumber, and celery. If you visit the local juice bar, make sure to include that shot of wheatgrass. It provides the full range of vitamins and minerals and is also a complete source of protein.

Second Tip: Stay away from freeze-dried and powered alternatives.

Some research shows that wheatgrass supplements and freeze-dried powders are only two percent as efficient as fresh-juiced wheatgrass consumed within 15 minutes of juicing. The nutrients in wheatgrass begin to oxidize or break down, very quickly after that 15-minute period.

Third Tip: Try and make at least one meal each day a big salad full of fresh vegetables.

The benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed vegetables are many. Make sure to add plenty of green vegetables to your salad, as they are the foods most commonly missing in our modern diet. Greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, as well as fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Try experimenting with greens such as bok choy, kale, mustard greens, broccoli rabé, or dandelion root.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you may also want to try adding sprouted lentils, sprouted broccoli rabé, or sprouted alfalfa to your salad. Sprouts contain a super concentration of natural enzymes that are easily digestible, making them up to 30 times more nutritious than even organic vegetables.

Take it slow

Transitioning to a raw vegan diet can be challenging; the critical thing to remember is to take it slow. Try one thing at a time and continue to build on each success.

Adapted from: Brian Clement Ph.D., NMD, CN

Nutrition Nugget

Make it a combo! Combine food groups for a satisfying snack— low-fat yogurt and berries, apple with peanut butter, whole-grain crackers with turkey and avocado.

WOD Nugget

Gesellschaft: Social relations based on impersonal ties, such as a duty to a society or organization (an example of society).

Inspiration Nugget

Common sense is a flower that doesn't grow in everyone's garden.

 

 

 

10 Nutrition Myths Dietitians Hate The Most

The pros say it’s time to stop believing these misconceptions about healthy eating and weight loss.

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When it comes to hot-button topics, proper nutrition is near the top of the list. Regularly, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN’s) hear clients continuously tell them they’re fed up with hearing conflicting nutrition information and don’t know what to believe. Dietitians are with you on this one! Everyone seems to think they are a nutrition expert these days, which results in widespread nutrition confusion. Here are the top 10 nutrition myths that dietitians cannot stand, and the truths they want you to know.

Myth #1: Superfoods are exotic and expensive.

This myth is a pet peeve for many RDN’s. While most dietitians love learning about nutrient-packed foods from around the world, they want people to know that local, everyday foods are superfoods, too, and are far less expensive! Eating a diet that’s high in processed foods but then adding in some goji berries and spirulina doesn’t mean you have a healthy diet. You’ll save money and be much more robust if you focus on eating more whole foods and “everyday superfoods” like spinach, mushrooms, squash, blueberries, oranges, apples, lentils, whole grains, and nuts. These familiar foods are packed with antioxidants and fiber and won’t blow your budget like that small bag of acai powder will.

When a new exotic superfood comes on the market and becomes super popular, keep in mind that it’s probably just a fad. There will never be one food that’s better than all the others. Remember: Variety is essential when it comes to eating well. Ask yourself if spending money on the superfood of the moment is the best way to enhance your health, or if other parts of your diet could use a tune-up.

Myth #2: Being slim means you’re healthy.

This myth is a tough one to let go of because our society is so focused on body size. Everywhere we look, society seems to tell us that being slender is more desirable. Luckily, this myth is starting to dissolve. “We really have very little control over the size and shape of our bodies, and these things don’t determine our health,” says Kaleigh McMordie, RDN, of Lively Table. Research suggests that overweight people who are active can be healthier and live longer than slimmer people who don’t exercise. We all have different body types, and it’s about time we stopped focusing on size and shifted our focus to developing healthier habits.

Dietitians want to see people choosing foods based on their nutritional benefits, not just thinking about calories. For example, having salmon on a salad is a more nutritious choice than having processed chicken breast strips loaded with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Myth #3: Vegetarians and vegans don’t get enough protein.

This one has been around for a long time, and plant-based dietitians have had enough. There is no substantial evidence that people must have meat to survive. “A well-balanced plant-based diet with a variety of plant foods is healthful and nourishing to the body,” says Jennifer Rodriguez, RDN, of Food Is Vida. “It can provide all amino acids needed when caloric needs are met for an individual.” As Amy Gorin, RDN, a dietitian in New York City, explains, “You have to plan out your meals and make sure to incorporate good sources of protein. Pulses such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dried peas are a good source of protein, offering about 8 grams per ½ cup cooked serving. I like to pair them with sautéed veggies and brown rice or even use them as a pizza topping.”

