Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Hold the Cream: 5 Vegan Substitutes That Are Just as Good

May 14, 2013   By Leta Shy, POPSUGAR

Heavy cream can elevate many dishes, but its high saturated fat and calorie content doesn’t exactly make it the healthiest option. And if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, your meals may be lacking that distinct texture from the dairy product. Stop pining and get the creaminess back with these five vegan substitutes!

Avocado. The creamy high-fat content of avocados make them a perfect substitute for milk and cream. Use avocado in baking or as a base for creamy sauces; one of our favorite ways is this vegan creamy avocado pasta from Oh She Glows.

Beans. Pureed beans can offer the consistency you’re missing in those comforting creamy soups. Use canned cannellini beans; not only are the white beans the right hue when substituting for heavy cream, but their mild taste also won’t overpower other flavors in your dish.


Bananas. Who needs ice cream when you’ve got frozen bananas? Keep a few ripe ones in your freezer (peel them and put in a container before you do for easier handling once they’re frozen). Before creamy cravings strike, toss one or two in a food processor or blender with a little peanut butter and freeze for two hours. You’ll have a 150-calorie vegan ice cream treat to enjoy after dinner.

Coconut milk. It’s a convenient and obvious option for many dishes, but watch out for the fat content — like regular cream, coconut milk is high in saturated fat and calories as well. But if you just have to have that creamy taste, this vegan options works as an occasional indulgence. We love to use chilled and whipped coconut cream (from a can of full-fat coconut milk) in desserts like this strawberry coconut cream parfait.

Root vegetables. Like beans, adding pureed root veggies like sweet potatoes or celeriac to sauces and savory dishes adds a thick consistency that is similar to cream. You can try cooked and pureed root veggies in dishes like this delicious-looking vegan mac and cheese, which uses cannellini beans, sweet potato, and nutritional yeast to make a creamy thick sauce that rivals the Kraft version.


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Fighting Cancer, A Forkful At A Time

By The Gazette (Montreal)     October 17, 2007

Richard Béliveau is a Montreal biochemist and cancer researcher, not a chef. So even though more than 20 of the 160 recipes in Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer are his, he wasn’t keen on demonstrating any of them – not the Cuban black bean soup or the Bengal beef, not even the dead-easy shepherd’s pie with lentils.

They’re all dishes he eats and enjoys though, along with other foods influenced by cuisines from around the world. The point of the recipes, Béliveau said the other day over green tea in his water’s edge condo, is to guide people and help them realize that it can be pleasant to incorporate into their diets foods intended to make them healthier. “Nothing will change if it doesn’t give you pleasure,” he said.

The animated scientist did permit a peek into his fridge, though, and the contents included several foods he writes about: a giant head of cabbage; a tub of seaweed salad; a dozen or more varieties of green tea in labelled plastic bags, mushrooms; yogourt; a few bottles of acai berry juice, a berry with origins in the Amazon rain forest. All are believed to play a role in thwarting the development of different kinds of cancer.

Béliveau, who holds the chair in cancer prevention and treatment at the Université du Québec à Montréal and heads the molecular medicine laboratory at Ste. Justine Hospital, is better known to Quebecers than many research scientists. For two years, he has written a weekly column for the Journal de Montréal; his first book, Foods that Fight Cancer, written, like this one, with colleague and fellow scientist Denis Gingras, has been translated into 18 languages from the original French.

He does a good deal of public speaking, addressing high school students, as he did on Monday, as well as crowds ranging from lawyers to metal workers, encouraging them to take responsibility for their health – and to choose healthful diets.

Béliveau, 54, worries that “we have lost respect for the food we eat – and for our bodies. We take more care in choosing the gas for our cars than the food for our bodies,” he said when we spoke.

About one-third of cancers are believed to be linked to poor diet, according to international organizations of experts cited by the authors. Poor diet, in this case, generally means a lack of fruits and vegetables.

The authors say that there are more than 200 epidemiological studies to show that people who eat abundant amounts of foods of plant origin – that means fruits and vegetables but also cereals, spices and green tea – are at considerably lower risk of developing cancer than do people who eat these foods only occasionally.

