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

 

 

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.

 

 

A daily serving of 5 prunes helps slow bone loss and lowers the risk of osteoporosis

Approximately 1.4 million Canadians and 10 million Americans are living with osteoporosis,  a condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Now, scientific research has found that just eating a serving of five prunes a day may help slow and prevent bone loss.

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Research published in the journal Osteoporosis International studied postmenopausal women with low bone density, who ate 5 to 6 prunes (50g) per day, for a six-month period. The research suggests that this level of consumption was as effective in preventing bone loss as a previous study where postmenopausal women consumed 10 to 12 prunes (100g) per day for one year. “This research is extremely compelling since women can lose 1 to 1.5 percent of their bone density annually following menopause,” says Dr. Shirin Hooshmand, Ph.D. and lead researcher, of the study, at the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University. In April 2017, a comprehensive review of 24 studies on prunes and bone health published in Nutrients. The author found that prunes enhanced bone formation and exerted beneficial effects on bone mineral density.

Prunes are rich in nutrients that are vital for bone health including vitamin K and potassium. Naturally sweet and delicious, a serving of about five prunes is only 100 calories and is a source of dietary fiber. “Healthy bones are vital to overall wellbeing,” says Cara Rosenbloom, RD. “It’s excellent news that prunes, a flavorful dried fruit, and a convenient snack may be helpful for bone health.”

The evidence continues to grow and support the fact that incorporating prunes as a regular part of a nutritious diet seems to offer long-term bone health benefits, particularly in postmenopausal women. A more extensive clinical trial is currently underway, to further explore prunes’ effect on bone density and estimated bone strength in postmenopausal women. Research continues to discover the potential mechanism and compounds in prunes that support healthy bones. In addition to supporting healthy bones, prunes also help promote heart and digestive health. Prunes have a low glycemic index, which along with fiber, helps manage blood sugar levels.

Nutrition Nugget

Stop Eating 2 Hours Before Bedtime! Eating fuels our body to be used as energy, which we don’t need right before going to sleep. While you’re sleeping, your body uses a natural sleeping metabolism to help you burn fat. Plus, not eating two hours before bed will help you cut out unnecessary calories!

WOD Nugget

Platitudinous: (of a remark or statement) used too often to be interesting or thoughtful; overused

Inspirational Nugget

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Gut bacteria from wild mice boost health in lab mice

Laboratory mice that are given the gut bacteria of wild mice can survive a deadly flu virus infection and fight colorectal cancer dramatically better than laboratory mice with their own gut bacteria; researchers report (October 19, 2017) in the journal Cell.

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The immunological benefits from the wild mice’s gut bacteria may, in part, explain a persistent problem in disease research: Why disease experiments in lab mice, such as vaccine studies, turn out very differently in humans or other animals. “We think that by restoring the natural ‘microbial identity’ of laboratory mice, we will improve the modeling of complex diseases of free-living mammals, which includes humans and their diseases,” said Barbara Rehermann, M.D., senior author of the paper. Rehermann is chief of the Immunology Section, Liver Diseases Branch, of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “By being so different, natural microbiota will help us to discover protective mechanisms that are relevant in the natural world and absent in the laboratory,” said Stephan Rosshart, M.D., first author of the paper and NIDDK postdoctoral fellow.

Mammals, humans included, depend on their microbiota, the collection of microorganisms they host in and on their bodies. Evolution shapes each animal’s microbiota, favoring populations of organisms that help the animal survive their environment and diseases they encounter. However, laboratory mice are not random house mice plucked from a field or basement. Laboratory mice are carefully bred, fed, and raised in tightly controlled conditions so that each mouse has predictable traits and genetics. This is an excellent advantage in basic biology research, but creating that predictability means that a controlled environment, and not the survival pressures of the outside world, shaped the microbiotas of laboratory mice.

“We hypothesized that this might explain why laboratory mice, while paramount for understanding basic biological phenomena are limited in their predictive utility for modeling complex diseases of humans and other free-living mammals,” said Rosshart. Therefore, the researchers tried to give laboratory mice back what they have lost: A naturally co-evolved wild mouse gut microbiota. The researchers trapped more than 800 wild mice from eight locations across Maryland and the District of Columbia to find healthy, suitable candidates for a gut microbiota donation. They then tested and compared the gut microbiomes (collective genomes of the gut microbiota) of the wild mice (Mus musculus domesticus) and a standard strain of laboratory mice, called C57BL/6, from multiple sources. The researchers confirmed that C57BL/6 mice had distinct gut microbiomes from wild mice.

Researchers then introduced (engrafted) the microbiota of wild mice to pregnant, germ-free C57BL/6 mice. Germ-free mice are raised in a sterile environment and don’t have microbiomes of their own. For a control group comparison, the researchers also engrafted microbiota from regular C57BL/6 mice into a separate group of pregnant, germ-free mice. Four generations later, the mice still carried either the wild microbiomes or the control laboratory microbiomes passed down from their foremothers.

