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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Sleeping in on weekends may help reduce diabetes risk

BY LISA RAPAPORT  Mon Jan 18, 2016 

(Reuters Health) – Getting too little sleep during the week can increase some risk factors for diabetes, but sleeping late on weekends might help improve the picture, a small U.S. study suggests.

Researchers conducted a sleep experiment with 19 healthy young men and found just four nights of sleep deprivation were linked to changes in their blood suggesting their bodies weren’t handling sugar as well as usual.

But then, when they let the men get extra sleep for the next two nights, their blood tests returned to normal, countering the effect of the short-term sleep deprivation.

“It gives us some hope that if there is no way to extend sleep during the week, people should try very hard to protect their sleep when they do get an opportunity to sleep in and sleep as much as possible to pay back the sleep debt,” said lead study author Josaine Broussard of the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study doesn’t prove sleeping late every weekend can counter the ill effects of insufficient rest every other night of the week, Broussard cautioned.

And it doesn’t prove that catching up on sleep will prevent diabetes.

“We don’t know if people can recover if the behavior is repeated every week,” Broussard added by email. “It is likely though that if any group of people suffer from sleep loss, getting extra sleep will be beneficial.”

 Sleep

To assess the impact of sleep on diabetes risk, Broussard and colleagues focused on what’s known as insulin sensitivity, or the body’s ability to use the hormone insulin to regulate blood sugar. Impaired insulin sensitivity is one risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which is associated with age and obesity and happens when the body can’t properly convert blood sugar into energy.

The researchers did two brief sleep experiments. On one occasion, the volunteers were permitted just 4.5 hours of rest for four nights, followed by two evenings of extended sleep that amounted to 9.7 hours on average. On another occasion, the same men were allowed to sleep 8.5 hours for four nights.

After the four nights of sleep deprivation, the volunteers’ insulin sensitivity had fallen by 23 percent and their bodies had started to produce extra insulin. But when researchers checked again after two nights of extended rest, the men’s insulin sensitivity, and the amount of insulin their bodies produced, had returned to normal, mirroring what was seen during the portion of the experiment when the volunteers consistently got a good nights’ rest.

The volunteers were given a calorie-controlled diet to limit the potential for their food and drink choices to influence the outcomes. In the real world, when people don’t get enough sleep they tend to overeat, which may limit how much results from this lab experiment might happen in reality, the authors note in a report scheduled for publication in the journal Diabetes Care.

“The results from the present study are unlikely to be fully reflective of what may occur in persons who are older, overweight or obese, or have other potent risk factors for diabetes,” said James Gangwisch, a researcher at Columbia University who wasn’t involved in the study.

Chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to develop other health problems, though, ranging from obesity to high blood pressure to cognitive deficits, the study authors point out.

“By catching up on sleep on the weekends, people are reducing average extent and severity of the effects of sleep deprivation,” Gangwisch added by email. “Ideally, we would all get sufficient sleep on a nightly basis.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1DDtd9j Diabetes Care, released January 18, 2016        www.reuters.com


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What Are AGEs?

AGEs are toxic compounds. Their full name is Advanced Glycation Endproducts, and they form naturally in small amounts in our body. Until recently, scientists thought AGEs were just normal byproducts of our metabolic system linked to sugar.


New studies show that AGEs are present in large quantities in most of the foods we eat today. As new modes of food processing, applied by food industries, or popular methods of cooking expose food to dry-heat to make it safe, digestible and tasty, they also help raise AGEs to levels dangerous for the body.


Why do we consume foods that contain substances known to be toxic? It’s simple. AGEs are known to bring to raw nutrients those positive attributes we associate with our favorite meals. AGEs are responsible for the taste, appearance and the smell of foods we enjoy – the grilled burger and pizza and soft drinks and fried chicken; the bacon and corn chips and cookies. AGEs are at work whenever cooked food attracts our attention, awakens our senses and encourages us to take yet another bite, even when we’re already full. How many of us would consider eating these same foods raw? But before you think of thanking AGEs for all the pleasure they have given you over the years, consider this:

More than any other single dietary component, AGEs are now found to be linked to more diseases and health problems, including diabetesheart and kidney disease, but also dementiaAlzheimer’s diseasestrokearthritis,osteoporosisskin aging, poor wound healing, and periodontal disease.


Why are AGEs toxic?

