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Category Archives: Nutrition

Try Chia Seeds for Big Nutrition in a Small Package

By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

If you’re seeking an easy way to add protein, fiber, healthy fat, and minerals to your diet, look no further than the humble chia seed. The nutritional numbers support their reputation as a healthful addition to the diet. One ounce of chia seeds—about three tablespoons—contains 140 calories, plus:

11 grams of fiber
180 mg of calcium
4 grams of protein
9 grams of fat

With this much fiber and calcium, chia seeds provide more than a third of your daily fiber needs and nearly 20% of your daily calcium needs in a single serving. The 4 grams of hunger-quashing protein add to chia’s nutritional offerings.
Fat is where it’s at

Our bodies do not make omega-3 fats, so we must get them from food. And having more omega-3s in the diet is linked with good health, and with lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. This is where chia seeds come into the picture: more than half of the fat in chia seeds is alpha-linolenic acid, a beneficial, omega-3 fat.
Chewing (or sipping) on chia

You’ll find chia seeds in the bulk section of your natural grocery store, and in the health food section of your regular supermarket. If you’re ready to give chia seeds a try, there’s no shortage of creative ways to work them into your diet. Chia seeds are tasteless, and slip into other foods and beverages easily without altering flavor.

Get soaked. Place a large spoonful of chia seeds into a small glass and cover with water. Let stand for 20 minutes; they will form a gel. Add the chia seed-gel mixture to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal. It’s okay to soak seeds over night, so they will be ready for breakfast.
Drink up. Toss a spoonful of chia seeds into your water bottle or add them to juice. You won’t taste them and they are so tiny you may not even notice them in the liquid.
Cook. Add chia seeds to soups, stews, and casseroles, as a thickener.
Bake. Process chia seeds in a coffee bean grinder and mix with flour, milk, eggs, mashed banana, and cinnamon to make pancakes. Add chia seeds to the batter or dough when making muffins, bread, or other baked goods.
Surf for ideas. Perform a quick internet search of “chia seed recipes.” You will find hundreds of additional ideas, tips, recipes, and hints for incorporating chia seeds into your food and drinks.
Call your doctor. If you have digestive health issues, such as diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease, do not add chia seeds without first talking to your healthcare provider. While these tiny seeds improve digestive health for many, they may not be right for people with existing digestive conditions.

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

Copyright © 2012 Aisle7. All rights reserved. http://www.Aisle7.net

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Chia, Chia Seeds, Diet, Fiber, Nutrition, Omega-3, Protein

 

Soy: One Option for Menopause

CDC edamame

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By Jane Hart, MD

Despite a lack of conclusive research, many women try soy because they have heard that its plant-based estrogen-like compounds (isoflavones) may ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and irritability. Now a study published in Maturitas affirms the benefits of soy and reveals that postmenopausal women who add soy to their diet may experience similar relief from symptoms as women who took hormone replacement therapy. Soy soothes symptoms caused by “the change” In the past, some women have relied on hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms, but since the news about the increased risk of breast cancer associated with long-term hormone therapy use, women and clinicians have searched for alternative options for relief.

In this study, 60 healthy women (40 to 60 years old) were randomly assigned to receive dietary soy supplementation (90 mg of isoflavones), hormone therapy (1 mg estradiol and 0.5 mg norethestirone acetate), or placebo daily for 16 weeks. Participants were surveyed about their symptoms before and after treatment. Results showed that women in all the treatment groups experienced relief from hot flashes, muscle pain, and psychological symptoms such as irritability and fatigue. But compared with the placebo group, relief from hot flashes, muscle pain and urogenital symptoms was greater in the hormone therapy and dietary soy group. “Many women consider the risk associated with hormone therapy to be unacceptable and request nonhormonal alternatives for the management of their…symptoms,” said Lucio O. Carmignani and his colleagues from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, State University of Campinas, Brazil. The authors state that soy may be one helpful option that women and clinicians consider, and they recommend that treatment be based on each person’s specific symptoms and level of distress.