A well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some types of cancer. However, if you want to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s a great idea to meet with a dietitian to make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.

Myth #4: You should avoid all sugar—even fruit.

Sugar-free diets are all the rage right now, but there’s a difference between sugar found in whole foods such as fruit and vegetables and the refined sugar found in processed foods. Those whole foods naturally come with fiber to help slow down your body’s absorption of their natural sugars. “The 2015 Dietary Guidelines explicitly calls for limiting added sugars, the type of sweeteners found in cookies, cake, candy, and sweet beverages, to 10% of your daily calories or less,” explains Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, of Better Is The New Perfect. “That recommendation doesn’t include naturally sweet foods, which are sources of important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.”

If you want to cut back on sugar, it makes far more sense to limit added sugars instead of cutting nutrient-packed foods out of your diet. Food companies disguise added sugars under many different names so be cautious when at the grocery. (See Here are 56—yikes!—to recognize.) Clearly, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and kefir are in a different category than soda and baked goods. The latter are high in added sugars and calories and low in nutrients.

Myth #5: Soy is full of female hormones.

Are you worried that eating soy foods or soy protein will make men grow breasts or increase your cancer risk? The research on soy says these are myths. “What I want people to know is that there is a huge difference between estrogen (the hormone in your body) and phytoestrogen (the much weaker type found in soy),” stresses Nita Sharda, RDN, of Carrots & Cake. “When we review the literature, there is no significant effect on human health when soy is consumed. In fact, eating 2-3 servings of whole soy foods a day can have a protective effect.”

Ginger Hultin, dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, states, “Soy will not cause feminizing effects in men, it is safe and healthy for children to eat, and it does not cause or promote cancer. There is evidence that it is good for bone health and the cardiovascular system and it is a nutritionally dense, protein-rich food source.” It is best to choose whole soy foods like soybeans (edamame) and fermented soy such as tempeh and miso for gut health. These types of soy are the least processed and will be highest in nutrients.

Myth #6: You need to ban carbs to lose weight.

Ok, this one is my pet peeve! This nutrition myth has been around for years, and it drives myself and dietitians like Kristen Smith, RDN, founder of 360FamilyNutrition, nuts. “Don’t be afraid to eat carbohydrate-containing foods, but try to keep the portions in check,” Smith says. “One of the best options for keeping portions of carbohydrates in check is to follow the USDA’s MyPlate method: Fill 1/2 of your plate with fruits and vegetables, 1/4 with whole grains, and 1/4 with a lean protein source.” Christina Fitzgerald, RD, owner of Fitzgerald Nutrition, agrees: “When thinking about nutrition and weight, the bigger picture of overall quality and quantity of food choices is much more important. Eating more than your body needs will cause weight gain, not one nutrient alone.”

Swapping out refined grains like white bread for carbs that provide slow-burning energy, such as steel-cut oats, sweet potatoes, and quinoa is a healthy move, but banning all carbs from your diet is not necessary. At worst, it could lead to more carb cravings, and weight regains once you go off your low-carb plan.

Myth #7: The diet that works for models and celebrities will work for you.

So your favorite celebrity drank nothing but tuna water and asparagus juice and lost 15 pounds in two days. Does that mean you should try the same thing and expect to get the same results? Of course not! Thinking that celebrity diets will work for you is a myth dietitians hate. First of all, consider the source of this extreme diet information. Is it helping to sell magazines or get more page views? As The Plant-Powered Dietitian Sharon Palmer, RDN, says, “You have no idea if the purported diet is really what the celebrity consumes.”

Celebrities are usually chosen based on their good looks and slender body types, which are genetic gifts. Palmer notes, “People have tremendous genetic variability in body type and metabolism, making it very difficult for many people to achieve the magazines’ portrayal of what they consider beauty.” I like to remind myself and my clients that models and other celebrities have tons of help running their lives. That means they’re okay to spend a couple of days not functioning well thanks to a crash diet. You probably don’t have the same luxury, or a full-time doctor at your beck and call when things go wrong. Not to mention the negative impacts on your health and metabolism over time. Get your nutrition and diet advice from people who are experts, not celebrities.

Myth #8: Natural sugar isn’t sugar.