1. AGEs are oxidants. They corrode our body the same way rust damages metal in a machine if it’s allowed to build up. Oxidation depletes our natural reserves of anti-oxidants, which are the “good guys”. Anti-oxidants are the substances that can neutralize the corrosive effects of AGEs, but only up to a point.
2. The body reacts to AGEs the same way it fights an infection, except that its capacity is limited. Our native defenses normally eliminate AGE toxins by mobilizing a low level of generalized inflammation, which is our body’s normal reaction to ”irritants”, such as bacteria. For example, a person with an infection – an “irritant” to the body – may experience a rise in body temperature – a “fever”, which indicates inflammation, but this will go away soon. Food AGEs, like bacteria, can also trigger inflammation but this time – since they come in often – it may not go away soon, and over time it can erode our self-defenses, as AGEs pile up in the body, like junk. And they continue to cause more oxidation (rusting) and inflammation (low “fever”), which may not become noticed for many years.

At worst, if inflammation is prolonged it will slowly damage every organ in the body – Most chronic diseases are associated with inflammation and high levels of AGEs. At best, AGEs speed up our body’s and mind’s aging

3. Animal fats are easily oxidized by AGEs.   When this happens, AGE-lipids from our food tend to stick to our arteries and cause blockage, high blood pressure or heart trouble. Or they settle in our waistline as AGE-fat, causing inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin, a vital hormone, becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar and its levels become abnormally high. Excessive body weight is closely associated with this condition, frequently leading to diabetes.
4. AGEs also can cause proteins to stick together. With years, AGE-proteins become rigid. This is one reason why joints, muscles and tendons become stiff and inflexible over time. This is why blood vessels become thick and inelastic, a condition we call “hardening of the arteries”, which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.


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Surprising Facts About Cinnamon

Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati   September 8, 2013

Cinnamon has long been enjoyed both as a culinary spice and natural medicine.

Health benefits of Cinnamon:

Nutritional: 

Anti-Clotting: Cinnamaldehyde (a volatile/essential) oil in cinnamon may help stop blood from clotting unnecessarily. According to whfoods.com, cinnamon accomplishes this, “by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.)”

This same property (inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid) makes cinnamon a natural anti-inflammatory.

Anti-Microbial: The essential oils in cinnamon are also “anti-microbial” and have been shown to stop many types of fungal and bacterial growth.

“Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives.” – whfoods.com

Blood Sugar Control: Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant and also may help to control blood sugar on many levels, which helps

  • slow the rate at which the stomach empties after meals.
  • improve insulin response in people with Type 2 Diabetes.

As little as one gram of cinnamon a day has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol, in individuals with diabetes. According to whfoods.com, cinnamon will help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 disease.


Boosts Brain Function: Smelling the scent of cinnamon can boost brain activity.

In research reported by whfoods.com, cinnamon “enhanced study participants’ cognitive processing,” with the following activities:

  •      Tasks related to attentional processes
  •      Virtual recognition memory
  •      Working memory
  •      Visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based program

Improved colon health and protection against heart disease:

Cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber, calcium and certain minerals, such as manganese.

Calcium and fiber combine to help remove bile salts from the body, which helps to protect the colon and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Through this process, cholesterol levels may be lowered, helping prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease.

The fiber in cinnamon may also provide relief from constipation or diarrhea.

Warming Effects:

Cinnamon has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, for its warming properties, such as during a cold or flu.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon
– Whfoods.com


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Cocoa tied to improved brain function in some elderly

By Andrew M. Seaman     NEW YORK     Wed Aug 7, 2013 

(Reuters Health) – Older people with impaired blood flow to their brains saw improvements in thinking skills after drinking two cups of cocoa every day for a month, in a new study.

The study’s researchers caution, however, that people shouldn’t start stocking up on hot chocolate mix to help solve their crossword puzzles based on the new finding.

“We’re several steps removed from that recommendation,” said Dr. Farzaneh Sorond, the study’s lead author from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Instead, Sorond said the result helps focus future research that may turn up which component or components of hot chocolate are linked to better thinking skills.

Previous research has found the brain is more active if it gets an adequate supply of oxygen and sugar from the blood, the researchers wrote in the journal Neurology.

Among people with certain diseases that affect blood vessels – such as high blood pressure and diabetes – blood flow to the brain may be impaired.

Sorond and her colleagues wanted to look at whether drinking hot chocolate rich in flavanols could improve thinking skills in those people.