Should you use soy?

• It’s nutrient-rich. Soy is an excellent source of protein, which is important for people who are vegetarians or vegans as they rely on plant rather than animal sources of protein. Soy foods are also full of other key nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.

• It has a wide range of healthful effects. Regularly eating soy may support bone health, heart health, and cancer prevention, among other healthy effects. Recent research suggests that men who regularly eat soy may reduce their risk of prostate cancer. Further research is needed about the full range of health benefits from soy and the optimal amount to eat.

• It’s not for everybody. Soy may not be appropriate for certain people, so check with your doctor before taking soy supplements.

 

(Maturitas 2010;67:262–9.) Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker. Copyright © 2011 Aisle7. All rights reserved. http://www.Aisle7.net

 

More Mediterranean Diet Benefits

More Mediterranean Diet Benefits: Main Image
By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD
Stomach cancer survival rates are relatively low, making pinpointing risk factors an important research goal. Among the things research has discovered that a person can do to lower his or her stomach cancer risk: enjoy the tasty and healthful Mediterranean style of eating.

More Mediterranean, less risk

The findings come out of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) study, a long-term research effort focused on determining how nutrition and lifestyle factors affect risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Researchers collected diet information from 485,044 men and women aged 35 to 70 years, from ten European countries. They developed an 18-point scale to track how closely people were following a Mediterranean diet. (A higher score represented a “more Mediterranean” diet.)

After 9 years of follow-up:

• Compared to those not following a Mediterranean diet, people most closely following a Mediterranean diet had 33% lower risk of stomach cancer.

• Each 1-unit increase on the 18-point Mediterranean diet scale resulted in a 5% decreased risk of stomach cancer.

• Overall, sticking closely to a Mediterranean diet significantly reduced the risk of stomach cancer.

Enjoying Mediterranean fare

In addition to being tasty, the great thing about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s so good for you for many reasons. The Mediterranean diet is also linked to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, other cancers, and dementia. If you want to go Mediterranean:

• Focus on fresh vegetables and fruit, important staples in this style of eating.

• Aim to have two-thirds to three-quarters of your plate covered by vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans.

• Enjoy fish one to two times per week. Opt for wild-caught, seasonal fish when you can.

• Keep red meat to 3-ounce portions or less, a few times per week or less.

• Eat the right fats. Olive oil is used almost exclusively in the traditional Mediterranean diet. Also try avocados, a rich source of healthy, monounsaturated fats.

• Snack on nuts and seeds. Try walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and flaxseeds.

• Include fermented dairy, such as yogurt and kefir.

• Go whole…grains that is. Keep refined grains, such as those found in regular pasta, to small portions.

More stomach-protecting tips

In addition to enjoying Mediterranean food, reduce your stomach cancer risk by:

• Avoiding all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes

• Using alcohol in moderation or not at all: no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women; one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of hard alcohol

• Not ignoring heartburn: It can signal the presence of H. pylori, a bacteria linked to increased stomach cancer risk, so alert your doctor

• Limiting salty, cured, and smoked foods, all of which increase stomach cancer risk

(Am J Clin Nutr 2010; 91:381–90; American Cancer Society. How is Stomach Cancer Staged? Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_3X_How_is_stomach_cancer_staged_40.asp)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.
 

Food as Medicine: The Pros & Cons

By Alan R. Gaby, MD
Everyone knows it: Eating well is almost universally the first-line defense for both managing and treating many diseases. But not everyone realizes that food’s “medicinal” properties can also influence medicines in the body—enough that people should consider what they eat and drink while taking medication.

Delicious, nutritious…and therapeutic

Some foods are packed with disease-fighting nutrients that have been shown to help with particular conditions. For example:

• Grapefruit is a rich source of vitamin C and flavonoids, and may even help lower high cholesterol levels.

• Pomegranate has been shown to slow atherosclerosis progression.

• Dark-green leafy vegetables are loaded with lutein (for healthy eyes), magnesium (for a strong heart and reducing negative effects of stress), and fiber (for healthy digestion).