The phytochemical properties of these foods block many of the processes pre-cancerous cells use to grow, the authors explain, essentially creating an environment hostile to the growth of cancerous cells.

“It’s not magical or mystical: It’s biochemical,” Béliveau said. “We are what we eat. And when we eat healthy foods, we feel better.”

“When you are eating plant products, you are treating yourself to a daily doses of chemoprevention,” he said – a kind of non-toxic chemotherapy. More than 60 per cent of the drugs used in clinical chemotherapy to treat cancer are plant-derived, Béliveau said.

Clearly, though, diet is not the only factor at work in the development of cancer. It is known that populations with a higher intake of animal fat and protein have a higher incidence of colon cancer, but there are also vegetarians who get colon cancer.

Clinically detectable cancer, the authors say, does not appear overnight. Rather, “it is the result of a long process during which cells undergo a series of transformations,” as bit by bit, they become capable of “sidestepping our defence systems and invading their host tissues.”

Like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, cancer is related to lifestyle, said Béliveau. Just as smoking is associated with most lung cancer, for instance, obesity is a risk factor for the development of certain kinds of cancer, he said. “Cancer has a lot to do with lifestyle, much more than we used to think,” said Béliveau. “The message of the book is self-responsibility.”

A healthy lifestyle, which means eating right, exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking, can help create a hostile environment for tumours.

The recipes, most of which come from top Quebec restaurant chefs, are straightforward and require few ingredients and little effort for excellent results. They occupy only half the book.

The rest of the volume is devoted largely to a scientific, but accessible, discussion of cancer and lifestyle and of how specific foods may play a role in preventing the development of certain types of cancer.

The book “Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer” is sprinkled liberally with descriptions of scientific studies that show a link between diet and cancer prevention. And for those who want to learn more, there’s a bibliography: Think of it as dessert.

source: Canada.com


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Want to Lose Weight? Here is the #1 Habit You Need to Break

December 3, 2012    By Amy O’Connor

There are few absolutes in weight loss science. High-carb versus low-carb diets are still the subject of endless debate. Whether snacks make you slimmer or fatter is an argument for the ages. The evidence for calories-in versus calories-burned is even being questioned.

Amid this dissonant squabbling a clarion truth emerges: Eating at night is strongly associated with being overweight and obese. That after-dark nibbling makes you fat seems to be true for people of all ages.

Two new studies ad, ahem, weight to this consensus and offer some insight into why night snacking can make you overweight.



The first measured the effects of nighttime snacking on energy metabolism. The researchers looked at 11 healthy women, who either consumed a 210-calorie snack at 10 am or 11 pm over 13 days. After the 13-day period, researchers measured the basil metabolic rate for each group.

The conclusion: eating at night changes your metabolism for the worst. Eating the snack at night decreased fat oxidation (the rate at which fat is metabolized into energy and not stored as excess flab) and boosted total and LDL, aka “bad” cholesterol.

A similar study looked at 52 volunteers with the goal of understanding how sleep timing affects weight. The result: Eating in the evening or before sleeping seems to predispose individuals to weight gain because they consumed more calories at night (a phenomenon familiar to anyone who mindlessly munches brownie bites during Homeland).

The best advice: Don’t snack after 6 pm, or—if you are a night owl—after 8 pm. And make sure the snacks you choose after dark are healthy and low-cal.

source: news.health.com


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4 Natural Liver Cleansing Foods

by Anthony Gucciardi    May 29th, 2012 

Liver health is directly tied to your overall health, and poor liver health could very well be the root cause of many diseases that currently affect millions of people worldwide. Often assaulted with toxic substances like high-fructose corn syrup, which can ‘overburden’ the liver and subsequently lead to complications, it is very likely that your liver has experienced at least some degree of damage due to dietary and environmental factors. In fact, the only way to avoid the buildup of toxins in the liver would be to eat a nearly perfect diet free of additives, fillers, modified ingredients, or chemicals — virtually the opposite of the average American diet, which critically lacks any liver cleansing foods.