Studies have found that eating chocolate containing the plant compounds is linked to lower blood pressure readings and fewer strokes (see Reuters Health stories of Oct 10, 2011 and Aug 14, 2012 here: reut.rs/19NXUdo and reut.rs/QzBg9E.)


For the new study, the researchers recruited 60 people who were an average of 73 years old to be separated into one of two groups.

People in one group were told to drink two cups of flavanol-rich hot chocolate every day for one month. Those in the other group drank low-flavanol hot chocolate. All participants were told to not eat or drink any other chocolate during the study period.

There were no differences in blood flow or in scores on thinking tests between the two hot chocolate groups at the start of the study or after one month. So the researchers combined both cocoa groups and compared people with poor blood flow to the brain at the start of the study to those who had adequate blood flow.

They found more people with poor blood flow at the start saw their circulation improve by the end, compared to people who had adequate blood flow initially.

Also, while those with adequate blood flow didn’t see a significant improvement on tests that measured their thinking skills, the 17 people in the impaired flow group did.

Among those people, the time it took to connect sequential dots on pieces of paper or recognize certain characters on computer screens fell from 167 seconds at the start of the study to 116 seconds at the end.

Sorond said that time can add up for people during the day.

“That’s important if you add it to everything that requires multitasking for us,” she said.

It’s possible that even small amounts of flavanols make a difference for people with impaired blood flow, Sorond said, or that the caffeine in cocoa played a role in their improvement.

She warned, however, that the new study cannot prove drinking hot chocolate boosted thinking or blood flow.

“The next step is that we need a larger sample and we need more people with impairment at baseline… (to) see if we can demonstrate the same finding in a larger group,” Sorond said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/JOxTg9   Neurology, online August 7, 2013.


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Harvard Scientists Urge You to Stop Drinking Milk

Posted by: True Activist  July 3, 2013   
by: Mike Barrett     Natural Society

Vegans may have had it right all along; while raw, organic milk offers numerous health benefits, a Harvard researcher and pediatrician argues that conventional milk and dairy products alike are a detriment to your health – thanks to added health-compromising sweeteners.

As David Ludwig mentioned in his research, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, there have been countless pieces of research concluding the ill effects of sugar-sweetened beverages. The over-consumption of sugar has been tied to obesity, diabetes, inflammatory-related pain, and much more. And because of sugar’s negative effects on our health, even the United States Department of Agriculture, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other organizations are recommending against consuming calories from sugary drinks.

The one calorie-containing beverage they still heavily promote, however, is reduced-fat milk, where the organization recommends drinking 3 cups daily. This is where Ludwig questions the scientific rationale for such recommendations.

“This recommendation to drink three cups a day of milk – it’s perhaps the most prevailing advice given to the American public about diet in the last half century. As a result, Americans are consuming billions of gallons of milk a year, presumably under the assumption that their bones would crumble without them,” says David Ludwig.

As far as Ludwig is concerned, if the USDA is recommending to drink reduced-fat milk, it is also inadvertently encouraging the consumption of added sugars – a piece of advice that goes against all the research saying not to consume sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages. The idea of consuming low-fat milk or chocolate milk cancels out the whole reasoning for the recommendation in the first place since the fats are simply being replaced with dangerous sugars.

“The worst possible situation is reduced-fat chocolate milk: you take out the fat, it’s less tasty. So to get kids to drink 3 cups a day, you get this sugar-sweetened beverage,” Ludwig says. ”…we can get plenty of calcium from a whole range of foods. On a gram for gram basis, cooked kale has more calcium than milk. Sardines, nuts seeds beans, green leafy vegetables are all sources of calcium.”



The Case Against Low-Fat Dairy, and Other Dangers of Milk

Harvard researcher David Ludwig certainly has a point in analyzing and ultimately criticizing the USDA’s recommendations, but there is much more to the full-fat vs reduced-fat argument for milk and dairy products.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid certain fats such as trans-fats and refined polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils (like corn, soy, sunflower, and canola), but the evidence for moderate consumption of saturated fat, which is found in milk, coconut oil, and grass-fed land animals, is coming to the surface. While saturated fat was villainized for decades, a 2010 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of [coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease].”

Further, there are numerous benefits to drinking full-fat dairy products. In it’s most pure state (raw, organic, and coming from grass-fed cows), full-fat dairy has been found in research to potentially promote heart health, control diabetes, aid in vitamin absorption, lower bowel cancer risk, and even aid in weight loss. But while pure dairy could promote your health, conventional dairy may prove damaging.

