Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

Leave a comment

Egg yolks almost as heart-harmful as smoking: Study

Both create artery-clogging plaque

You’ve finally quit smoking; now get crackin’at losing the eggs.
That’s if you put any credence in the conclusions of a Western University study that states yolks “accelerate” atherosclerosis — coronary artery disease — in a manner similar to cigarettes.
Surveying more than 1,200 patients, Dr. David Spence, who led the study, found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking in building up carotid plaque — a risk for stroke and heart attack.
“The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue,” says Spence, a professor of neurology at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, Ont. “What we have shown is that with aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries, and egg yolks make it build up faster — about two-thirds as much as smoking. In the long haul, egg yolks are not OK for most people.”
He added that the effect of yolk consumption was independent of sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index and diabetes.
And while he says more research should be performed to account for variables such as exercise and waist circumference, he stressed regular consumption of egg yolks should be avoided by people at risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to Dr. Spence, it’s a no-brainer: the recommended daily intake of cholesterol for people at risk of heart attack and strokes is less than 200 milligrams a day and that one jumbo egg contains about 237 mg of cholesterol.
But Karen Harvey of Egg Farmers of Canada is crying foul and says based on scientific research, the industry doesn’t believe the comparison between egg yolks and smoking is a valid one.
“Independent research confirms that dietary cholesterol in eggs has little effect on blood cholesterol levels in adults,” says Harvey. “These studies have also looked at people with existing heart disease and eating an egg a day did not increase their risk for cardiovascular or stroke either.”
She added that Canadian health care professionals are far more concerned with overall diet — and curbing the consumption of foods high in saturated and trans fats — in order to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke, two areas of concern that Harvey says the recent Western study failed to include in its review.
Spence says the “back and fourth” battle between his studies and the egg producers has been ongoing and he blames the media for giving “the egg people” an opportunity to spread what he calls propaganda and misinformation.
“Who are you going to believe, top researchers and doctors who have been telling Canadians that egg yolks are harmful to one’s health, or people who want to sell eggs,” he says. “Some of the research they claim to have only tells half the story.”
He says some studies (of various egg boards) didn’t wait until the subjects got well into their later years (when the effects of cholesterol are easier seen) and were released prematurely.
He compares North American egg boards to tobacco industry equivalents that for decades denied any health risks from smoking.
In 2010 his London house was “egged” after he released one of his scathing reports but says he never found out who the perpetrators were.
Atherosclerosis is a disorder of the arteries where plaque — aggravated by cholesterol — forms on the inner arterial wall.
When a portion of the buildup detaches and begins to travel through the blood stream it could block a smaller artery ultimately leading to a heart attack or stroke.
The study, published online in the journal Atherosclerosis, looked at the data from the 1,231 men and women, with a mean age of 61.5, who were patients attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital.
The research found carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and egg yolk-years.
In other words, compared to age, both tobacco smoking and egg yolk consumption accelerated atherosclerosis.
The study also found that those eating three or more yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate two or fewer yolks per week.
source: thespec.com  Torstar News

Leave a comment

33 Ways to Eat Environmentally Friendly

If you started using reusable bags exclusively starting at age 25, you could save more than 21,000 plastic bags in your lifetime. Point being: sustainable eating doesn’t have to be hard, and it also doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. A single change can make a difference


The sustainable food movement is sweeping the country. Farmer’s markets, organic produce, genetically modified foods, cage-free eggs — they’ve all become part of the cultural lingo. While a lot of this conversation focuses around whether organic foods are better for people’s health, let’s not forget that these trends are also good for the planet. Read on to learn about the 33 environmentally friendly eating habits that are making a difference for our bodies and our earth.