Thankfully, it is very possible to repair your liver naturally and help release excessive toxin buildup through the power of healing foods. Here are 5 natural liver cleansing foods:

1. Cleanse Your Liver with Avocados

Avocados have been shown to naturally protect and repair your liver. Containing a high amount of glutathione-producing compounds, avocados can actually help boost the ability of the liver to cleanse itself. Astonishing research has even shown that consuming one or two avocados per week for as little as 30 days can make a serious difference in the state of your liver health. The best part? Avocados can be enjoyed with virtually any meal, and are available throughout the world. Try adding in some fresh, organic avocados with your next meal to reap the benefits of liver cleansing foods like this one.

2. Garlic

The superfood garlic, which is known for its ability to fight against cancer and infections naturally, is also among the many great liver cleansing foods as it is very useful in repairing a compromised liver. While the benefits of garlic for liver health and beyond are many, one reason for its superior effects have to do with the fact that garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that are known to activate the liver enzymes responsible for expelling toxins from the body. Another lies in the presence of both allicin and selenium, two important nutrients that play an integral role in the protection of the liver from damage.


3. Turmeric

Turmeric can uniquely assist the enzymes that are responsible for flushing out known dietary carcinogens. The result is enhanced protection against liver damage, and even regeneration of affected liver cells. Turmeric is also notably responsible for improving the health of the gallbladder as well. These benefits are in addition to the shocking ability to turmeric to combat cancer in a number of studies. Researchers at the UCLA also found that curcumin — the ‘key’ compound within turmeric — exhibits cancer-blocking properties. The lab found that the enzymes in the patients’ mouths responsible for promoting cancer spread and growth were inhibited by curcumin supplementation. The ingestion of curcumin intake even blocked the spread of the malignant cells.

4. Lemon and Lime

While not exactly one of the liver cleansing foods, warm water with lemon or lime each morning could be one of the simplest and most advantageous methods of improving the health of your liver. High in vitamin C and potassium, lemons can help regulate biological functions. Some experts, such as A.F. Beddoe — who wrote the book Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition, have also stated that the liver produces more enzymes in response to water with lemon than to any other food.


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Red and processed meats and cancer prevention

Eat less red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meat.

To reduce your cancer risk, eat no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week of red meat, like beef, pork and lamb, and avoid processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and some sausages.

Cancer fact

10% of bowel cancers cases could be prevented through reducing the amount of processed meat we eat.

What is red meat?

Red meat refers to beef, pork, lamb and goat – foods like hamburgers, minced beef, pork chops and roast lamb.

As a rough guide 500g of cooked red meat is the same as 700 to 750g of raw red meat. To help visualise how much this is, a medium portion of roast beef or pork is about 90g and a medium steak is about 145g.

Although eating a lot of red meat is linked to bowel cancer, it is a good source of nutrients including protein, iron and zinc. The evidence shows that eating up to 500g (cooked weight) of red meat per week does not significantly raise cancer risk. Regularly eating more than this, however, does increase risk of bowel cancer.


What are processed meats

Processed meats are meats which have been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives. Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages. Hamburgers and minced meats only count as processed meat if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives.
 
Research has show that eating processed meat can increase cancer risk. If you eat meat, then it is best to choose unprocessed meat.
Related publications:

Red and Processed Meat: finding the balance for cancer prevention

Meat and cancer – the evidence

There is strong evidence that eating a lot of red meat is a cause of bowel cancer.
 
One possible reason for this is that the compound that gives red meat its colour, haem, may damage the lining of the bowel.
 
Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat fewer plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties.
 
There is strong evidence that processed meats are a cause of bowel cancer.
 
When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer.