Before you consume more conventional dairy, please educate yourself as to what’s in your dairy. You’d be surprised that there could be 20+ painkillers, antibiotics, and much more lurking in your milk.

sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2353336/Got-milk-Better-make-sure-s-low-fat-sugar-free.html
http://www.today.com/health/milk-does-body-good-maybe-not-always-harvard-doc-argues-6C10505414


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Benefits of Magnesium

We normally hear about the importance of iron and calcium, and vitamin’s C and D. 
We don’t hear much about magnesium, however, and this mineral, 
when one becomes deficient, can lead to severe health consequences. 
Not only that, but an estimated 80% of Americans are deficient in this mineral, 
and they may never know it since it is hard to measure with blood testing.
 
The enzymes in our body require magnesium to undergo their daily reactions. 
In fact, magnesium is found in over 300 different enzymes in the body 
which are responsible for things like:
 
1) Proper Bowel Function 
In the digestive tract, magnesium acts as a coenzyme – it breaks down food and helps assimilate the nutrients into the cells of your body. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach in also dependent on magnesium for its production and assimilation, as well as the bile in your liver.
 
2) Heart Muscle Contraction
Magnesium helps transport potassium, calcium and other ions across cell membranes, and without proper coordination and participation of magnesium to help these nutrients into cell membranes, then our heart would not properly function. This crucial function of magnesium in our bodies helps promote healthy muscle contraction, normal heart rhythm and healthy nerve impulses.
 
3) Relaxation of Blood Vessels
Magnesium is vital for muscle relaxation. Arteries and vessels are made up primarily of smooth muscle (the middle layer called the “Tunica Media”), and this muscle contracts and relaxes like a pump, allowing blood to flow through the body. Research has shown that magnesium acts to relax blood vessels (vasodilaton), which is associated with lower blood pressure.
 
4) Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
In fact, without enough magnesium in your body, you may be prone to developing diabetes. Magnesium deficiency has been directly linked to insulin resistance, and thus, increases your chances of becoming diabetic or developing some other chronic health issue.
 
5) Proper Formation of Bones and Teeth
We normally only think of calcium when it comes to maintaining healthy bones and teeth, however, magnesium is also a large player in this case as well. About half of your body’s magnesium supply is stored in your bones and it helps strengthen the structure of our bones with the help of vitamin D and calcium.
 
 
 
6) Creation of ATP (energy molecules of the body)
Magnesium is essential for proper ATP synthesis. ATP requires magnesium in order to be stable, and without magnesium, ATP would break down into other components called ADP and inorganic phosphate. Without enough magnesium, our ATP synthesis slows and doesn’t work as it should which can lead to serious health issues.
 
7) Reduces Cancer Risk
The body’s most powerful antioxidant, “glutathione,” requires magnesium to function properly. When magnesium is present, the body can properly shield itself from heavy metals, environmental chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, all factors that determine your risk for developing cancer. In fact, increasing magnesium to just 100 mg extra per day has been found to reduce a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer by around 13 percent!
 
Magnesium has been found to help in a variety of health-related cases, such as those suffering from fibromyalgia, atrial fibrillation, type 2 diabetes, PMS, cardiovascular disease, migraines, and aging. 
 
Incorporating magnesium into your diet is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, many fruit and vegetables contain magnesium, which could dramatically improve your health. Chlorophyll, which creates the beautiful green colour of many of the plant foods we eat, allows the plant to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy. This molecule contains a magnesium atom in its centre, and is also highly similar to the structure of our hemoglobin, meaning that lots of green leafy salads and juices nourish our blood and the cells of our body.
 
Men should aim for around 320 mg of magnesium per day, whereas women should aim for 230 mg/day.
 
The best natural sources of magnesium include (per 100 grams):
Sea Vegetables (nori, wakame, dulse) = 770 mg
Raw Cacao = 550 mg
Raw Pumpkin Seeds =  535 mg
Cilantro/Corriander = 694 mg
Almonds = 268 mg
Bananas = 27 mg
Okra = 57 mg
Swiss Chard = 81 mg
Spinach (or any dark leafy greens) = 79 mg
Hazelnuts = 163 mg
Beet Greens = 98 mg
Dates = 77 mg
Figs = 68 mg
Avocados = 29 mg


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The Benefits of Flaxseed

Is flaxseed the new wonder food? Preliminary studies show that it may help fight heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer.