At the store:
1. Reuse it. Bring a reusable bag on your next shopping trip, and you’ve already helped out the planet. The U.S. alone uses about 100 billion new plastic bags each year, and (brace yourself) this massive production costs 12 million barrels of oil. Worldwide, only about 1% of plastic bags are recycled — which means that the rest end up in landfills, oceans or elsewhere in the environment. Why does it matter? Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, but light exposure can degrade them enough to release toxic polymer particles — most of which end up in the ocean. Approximately 1 million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals die of starvation each year after ingesting plastic bags, which block their digestive tracts. And public agencies spend millions of dollars on litter clean-up each year. (In case you’re wondering, paper bags aren’t much better. Each year, 14 million trees are cut down to make paper shopping bags via a process that requires even more energy than the making of plastic bags.)
2. Strip down. Look for products with minimal packaging, like unwrapped produce or meat straight from the deli counter or butcher. Excess packaging is often made out of unsustainable materials and contributes to waste that ends up in landfills. Perhaps the worst culprit is polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam), which is a suspected carcinogen and is manufactured through an energy-intensive process that creates hazardous waste and greenhouse gases.
3. Don’t buy the bottle. Millions of tons of plastic are used to produce billions of plastic water bottles each yearSave money and lessen waste by drinking tap water from a reusable water bottle. Worried about your health? Try a water filter, or take courage from the fact that a lot of bottled water is likely no better than what’s on tap.
4. Shop different. Choose to give your money to stores that demonstrate care for the planet, both in their company practices and in the food selections they provide. Look for a selection of local and organic foods as well as store practices that limit waste (think doors on the refrigerated sections so that energy isn’t wasted, minimal and/or recyclable packaging and a store-wide recycling program).
5. Go local. Eating locally grown foods is possibly the best way to lower your carbon footprint when it comes to what you eat. Bonus: Eating locally means that food will be fresher — and therefore taste better and perhaps retain more nutrients — than food shipped across the globe.
6. Eat more of it. Eat more produce than any other food category, and you’ve already made an impact for the planet (not to mention your body!).
7. Go organic. The definition of organic can be a little confusing, but food labels can help. Certified organic foods are grown and processed using farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity, without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes or petroleum- or sewage-sludge-based fertilizers. (Weird. Who wouldn’t want their food grown in sewage sludge?) Though their benefits to the environment have a long-term payoff, organic foods can be pricier — if you’re on a budget, find out which foods are most worth buying organic, and limit your organic purchases to the ones that make the biggest impact.
8. Eat it raw. Chomp down on a raw carrot instead of boiling or sautéing it, and save energy that would otherwise have been used to power cooking appliances.
9. Eat in season. Seasonal nomming allows you to eat locally — and we’ve already covered how important local purchasing is for the environment. Check out what’s growing nearby right now.
10. Preserve it. Want to eat more locally, but love to eat strawberries year-round? Learn how to preserve fruits and vegetables so you can eat locally grown produce all year long (it’s bound to impress Grandma, too).
11. Grow it. You don’t need to live in the wild to grow your own fruits and veggies. Join a community garden, or, if you’re cramped for space, create a vertical garden right inside your window.
12. Get some community support. Not into the idea of growing your own? Consider joining a CSA (short for community supported agriculture), which allows you to reap the benefits of locally grown produce without getting your hands dirty.
13. Eat less of it. Industrially farmed meat has the greatest impact of any food product on the environment. In addition to the tips outlined below, consider making meat less of a staple in your diet. Can’t give up the stuff? Try going meat-free for just one day per week (or one meal per week if you’re really attached).
14. You guessed it: buy local. We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: buying local is a great way to cut down on the environmental impact of your food. Just imagine how much energy it would take to haul a side of beef from, say, New Zealand, in comparison to transporting it from the local butcher shop.
15. Go organic. When it comes to meat, the definition of “organic” changes a little. Obviously, chickens aren’t grown in the soil, nor are they (we hope!) conventionally grown with pesticides. Rather, organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and cannot be supplemented with antibiotics or growth hormones.
16. Be anti-antibiotics. It’s common practice these days to feed growth-producing antibiotics to animals raised for meat, but this results in health risks for the animals — and, by extension, the people who eat them.
17. Go out to pasture. Pasture-raised livestock make less of a negative environmental impact. They’re also treated more humanely than their industrially raised counterparts.
18. Look for the label. Figuring out how to buy sustainable seafood is tough: turns out “wild caught” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s environmentally friendly, after all, while some farmed fish are. The easiest way to sort through all the confusion is to look for the label of the Marine Stewardship Council, which guarantees that a product has successfully met requirements for sustainability.
19. Know your fish. Check out these guides to figure out which fish are least endangered and most likely to be farmed sustainably, and use them to guide your buying decisions.
20. Be a patriot. Buy Canadian caught or farmed fish. It’s as close as you can get to buying “local” when you live in a land-locked province, and it also means that the product has had the chance to be reviewed by the Marine Stewardship Council, so you have a better sense of the conditions under which the fish were caught.
21. Try something new. Instead of eating the ever-popular Alaskan salmon along with everybody else at the restaurant, expand your diet and distribute your impact by trying different varieties of fish. Check out these alternatives to some of our fishy favorites — you might even find a variety that you like more than tuna. In the process, you’ll reduce the risk of endangering key species.
22. Be hormone-free. (Wouldn’t that have made adolescence easier…) Just as livestock raised for consumption are often pumped full of antibiotics, dairy cows are often fed artificial hormones to up their milk production. This has big health impacts for the cows, the people who consume their milk and other dairy products, and the environment (manure lagoons sure don’t sound like a good thing to us). Industrial dairy production is also linked to massive greenhouse gas emissions. Luckily, hormone-free dairy products are readily available.
23. Surprise! Go local. As always when buying local, you’ll be reducing the distance that food must travel — and the energy it takes to do so — on its way to your plate.
24. Go organic. It’s better for the environment and for your body.
25. Cut back. The production of one pound of cheese might produce upwards of 11 lbs. of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted by human activities and a big driver of climate change. As with meat, you can quickly lessen your environmental impact simply by eating less dairy. Bonus: eliminating common staples from your diet one or two days a week is a chance to experiment with fun new recipes.
At a restaurant:
26. Order from the tap. Cut down on packaging; ask for tap water instead of bottled. Likewise, save the beer bottle and order on tap.
27. Eat local. Just because you’re not at the farmer’s market doesn’t mean the market’s bounty isn’t available to you. More and more restaurants are incorporating locally sourced items into their menus.
28. Don’t be afraid to ask. There’s no shame in asking your server or a manager how your food was grown or processed (though it’s probably best not to take it to this extreme).
Eating at home:
29. Reduce waste. Use cloth napkins and real plates, bowls and utensils.
30. Turn waste into a resource. If you’ve got the inclination and a little bit of free time, give composting a try and turn food scraps into a resource that keeps on giving.
31. Revamp leftovers. Instead of dumping leftovers in the trash, turn them into new meals. It’ll reduce waste and also save on the energy it would have taken to cook a different meal the next day.
32. Double your recipes. Leftovers will last twice as long, and you’ll use less energy than you would if you cooked multiple meals.
33. Cook one local meal per week. Challenge yourself to cook one meal a week (or month) that is composed completely of local ingredients. Get some friends in on the action and revel in doing something good for your health and the health of the planet.