When exposed to a high dose of influenza virus, 92 percent of the laboratory mice with wild microbiomes survived, whereas only 17 percent of laboratory mice and mice in the control group survived. In other experiments, the laboratory mice with wild microbiomes had better outcomes in the face of induced colorectal tumors, whereas the other mice had a higher number of tumors and more severe disease. The beneficial effects of the wild microbiota were associated with reduced inflammation in both models.

The researchers note that more work and evaluation is needed for definitive results, and they hope to improve and expand upon the method of using natural microbiomes in laboratory mice. “We are planning to create a complete microbiological fingerprint of natural microbiota and its potential trans-kingdom interaction by describing all components of the microbiome — for example, viruses and fungi — in parallel and at various body sites,” Rehermann said.

So, it’s ok not to be a germaphobe and let the little critters run free, every now and then!

Adapted from: Rosshart et al. Wild Mouse Gut Microbiota Promotes Host Fitness and Improves Disease ResistanceCell, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.09.016

Nutrition Nugget

Use A Vegetable Substitute! Love spaghetti? Try spaghetti squash. Sure it’s not pasta but just try it, you may like it! Love mashed potatoes? Try mashed cauliflower (OMG it’s heavenly! You will never go back to potatoes). Mix in some Greek yogurt to give it a thick, creamy texture like regular mashed potatoes. While vegetables most likely won’t be the carbs you know and love, they’re a good way to make your favorite meals healthier!

Inspirational Nugget

Even when things seem hopeless, life has a way of defying the odds, overcoming the obstacles and coming back strong. So never give up, regardless of how hopeless things may seem. There is ALWAYS a way.

 

 

The 8 Most Nutritious Nightshade Fruits and Vegetables

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What are nightshade fruits and veggies?

Nightshade fruits and vegetables are a broad group of plants from the Solanum and capsicum families. Nightshade plants contain poisons, one called solanine. While ingesting nightshade plants can be fatal, fruits and vegetables in this same classification of plant, many of which you’ll find at your local grocery store, are actually safe to eat. This is because the amount of this toxic compound is lowered to nontoxic levels once the fruits and vegetables ripen. Still, the leaves and berries of the deadly nightshade plant are poisonous and shouldn’t be consumed. So, which nightshades are the most nutritious?

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a staple of many diets for numerous reasons. In addition to how easy they are to grow, they’re also packed with nutrition. This fruit is high in vitamins A and C and is also a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin B-6, manganese, and dietary fiber.

According to Penn State University’s Extension program, current research suggests that tomatoes contain carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that protect the body from certain types of cancers. Lycopene, the most common carotenoid found in tomatoes, may help reduce the risk for pancreatic, prostate, and digestive cancers.

Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most abundantly grown foods used in the Western world. They’re also part of the perennial nightshade family that can be mildly poisonous when eaten before they’re ripe, while the skin is still green. Potatoes are excellent sources of vitamin C, which helps aid immunity. They also contain enough potassium, vitamin B-6, and fiber to make a healthier staple than you may realize. Moreover, they provide carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, all forms of phytonutrients known to promote health benefits, according to the USDA.

There are also many different types of varieties, which have various health benefits. Potatoes are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E, along with iron and zinc. They provide an easy way to get necessary, critical amounts of nutrients for people living in developing worlds. Potatoes aren’t as healthy when they’re prepared with high amounts of fats, salts, and oils, like french fries.

Bell peppers

If you need a boost of vitamin C, bell peppers are an excellent choice. One green pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange (who knew?). Bell peppers are one of the tastiest snacks in the nightshade family. You can slice them up and dip them in hummus, add them to a stir-fry, or ????? (You fill in the question marks).

Hot peppers

Hot peppers may be nightshades, but like the sun they can bring some heat, and if your tongue can endure the burn, these fiery devils contain proper nutrients. Common hot peppers, such as jalapenos, serrano peppers, and red or green chilies, are excellent sources of vitamins C and A as well as potassium. Capsaicin, what helps give spicy peppers their kick, has been shown to decrease inflammation, which can help people with joint disorders walk with less pain.

Eggplant

Eggplant is an excellent source of manganese, a mineral essential for both development and metabolism. Additionally, according to researchers, eggplant contains natural antioxidants that can help protect your skin from the oxidative stress of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Because of their meaty texture when cooked, they’re famous for vegetarians, think eggplant parmesan, as well as with vegans.

Tomatillos

The tomatillo is a nightshade that grows in a husk and is similar to a tomato. Common in Central and South America, it’s a staple of Mexican green sauces and can be boiled, fried, or steamed. While not as nutritiously plentiful as your garden-variety red tomato, they contain antioxidants and can help you sneak some extra fiber into your diet without adding in too many extra calories.

Goji berries

To find fresh goji berries, you’ll have to visit a Chinese plantation. However, they’re also typically found at specialty food stores in dried form, sometimes labeled as wolfberries. Goji berries contain protein and many healthy amino acids such as tyramine. They’re high in antioxidants, which help immune function and cell health. If you’re trying them for the first time, know that it’s possible to be allergic to them. You’ll want to stop eating them should you develop a rash or become ill.