 By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD   WebMD Expert Column

Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it.  Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.

Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased.  Flaxseed is what’s used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:

  •     Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  •     Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  •     Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.

 

The Health Benefits of Flax

Although Lilian Thompson, PhD, an internationally known flaxseed researcher from the University of Toronto, says she wouldn’t call any of the health benefits of flax “conclusively established,” research indicates that flax may reduce risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.

Cancer

Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.

In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.

The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Thompson says some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.

Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.

Cardiovascular Disease

Research suggests that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. Fitzpatrick says new research also suggests significant blood pressure-lowering effects of flaxseed. Those effects may be due to both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the amino acid groups found in flaxseed.

Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flaxseed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings.

“Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%,” Fitzpatrick says.

Because plant omega-3s may also play a role in maintaining the heart’s natural rhythm, they may be useful in treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. More research is needed on this.

Eating flaxseed daily may also help your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A  study of menopausal women showed a decrease in LDL level after the women ate 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day for a year. Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol-lowering effects of flaxseed are the result of the combined benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans.

Diabetes

Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).

Inflammation

Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson’s disease and asthma) by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents, Fitzpatrick says.

ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. And studies in animals have found that lignans can decrease levels of several pro-inflammatory agents.

Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attack and strokes.

Hot Flashes

One study of menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half. The intensity of their hot flashes also dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.

But another study reported no significant reduction in hot flashes between postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients eating a bar containing 410 milligrams of phytoestrogens from ground flaxseed and women eating a placebo bar.

The results, says Thompson, are consistent with other studies that have shown no siginifcant difference in the effect on hot flashes between flaxseed and placebo.

Flaxseed Isn’t a Magic Bullet

It’s tempting to think of flaxseed as a super food because of its many potential health benefits. But keep in mind there is no magic food or nutrient that guarantees improved health.

What matters is consistently making great dietary choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Who Shouldn’t Use Flaxseed?

Until more is known, Thompson says, pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flaxseed.

“Our own animal studies showed that flaxseed exposure during these stages may be protective against breast cancer in the offspring. But a study of another investigator showed the opposite effect,” Thompson says.
Tips for Using Flaxseed

Many experts believe it’s better to consume flaxseed than flax oil (which contains just part of the seed) so you get all the components. But stay tuned as researchers continue to investigate.

Thompson says, “Ground flaxseed, in general, is a great first choice, but there may be specific situations where flax oil or the lignans (taken in amounts naturally found in flaxseed) might be as good.”

How much flaxseed do you need? The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. But 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada.

Here are more tips for using, buying, and storing flaxseed:

  •     Buy it ground or grind it yourself. Flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components. If you want to grind flaxseed yourself, those little electric coffee grinders seem to work best.
  •     Milled = ground = flax meal. Don’t be confused by the different product names for ground flaxseed. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
  •     Buy either brown or golden flaxseed. Golden flaxseed is easier on the eyes, but brown flaxseed is easier to find in most supermarkets. There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
  •     Find it in stores or on the Internet. Many supermarket chains now carry ground flaxseed (or flax meal). It’s usually in the flour or “grain” aisle or the whole-grain cereal section and is often sold in 1-pound bags. You can also find it in health food stores or order it on various web sites.
  •     Check the product label. When buying products containing flaxseed, check the label to make sure ground flaxseed, not whole flaxseed, was added. Flaxseed is a featured ingredient in cereals, pasta, whole grain breads and crackers, energy bars, meatless meal products, and snack foods.

    Add flaxseed to a food you habitually eat. Every time you have a certain food, like oatmeal, smoothies, soup, or yogurt, stir in a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just do it.

    Hide flaxseed in dark, moist dishes. The dishes that hide flaxseed the best are dark sauces or meat mixtures. No one tends to notice flaxseed when it’s stirred into enchilada casserole, chicken parmesan, chili, beef stew, meatloaf, or meatballs. For a 4-serving casserole, you can usually get away with adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed. For a dish serving 6 to 8, use 4 to 8 tablespoons.

    Use it in baking. Substitute ground flaxseed for part of the flour in recipes for quick breads, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels, pancakes, and waffles. Try replacing 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flour with ground flaxseed if the recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour.