source: Time

Leave a comment

Kids and Milk

Lactose intolerance, raw milk and kids’ nutrition

When we were kids, a glass of milk was a symbol of health. In recent years, however, it’s become clear that researchers and clinicians don’t unilaterally agree cow’s milk is actually good for us. Last year, for example, an L.A. Times article weighed in on the debate, pointing out that while there are plenty of facts and findings about milk and its effect on human health has been studied extensively, there are no definitive conclusions as to how much of it we should be drinking. It seems the frothy mustache-maker we grew up with has become a source of dietary confusion and debate.

Conflicting evidence

For kids over the age of one, doctors recommend multiple servings of dairy every day (a serving being a cup of milk or yogurt, or a handful of cubes of cheese) for nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamins D and B. Kids could theoretically get all these nutrients from other foods, but a glass of milk covers a lot of bases in one cup.
And little kids also need fat in their diets for proper brain development. But some nutritionists and doctors worry that dairy’s saturated fat may be too much of a good thing. A glass of whole milk contains roughly eight grams of fat and 30 mg of cholesterol. Given the increasing number of overweight kids, the worry is that too much high-fat milk could increase the likelihood of obesity and heart disease later in life. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that children at risk for being overweight or having high cholesterol drink two percent milk starting at age one (as opposed the former recommendation of whole milk until age two), then switch to one percent a year later. Milk has a lot of calories, and, theoretically, milk-loving kid could also fill up on the drink and forgo other nutrient-rich foods.
Are humans built to drink milk?
Beyond the weight concern, others argue that we aren’t built to drink cow’s milk in the first place. Throughout most of history, human beings were unable to digest the lactose protein in milk beyond early childhood because the enzyme needed to do so naturally stopped working at a certain age. At some point in the last 5,000 years, scientists think a genetic mutation caused some adults to persist in tolerating milk, and that population maintained the trait. Today in the U.S. and parts of Europe, the majority of adults have the necessary enzyme to digest milk, but the world-over, about seventy five percent of people get sick when they drink it.
Given that lactose intolerance is so common and that the main purpose of milk from any animal is to feed infants, it’s probably not intended to be a big part of our diet beyond early childhood. Human breast milk changes in nutritional composition as a child grows – adjusting the amount of fat, for example, depending on the stage of development. Cow’s milk doesn’t do that. It’s a perfect fit for a baby calf, but not necessarily for a growing human being.
It’s confusing, to say the least, since there’s also plenty of evidence that many people are vitamin-D deficient – potentially a major public health problem, leading to higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions. The sun is the best supplier of vitamin D (the rays we avoid to lessen our chance of skin cancer), but fortified milk, along with orange juice and wild-caught oily fish, is our top dietary source.