Tips for eating less red meat and avoiding processed meat

  • Keep several meals a week red meat-free. Make every other evening meal meat-free. Try replacing minced red meat with minced Quorn or use lentils or beans instead.
  • Grilled fish and poultry make tasty alternatives to red meat.
  • Choose vegetables and wholegrains first. Try to avoid large portions of meat.
  • Try canned fish including sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel. These are all great in sandwiches or pasta dishes.
  • Add beans or pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. Tasty alternatives in dishes such as chilli or bolognese, and they can even be made into burgers.
  • Don’t forget eggs, cottage cheese and hummus. These are all good sources of protein too.
  • Swap processed meats for healthier alternatives. Instead of bacon, chorizo or salami, try spicy chicken or vegetarian sausages.
If you want inspiration for meals that do not use a lot of red meat, 
then there are lots of ideas in our recipes section.
Read all our Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
 


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A Simple Way to Take Care of Yourself

Maria Rodale  May 17, 2013

Whip out a pen and paper and quickly write down the top 5 to 10 stresses that wear you down and always seem to be percolating in the back of your mind. When you’re done, look at each one to see if it has a time component. How about that commute? Are you slugging it out in traffic for hours every day? Or what about prodding your kids to get their homework done by dinnertime? Don’t forget the gift you have to buy for the party this weekend.

It turns out that the major culprit that ignites our collective stress and anxiety responses is time. Some researchers have even gone so far as to call stress “a disease of time deficiency.” New science now sheds light on how this time and stress connection affects our ability to take care of ourselves.

It turns out that when you increase the time you spend on one healthy habit (exercising more, preparing healthier foods), you decrease the time you spend on another healthy habit, according to researchers who studied the daily diaries of 112,000 American adults. This fact was the same for both genders, married or single. They discovered that there’s a “substitution effect” that happens when you spend more time on one healthy habit in lieu of another. And then you struggle with which habit to prioritize.

The end result? Rather than having two healthy habits that complement each other, you end up substituting one for the other. And you stress over the choice of which one deserves more time.

This is an issue that most public health organizations don’t take into consideration when they propose healthy habit guidelines. Take the Department of Health and Human Services’ new physical activity guidelines for America. The agency asks that we all:

Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

For additional and more extensive health benefits, we should increase our aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.

We should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

Once these guidelines were announced on the national networks, most adults broke out into time-starved hives, moaning, “How on earth am I going to crowbar all of this into my day?”

Well, let me simplify all of this for you. There are some very simple ways that you can take care of yourself, reduce stress, stay healthy, and enjoy life. Here are my bottom-line suggestions for folks seeking a higher level of health and well-being:


1) Honor your time budget. Like any budget, there are constraints. Before you plan a vacation, you check your bank account balance. So, peer into your daily time wallet, and then plan and look ahead at each day and realistically acknowledge how much time you can dedicate to both food preparation and physical activity. Don’t feel bad about not having enough time. Just accept the time you have and plan for the things you need.

2) Plan for nutritional success. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to plan your meals and prepare food ahead of time. This could mean making soup for the week, grilling chicken breasts that last for several meals, chopping up salad ahead, or slicing fruit that’s ready to go for several snacks and meals. We maintain optimal control over our nutrition when we cook and prepare food for ourselves. Try to avoid convenient grab-and-go fare, as it’s often processed and loaded with salt and preservatives.

3) Delegate instead of abdicate. Don’t feel hopeless about maintaining healthy habits when you’re time crunched. Instead, reach out and ask for help. Women in particular are terrible with this, running into walls of guilt at the thought of seeking assistance. Moms and dads should call upon each other, as well as kids and other family members who live near them, to help with food buying and preparation. Take turns helping each other find time for exercise.

4) Assume the vertical. Most people don’t have the luxury of running off to the gym when they feel like it. It takes time to get there, to work up a sweat, clean up, and then get on with the day. This takes a PhD in time management for most. Here’s an easier way to go: If you don’t have access to a gym or have plans for formal exercise on a particular day, then find every excuse you can to get vertical. Try to stand for 10 minutes out of every hour. Better yet, walk around. A minute here and there adds up quickly. Snap a pedometer onto your waistband and see how close to the daily recommended 10,000 steps you can get. Grab a headset for a walk-’n’-talk instead of sitting for your next conference call. Move your printer far away, along with your wastebasket. Use the restroom three flights above you. Get up and stretch. Do some chair exercises to music. Zumba’s got a great DVD to show you how. Just move more!