    Keep it in the freezer. The best place to store ground flaxseed is the freezer. Freeze pre-ground flaxseed in the bag you bought it in or in a plastic sealable bag if you ground it yourself. The freezer will keep the ground flax from oxidizing and losing its nutritional potency.

    Whole flaxseed keeps longer. The outside shell in whole flaxseed appears to keep the fatty acids inside well protected. It’s a good idea to keep your whole flaxseed in a dark, cool place until you grind it. But as long as it is dry and of good quality, whole flaxseed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.

 

Flaxseed Recipe

Ready to try flaxseed? Here’s a recipe to get you started from The Flax Cookbook: Recipes and Strategies for Getting The Most from The Most Powerful Plant on the Planet.

Fruity Flaxseed Muffins

These moist and high-flavor flax muffins are not only good for you, but they taste great too.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice, canned
1/2 cup finely chopped apples (with peel)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, higher omega-3 if available, beaten lightly
2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup raisins, currants (or any other dried fruit, chopped)
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ground flaxseed

Directions:

  •     Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Coat inside of liners with a quick squirt of canola cooking spray.
  •     In large mixing bowl, beat together the pineapple with juice, apples, canola oil, egg, egg whites or egg substitute, sour cream, and molasses until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in raisins or dried fruit.
  •     In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flaxseed.
  •     Add flaxseed mixture to sour cream mixture, beating on low speed just until combined (batter will be a little lumpy). Spoon batter by 1/4 cupful into prepared muffin pan.
  •     Bake in center of preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch.

Yield: 12 muffins

Nutritional Analysis: Per muffin: 194 calories, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, .8 g saturated fat, 2.1 g monounsaturated fat, 2.6 g polyunsaturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g fiber, 224 mg sodium, 1.7 g omega-3 fatty acids. Calories from fat: 28%.

Recipe reprinted with permission.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

 source: www.webmd.com


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Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs

26th May 2013     By Sayer Ji     Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Turmeric is one the most thoroughly researched plants in existence today. Its medicinal properties and components (primarily curcumin) have been the subject of over 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies. In fact, our five-year long research project on this sacred plant has revealed over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications, as well as 175 distinct beneficial physiological effects. This entire database of 1,585 ncbi-hyperlinked turmeric abstracts can be downloaded as a PDF at our Downloadable Turmeric Document page, and acquired either as a retail item or with 200 GMI-tokens, for those of you who are already are members and receive them automatically each month.
Given the sheer density of research performed on this remarkable spice, it is no wonder that a growing number of studies have concluded that it compares favorably to a variety of conventional medications, including:
  • Lipitor/Atorvastatin (cholesterol medication): A 2008 study published in the journal Drugs in R & D found that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids from Turmeric compared favorably to the drug atorvastatin (trade name Lipitor) on endothelial dysfunction, the underlying pathology of the blood vessels that drives atherosclerosis, in association with reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic patients. [i] [For addition curcumin and ‘high cholesterol’ research – 8 abstracts]
  • Corticosteroids (steroid medications): A 1999 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that the primary polyphenol in turmeric, the saffron colored pigment known as curcumin, compared favorably to steroids in the management of chronic anterior uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease.[ii] A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine found that curcumin compared favorably to the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone in the animal model as an alternative therapy for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury by down-regulating inflammatory genes.[iii] An earlier 2003 study published in Cancer Letters found the same drug also compared favorably to dexamethasone in a lung ischaemia-repurfusion injury model.[iv]  [for additional curcumin and inflammation research – 52 abstracts]
  • Prozac/Fluoxetine & Imipramine  (antidepressants): A 2011 study published in the journalActa Poloniae Pharmaceutica found that curcumin compared favorably to both drugs in reducing depressive behavior in an animal model.[v] [for additional curcumin and depression research – 5 abstracts]
  • Aspirin (blood thinner): A 1986 in vitro and ex vivo study published in the journalArzneimittelforschung found that curcumin has anti-platelet and prostacyclin modulating effects compared to aspirin, indicating it may have value in patients prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring anti-arthritis therapy.[vi]  [for additional curcumin and anti-platelet research]
  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: A 2004 study published in the journal Oncogene found that curcumin (as well as resveratrol) were effective alternatives to the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, indomethacin, diclofenac, dexamethasone, celecoxib, and tamoxifen in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells.[vii] [for additional curcumin and anti-proliferative research – 15 abstracts]
  • Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug): A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that curcumin compares favorably with oxaliplatin as an antiproliferative agenet in colorectal cell lines.[viii] [for additional curcumin and colorectal cancer research – 52 abstracts]
  • Metformin (diabetes drug): A 2009 study published in the journal Biochemitry and Biophysical Research Community explored how curcumin might be valuable in treating diabetes, finding that it activates AMPK (which increases glucose uptake) and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression  (which suppresses glucose production in the liver) in hepatoma cells. Interestingly, they found curcumin to be 500 times to 100,000 times (in the form known as tetrahydrocurcuminoids(THC)) more potent than metformin in activating AMPK and its downstream target acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). [ix]