So you’re trying to cut down on added sugars, and you’ve switched out your white sugar for honey, agave, or maple syrup. You may be getting a few antioxidant benefits from the honey or maple syrup, but otherwise, your body similarly metabolizes them and other sugars. Rebecca Clyde, RDN, owner of Nourish Nutrition, has had people tell her they’re following a sugar-free diet, but they still have agave or honey. “Honey, agave, and other types of sugar are not sugar-free, and they are still processed to some degree,” she points out. “They aren’t healthier than cane sugar. Let’s stop villainizing sugar and honoring honey and other sweeteners and just count them all as equal.”

Myth #9: High-fat foods are bad for you.

Think eating fat makes you fat? Research suggests this is a myth. A lower calorie eating plan that includes healthy fats can help people lose more weight than a similar diet that’s low in fat, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity. That’s because fat helps you enjoy your food more and prevents you from going hungry. Both of these are key to losing weight and keeping it off.

“While fat definitely has more calories per gram than protein and carbs (9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram), it’s not the enemy,” assures Natalie Rizzo, RDN, a registered dietitian in New York City. “An observational study suggests that replacing 5% of your total calories from saturated fat with unsaturated fat actually decreases death rates by 27%. In other words, don’t be scared of the healthy fats found in foods like walnuts, olive oil, and avocados.” Include some healthy fats at each meal to help you feel satisfied and stay full longer. Add avocado to smoothies, wraps, oatmeal, and salads along with nuts and seeds. You can also use it in salad dressings combined with extra virgin olive oil.

Myth #10: Mixing carbs with protein and fat is bad for digestion.

The myth that mixing different types of foods is hard on our digestive system has been around for decades. Initially, it was referred to as “food combining,” and it’s now experiencing a resurgence as “the Dissociated Diet.” The idea is that you need to eat protein-rich foods such as eggs at one meal and carbohydrate-rich foods such as toast at another meal, but never together. “This myth makes no scientific sense because once food reaches your stomach, your stomach acid begins breaking down all types of food.,” says Lindsey Pine, RDN, owner of TastyBalance Nutrition. “In fact, it’s beneficial to mix carbs, protein, and fat in the same meal or snack because you’ll get a wide range of nutrients, avoid insulin spikes, and the protein and fat will help with satiety.” Could you imagine never having berries with your yogurt or cheese with crackers ever again? Your digestive system is designed to handle a variety of foods.

Eat what you enjoy and what makes you feel good. Do not base your eating regimen on the latest fad diet!

Adapted from: 

Nutritional Nugget

Create a work of art! Add color to salads with baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or green beans. Include seasonal veggies for variety throughout the year.

WOD Nugget

Patria: One’s native country or homeland

Inspirational Nugget

When thinking about life, remember this: No amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

 

 

Eye-catching labels stigmatize many healthy foods

When customers walk down aisles of grocery stores, they are inundated with labels such as organic, fair-trade and cage-free, just to name a few. Labels such as these may be eye-catching but are often free of any scientific basis and stigmatize conventionally produced foods, a new University of Delaware led study found.

Image result for Eye-catching labels stigmatize many healthy foods

The paper published recently in the journal Applied Economics Perspectives and Policy examined the good, the bad and the ugly of food labeling to see how labels identifying the process in which food was produced positively and negatively influenced consumer behavior. By reviewing over 90 academic studies on consumer response to process labels, the researchers found that while these labels satisfy consumer demand for quality assurances and can create value for both consumers and producers, misinterpretation is common and can stigmatize food produced by conventional processes even when there is no scientific evidence those foods cause harm. For the poor, in particular, there is danger in misunderstanding which food items are safe, said Kent Messer, the study’s lead author and the Unidel Howard Cosgrove Career Development Chair for the Environment. “That has me worried about the poor and those who are food insecure,” said Messer, who is also director of the Center for Experimental and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Because now you’re trying to make everything a high-end food choice and frankly, we just want to have healthy food choices, we don’t need to have extra labels that scare away people,”

Process labels, by definition, focus on the production of food, but largely ignore important outcomes of the process such as taste or healthiness. According to Messer and his study co-authors, policy changes could help consumers better understand their choices. They argue governments should not impose bans on process labels but rather encourage labels that help document how the processes affect important quality traits, such as calorie count. “Relying on process labels alone, on the other hand, is a laissez-faire approach that inevitably surrenders the educational component of labeling to mass media, the colorful array of opinion providers, and even food retailers, who may not always be honest brokers of information,” the researchers wrote.