Blueberries

Blueberries contain solanine alkaloid like nightshade plants, though they aren’t technically a nightshade plant. Blueberries are often touted as a superfood because many believe they contain cancer-preventing ingredients. They’re high in antioxidants, which are known to reduce inflammation. With that in mind, blueberries are thought to prevent inflammatory diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease.

According to researchers at the Gerontological Society of America, evidence from recent studies show that blueberries contain flavonoids, specifically one called anthocyanin, that’s directly associated with cognitive benefits. A cup of blueberries provides a quarter of your daily vitamin C needs, as well as supplying some dietary fiber. The fiber, when combined with probiotics in yogurt, can keep your gastrointestinal tract in good working order.

Adapted by: Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

Nutrition Nugget

Drink Plenty Of Water! Yes, you’ve heard that several times but are you taking the advice? Not only will water keep you hydrated but it will help you boost your metabolism. Drinking plenty of water improves your liver and kidney function, too!

Inspiration Nugget

It's better to be slapped by the truth than kissed with a lie. - Russian proverb

 

 

GP referral to Weight Watchers avoided type 2 diabetes in third of patients (UK)

More than a third of patients at risk of developing type 2 diabetes who reside in the UK avoided developing the condition after they were referred by their family doctor (GP) to a diabetes prevention program delivered by the commercial weight management provider, Weight Watchers, finds research published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

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The initiative also helped more than half of those referred either to reduce their risk of developing diabetes or to get their blood sugar levels back to normal. The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the UK has increased from 1.4 to 2.9 million since 1996. An even more substantial increase can be seen in the United States (U.S.) with a rise from 7.6 to 23.4 million. A new diagnosis is made every 2 minutes, and by 2025, an estimated 5 million people in the UK and 53 million in the U.S. will have the condition. Horrifying statistics! Risk of developing type 2 diabetes is strongly influenced by lifestyle factors but can be significantly reduced by weight loss, achieved by eating less and exercising more.

The UK’s national health and social care guidance organization, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that certain commercial weight management providers, such as Weight Watchers, can help obese people shed pounds. A U.S. study showed that participation in a commercial weight management program succeeded in reversing progression to type 2 diabetes. However, the effectiveness of this approach in UK primary care has not been thoroughly evaluated. Therefore, the researchers identified 166 patients from 14 general practice surgeries at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes: Those with impaired glucose regulation known as pre-diabetes or non-diabetic hyperglycemia and with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 kg/m2.

These patients were then invited to contact Weight Watchers to book a place on their diabetes prevention program, which included a 90-minute induction session followed by 48 weekly group meetings. From among the 166 primary care referrals, 149 patients were eligible. Some 117 attended the induction, and 115 started the weekly sessions, representing a take-up rate of 70%, which is high for a lifestyle intervention, according to the researchers. The program focused on improving diet quality, reducing portion size, increasing physical activity levels, as well as boosting confidence in the ability to change and a commitment to the process.

Blood tests were repeated at 6 and 12 months to check risk factors, and any changes in weight were recorded by trained Weight Watcher staff. Analysis of the results showed that the initiative led to an average fall in HbA1c (a measure of average blood glucose levels over several weeks) of 2.84 mmol/mol after 12 months to levels regarded as standard. Blood glucose levels also returned to normal in more than a third (38%) of the patients and only 3% developed type 2 diabetes after 12 months. The average weight loss amounted to 10 kg (22lb) at the 12 month time point (a reduction in BMI of 3.2kg/m2).

The researchers acknowledge that not all patients at high risk go on to develop type 2 diabetes, added to which the referral numbers were low, based on the funding available, with few black or minority ethnic participants, men, or those on low incomes. Nevertheless, they conclude that the initiative has the potential to have considerable impact. “A UK primary care referral route partnered with this commercial weight management provider can deliver an effective diabetes prevention programme,” they write. “The lifestyle changes and weight loss achieved in the intervention translated into considerable reductions in diabetes risk, with an immediate and significant public health impact.”

Adapted from: Carolyn Piper, Agnes Marossy, Zoe Griffiths, Amanda Adegboye. Evaluation of a type 2 diabetes prevention program using a commercial weight management provider for non-diabetic hyperglycemic patients referred by primary care in the UKBMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 2017; 5 (1): e000418 DOI: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000418

*If you are looking to knock $30.00 off of your next wine purchase, check out Bright Cellars! You can also find the link posted on the right side of the blog. Happy sippen! 

Daily Nutrition Nugget

Add Protein To Your Breakfast! A protein-packed breakfast will reduce hunger later in the day. This doesn’t mean load up on three kinds of breakfast meats, instead add a hard-boiled egg or some Greek yogurt to your first meal of the day. Try a cup of plain Greek yogurt with some sliced almonds, mixed berries, honey and chia seeds mixed together.

Daily Inspiration Nugget 

People change for two main reasons: either their minds have been opened, or their hearts have been broken.