The milk middle road

The bottom line most doctors see is that milk is a good idea for a toddler if he’s no longer drinking breast milk, and that multiple dairy servings deliver important nutrients for the first years of life. Although we haven’t seen the updated guidelines for kids yet, the new dietary paradigm from the USDA – the healthful “plate” instead of the long-standing food pyramid – gives us some clues about how we might view milk for older children. In the MyPlate diagram, the dairy is in a small glass, with vegetables and fruit making up half the plate, and meat and carbohydrates composing the other half. Dairy has its place, but it’s by no means the center of a meal. Maybe a head of broccoli or a bushel of Swiss chard has replaced milk as being our symbol of health.
source: babble.com

Leave a comment

Low-Fat Dairy Linked to Lower Stroke Risk

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) — In what the researchers say is the largest study on the issue to date, adults who consumed higher amounts of low-fat dairy products also had a somewhat lower long-term risk of stroke.
The study involved nearly 75,000 Swedish adults who were tracked for an average of 10 years after completing a dietary questionnaire.
Those who consumed low-fat versions of products such as milk, yogurt or cheese had a 12 percent lower risk for stroke than those whose diet typically included high/full-fat versions of these dairy staples.
“I think this finding certainly makes sense,” said Lona Sandon, a dietician and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “When you have more high-fat dairy you have more saturated fat, which we know is one of the types of fats that can affect LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol levels. And eating saturated fat leads to clogging up arteries in the heart and the brain. So then you’re more likely to have the clots breaking off and causing something like an ischemic stroke.”
However, “when you’re looking at stroke risk you’d really want to look at an individual’s whole dietary pattern,” said Sandon, who was not involved in the new research. “But it is certainly plausible that whole-fat dairy bumps up the risk that is out there.”
A research team led by Susanna Larsson, from the division of nutritional epidemiology at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, reported the findings April 19 in the journalStroke.
The study authors noted that in the United States, about one-third of all adult men and women over the age of 18 have high blood pressure, which they describe as a “major controllable risk factor” for stroke. Still, they added, only about half of affected Americans have their blood pressure under control.
With that in mind, experts have long touted the benefits of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet), with its emphasis on low-fat dairy consumption.
In 1997, the Swedish team administered food surveys to almost 75,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 83, none of whom had a prior history of either heart disease or cancer.
From that point forward, the incidence of stroke among study participants was monitored via data collected by the Swedish Hospital Discharge Registry.
Over the course of about a decade, nearly 4,100 strokes occurred, the authors noted. People who stuck to low-fat dairy products appeared to have a somewhat lower risk for stroke. The study was only able to find an association between eating low-fat dairy products and lowered odds for stroke; it could not prove cause-and-effect.
The Swedish researchers called for further large studies to examine the apparent association, while at the same time suggesting that, if it holds up upon further scrutiny, the finding could have broad public health implications.
Larsson’s team pointed out that when it comes to dairy consumption, the typical North American diet closely mirrors that of northern Europeans, so a snapshot of Swedish diets and stroke risk might be relevant to a U.S. population.
“The bottom line is that if you’re consuming more fat in your day — no matter where it’s coming from — it is going to increase your risk for atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries], and thereby your risk for stroke,” said Sandon. “And that’s what’s behind the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that you get three dairy servings per day, in order to get enough calcium and potassium, but at the same time making sure that those servings are low-fat.”
Larsson’s study was funded by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research and the Swedish Research Council.
More information
For more on how diet impacts stroke risk, head to the National Stroke Association.
SOURCES: Lona Sandon, R.D., dietician and assistant professor of clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; April 19, 2012, Stroke
source:  HealthDay  news.health.com    

Leave a comment

7 Ayurvedic Tips for Fighting the Common Cold

April 14, 2012

Shubhra Krishan

I am sure we all have our own little tricks for dealing with the common cold. Some of us straightaway pop decongestant and sinus-relief tablets, others try to blow it all out loud and clear.

Ayurveda, I have realised, offers some truly helpful advice for increasing your immunity, so that the nuisance simply doesn’t happen—or at least bugs you much less frequently. I’ve tried all these tips, with success. Sharing them with you:

1. Keep your digestive machinery running smooth. If there is constipation, a cold is usually not far behind. The reason: all that undigested material is rotting inside your system, creating a ‘seedbed,’ so to say, for agents of disease to thrive on.

2. Include ‘warming’ spices in your diet: specifically black pepper and cumin. Freshly crushed black pepper, mixed with a spoonful of honey, is a cold-fighter that generations have used.

3. Stewed fruits, such as apple, pears and peaches, cooked with cloves and cinnamon, warm you up nicely and keep the a-tissues away!

4. Turmeric is my absolutely favourite spice for boosting immunity. It has innumerable healing benefits, among which is its capacity to destroy germs and ease inflammation. So, cook your greens, stews and stir-fries with a touch of turmeric. You get both golden colour and healthy respiration.

5. Avoid certain ‘mucus-forming foods’ such as yogurt and cheese at night. They increase Kapha, which is associated with ‘congestive’ disorders.

6. Basil and honey make another powerful combination, because both are known to boast antiseptic and immunity-boosting properties. How about a soothing honey-basil tea? It’s delicious, too.

7. Here’s an obvious one, which surprisingly many people do not follow: stay warm. When you have a cold, you should not sit in an airconditioned room or wear skimpy clothes. Your body needs warmth and protection to arm itself against the nasty cold.

Happy healing!

source: care2.com