While these tasty, wholesome foods have these proven benefits and more, each is also known to interact with certain prescription medications—some with potentially serious consequences.

What we eat affects body chemistry

Eating to support health makes food a kind of medicine—and viewing it as that is a helpful reminder that what we eat creates chemical reactions in the body. So adding more chemical reactions—such as supplements and drugs—to the mix should be done with some consideration. The types of interactions that food may have with medicines include:

Beneficial: Replenishes depleted nutrients: Eating more of a nutrient-rich food may help replenish nutrients when a medication obstructs or depletes it from the body.

Beneficial: Side effect prevention: Eating more of a nutrient-rich food may help prevent or reduce the likelihood or severity of a potential side effect caused by a medication. Taking certain medications on an empty stomach can sometimes cause side effects such as nausea, solved by taking the medication with a meal.

Beneficial: Positive interaction: Some medications are more easily absorbed when taken with food, improving their action in the body. Some, for example, are fat-soluble, and could be affected by the amount of fat in the diet.

Adverse: Reduces drug effectiveness: When taking a medication, a food, nutrient, or other substance should be avoided as it may increase or decrease the medication’s absorption and/or activity in the body. Sometimes just having too much food in the stomach can block a medicine’s action, which can be avoided by taking it on an empty stomach.

Adverse: Negative interaction: When taking certain medications, a food, nutrient, or other substance should be avoided, as the combination may cause undesirable or dangerous interactions. It is generally recommended to avoid foods that have been shown to interact with a medicine.

Spotlight on some highly interactive foods

Drug interactions are not often studied, and animal and test tube studies, which don’t always translate to clinical effects, are often the primary sources of information. But following research over time has revealed some foods that should be avoided or taken with care when under medical treatment:

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice: By inhibiting an intestinal enzyme that helps metabolize many different drugs, grapefruit allows more of certain drugs to be absorbed, potentially increasing the medication’s effectiveness and the toxicity, even if the grapefruit is consumed at a different time than the drug. A few of the long list of interacting drugs include amlodipine, atorvastatin (Lipitor), cyclosporine, diltiazem, felodipine, lovastatin, methylprednisolone, nifedipine, sildenafil, simvastatin (Zocor), and verapamil.

Pomegranate and pomegranate juice: This fruit inhibits the same enzyme blocked by grapefruit. While there is much less research on drug-pomegranate interactions than on drug-grapefruit interactions, it would be reasonable to assume that the same interactions that occur with grapefruit would also occur with pomegranate.

Dark-green vegetables: These are rich sources of vitamin K, which interferes with the blood-thinner, warfarin. A person taking warfarin does not have to avoid vitamin K–containing foods. However, with the aid of a doctor or a dietitian the average vitamin K intake should be kept relatively constant from week to week.

The key to health is conscientious consumption

While the strength of research varies, there is enough data to suggest a number of other interactions between foods and drugs, such as:

• Alcohol, which should not be mixed with certain medications

• High-calcium foods which can block the absorption of some drugs

• Black tea, some spices, beer, and nutrients such as resveratrol (found in red wine, nuts, and dark chocolate) have been found to have various interactions with medications.

To get the benefits of both a healthful diet and prescription medications, without exposing yourself to potentially harmful interactions, look for credible science-based information and talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

An expert in nutritional therapies, Chief Medical Editor Alan R. Gaby, MD, is a former professor at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, where he served as the Endowed Professor of Nutrition. He is past-president of the American Holistic Medical Association and gave expert testimony to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine on the cost-effectiveness of nutritional supplements. Dr. Gaby has conducted nutritional seminars for physicians and has collected over 30,000 scientific papers related to the field of nutritional and natural medicine. In addition to editing and contributing to The Natural Pharmacy (Three Rivers Press, 1999), and the A–Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Dr. Gaby has authored Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Prima Lifestyles, 1995) and B6: The Natural Healer (Keats, 1987) and coauthored The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing (Prima, 1999).
 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Diet, Food, Medicine, Nutrition