The Good

With regards to the positive impact process labels have on consumers, Messer said that consumers are able to more freely align their purchasing decisions with their values and preferences. If, for example, a consumer wants to buy fair trade coffee, they are able to do so with greater ease. “The good part is that process labels can help bridge the trust between the producer and the consumer because it gives the consumer more insight into the market,” said Messer. “New products can be introduced this way, niche markets can be created, and consumers, in many cases, are willing to pay more for these products. It’s good for the industry, consumers are getting what they want, and new players get to find ways of getting a higher price.”

The Bad

The sad part is that consumers are already in the midst of a marketplace filled with information that can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of product choices and information available. Also, when most consumers go to buy food, they are often crunched for time. “Human choice tends to be worse when you put time constraints on it,” said Messer. “Maybe you’ve got a child in the aisle with you, and now you’re adding this new label, and there’s lots of misinterpretation of what it means. The natural label is a classic one which means very little, yet consumers assume it means more than it does. They think it means ‘No GMO,’ but it doesn’t. They think it means it is ‘organic,’ but it isn’t. This label is not helping them align their values with their food, and they’re paying a price premium but not getting what they wanted to buy.”

Messer said that another problem is “halo effects,” overly optimistic misinterpretation of what a label means. “If you show consumers a chocolate bar that is labeled as ‘fair trade,’ some will tell you that it has lower calories,” Messer said. “But the label is not about calories. Consumers do this frequently with the ‘organic’ label as they think it is healthy for the consumer. Organic practices may be healthier for the farm workers or the environment, but for the actual consumer, there’s very little evidence behind that. You’re getting lots of mixed, wrong messages out there.”

The Ugly

Like halo effects, the ugly side of food processing labels come into play when labels sound like they have a positive impact but really have a negative one. A label such as “low food miles” might sound nice but could actually be causing more harm than good. “Sometimes, where food is grown doesn’t mean that it’s actually the best for climate change,” said Messer. Hothouse tomatoes grown in Canada, for example, might have low food miles for Canadian consumers but it’s probably far better environmentally, because of all the energy expended in creating tomatoes in an energy-intensive hothouse in Canada, to grow the tomatoes in Florida and then ship them to Canada.

“If you just count miles and not true energy use, you can get people paying more money for something that’s actually going the opposite of what they wanted which is to get a lower carbon footprint,” said Messer. He added that the ugly side of food labeling is that a lot of fear is being introduced into the marketplace that isn’t based on science. “When you start labeling everything as ‘free of this’ such as ‘gluten-free water,’ you can end up listing stuff that could never have been present in the food in the first place,” Messer said. “These ‘free of’ labels can cause unnecessary fear and cast the conventionally produced food in a harsh, negative light.”

Since the vast majority of the food market is still conventionally produced and is the lower cost product, there is a danger in taking that safe food and calling it unsafe because of a few new entrants into the food market. Messer also said that there is evidence that food companies are getting worried about investing in science and technology because they don’t know how the consumer is going to respond or how marketers are going to attack their food product because it’s new and different and therefore, can be labeled as harmful or dangerous. “We’ve got a lot of mouths to feed in our country and around the world,” Messer said. “We are currently able to feed so many because of advances in agricultural science and technology. If we’re afraid of that now, we have a long-term impact on the poor that could be quite negative in our country and around the world. That’s when I start thinking these process labels could really be ugly.”

Adapted by: Kent D. Messer, Marco Costanigro, Harry M. Kaiser. Labeling Food Processes: The Good, the Bad and the UglyApplied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 2017; 39 (3): 407 DOI: 10.1093/aepp/ppx028

Nutrition Nugget

Don’t Drink Sugar Calories! Sugary drinks are the most fattening things you can put into your body. This is because liquid sugar calories are not registered by the brain in the same way as calories from solid foods. For this reason, when you drink soda, you end up intaking more total calories. Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and all sorts of health problems. Keep in mind that fruit juices are almost as bad as soda in this regard. They contain just as much sugar, and the small amounts of antioxidants do NOT negate the harmful effects of the sugar.

W.O.D. Nugget

Dolce: (especially as a direction) sweetly and softly.

Inspiration Nugget

God will help you overcome wrong motives and intentions if you'll simply ask and receive help rather than trying to do it on your own.

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