5) Complement, don’t substitute. You know that both healthy nutrition and regular physical activity are essential for optimal well-being. If you improve your planning around buying and preparing food and infuse your personal and work time with more get-up-and-go throughout the day, you can include both elements. Be real, and fully acknowledge that each day is a challenge to make it work, but the return on investment is priceless—your health.

6) Don’t lose your mind. With all of this talk about eating and exercise, don’t forget to make time to take a breath in the midst of your daily whirlwind of activities. Honor your mind, as well as your body. Take a minute here or there to just shut off, and be mindful of your internal self, resting the mind-body. In essence, chill out!

Finally, here’s a memo to policy makers and experts crafting healthy-living guidelines: Please heed research studies like this one and take into consideration the time constraints most Americans feel on a daily basis. My recommendation would be to approach guidelines more holistically. See a full 24-hour block of time and come up with creative, accessible ways to help people integrate basic mental, nutritional, and activity goals every day. It’s time to get real.

source: Care2.com


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How You Deal With Your Emotions Can Influence Your Anxiety

By Alexandra Sifferlin   May 13, 2013
      
When faced with a challenge, whether you deny the problems it poses or dive in to solve them in a positive way may determine how much anxiety you feel overall.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 40 million Americans ages 18 and older are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder every year. To dig deeper into who may be at greatest risk, investigators from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign surveyed 179 healthy men and women and asked them how they dealt with their emotions and how their answers correlated with their level of anxiety in a variety of settings.

Previous studies hinted that different strategies that people use to handle emotional situations could impact how much anxiety they felt in general; those who tended to focus on positive ways of resolving difficult circumstances, for example, experienced less nervousness, tension and negative emotions compared with those who avoided challenging situations and suppressed negative and uncomfortable feelings. The scientists in the current study, published in the journal Emotion, wanted to explore the relationship further to see whether the more positive emotional strategy could offer more resilience and protection against anxiety than the suppressive approach.

The participants all answered questionnaires designed to measure how much they were focused on achieving goals, whether they tended to control their emotions by reappraising challenges in a more positive way or whether they tried to ignore and suppress difficult feelings. For example, they rated how closely their behavior aligned with the statements, “I control my emotions by changing the way I think about the situation I am in,” and “I keep my emotions to myself.” They also responded to questions about their anxiety level during different situations such as when giving a report to a group or going to a party.


Comparing their responses, the researchers found that the participants who regularly reframed what was happening to them to view their situation in a better light reported less severe anxiety than the participants who suppressed their emotions in trying situations.

This strategy is called reappraisal, and those who practiced the tactic were more likely to view tough situations as challenges rather than problems, and reported less overall anxiety and social anxiety compared with the participants who tried to ignore their emotions instead.

The results suggest that there may be behavior-based ways of addressing anxiety that people might be able to learn. Seeing difficult experiences as opportunities rather than setbacks requires being flexible enough to find new solutions to problems. People who tend to take this approach, say the study authors, are goal-oriented and able to put individual situations into perspective, realizing that a single trying situation doesn’t necessarily signal doom.

Those who focus on trying to avoid negative situations, while perhaps being proactive, may open themselves up to internalizing symptoms of anxiety and stress more, which can have harmful effects on health. Suppressing emotions may not allow for a productive outlet for frustration or fear, and that could make those who adopt this approach more vulnerable to anxiety.

But the researchers say the findings don’t suggest that anxiety is an all-or-nothing state. A little anxiety can work to a person’s benefit if it enforces concentration and efficiency, like getting work done on a deadline. There may also be situations in which different strategies for handling—and even controlling—emotions is appropriate. In some workplace or social settings, for example, having the self-control to refrain from acting out or saying something regrettable could save a job or friendship.

Not surprisingly, the researchers say it’s about being flexible enough to know how much to regulate emotions and learning to be more flexible when faced with challenging situations. Being adaptive can come more easily to some than others, but many of the strategies for regulating emotions in this way during crises can be learned. “This is something you can change,” said Nicole Llewellyn, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in psychology at the University of Illinois, in a statement. “You can’t do much to affect the genetic or environmental factors that contribute to anxiety. But you can change your emotion-regulation strategies.” And those changes could translate into a more lasting resilience against stress.

source: Time