Another way in which turmeric and its components reveal their remarkable therapeutic properties is in research on drug resistant- and multi-drug resistant cancers.  We have two sections on our site dedicated to researching natural and integrative therapies on these topics, and while there are dozens of substances with demonstrable efficacy against these chemotherapy- and radiation-resistant cancers, curcumin tops both lists:

We have found no less than 54 studies indicating that curcumin can induce cell death or sensitize drug-resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[x]
We have identified 27 studies on curcumin’s ability to either induce cell death or sensitize multi-drug resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[xi]
Considering how strong a track record turmeric (curcumin) has, having been used as both food and medicine in a wide range of cultures, for thousands of years, a strong argument can be made for using curcumin as a drug alternative or adjuvant in cancer treatment.
Or, better yet, use certified organic (non-irradiated) turmeric in lower culinary doses on a daily basis so that heroic doses won’t be necessary later in life after a serious disease sets in. Nourishing yourself, rather than self-medicating with ‘nutraceuticals,’ should be the goal of a healthy diet. [learn more at Sayer Ji’s new collaborative project EATomology]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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More evidence adding nuts is a healthy choice

By Genevra Pittman   NEW YORK   Fri Apr 26, 2013

(Reuters Health) – People can safely add a few nuts to their diet – or replace other foods with the high-unsaturated fat, high-fiber snacks – without gaining weight, a new review of past studies suggests.

Researchers combined data from 31 trials conducted across the globe and found that on average, there was very little difference in changes in weight or waist measurements between people who were put on a normal or nut-supplemented diet.

“Most of the nut-enriched studies don’t show that patients gain a significant amount of weight, in contrast to what one might think,” said Dr. David Bleich, head of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.

Gemma Flores-Mateo from the Institut Universitari d’Investigacio en Atencio Primaria Jordi Gol in Tarragona, Spain and colleagues said previous research has tied nut-containing diets to a lower risk of death, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Bleich, who wasn’t involved in the new report, said his own work has shown measures of insulin resistance – a diabetes predictor – were lower when people added nuts to their diets.

“One would generally think if you’re increasing the ‘fat content’ of the diet, you might in fact make insulin resistance worse,” he told Reuters Health. “It speaks to this issue of the quality of the fats that we consume.”


Nuts may also suppress hunger because of their unsaturated fats, fiber and protein, the researchers noted.

In the trials they looked at, participants were randomly assigned to a normal diet or one that included extra nuts – or, more often, nuts substituted for other food items – and followed for anywhere from two weeks to five years.

At the end of follow-up, people on nut diets had dropped about 1.4 extra pounds and lost close to half an inch off their waists, compared to those in the nut-free groups. However, the differences could have been due to chance.

“Although the magnitude of these effects was modest, the results allay the fear that nut consumption may promote obesity,” Flores-Mateo’s team wrote last week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Our findings support the inclusion of nuts in healthy diets for cardiovascular prevention.”

However it’s not simply a matter of “throwing additional nuts into your already poor-quality diet,” Bleich said. He said heart protection comes from looking at a fuller picture of the diet – and adding fruits, vegetables and olive oil, for example, in addition to nuts.

Dr. Adam Gilden Tsai, an obesity researcher from the University of Colorado in Denver, said he wouldn’t recommend people eat nuts on top of their normal diet, but that substituting them for other foods may lead to some benefits, such as on cholesterol levels.

“It’s fine to eat nuts if you can still limit your calories,” Tsai told Reuters Health. But he cautioned that it can be hard for people to eat just one serving.

“Normally what I would say to a patient is, ‘A small handful of nuts can be a very good and filling snack, but you have to be very careful because it’s high in calories.'”

SOURCE: bit.ly/15MepVc American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online April 17, 2013          Reuters 
 


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8 Astonishing Benefits of Walking

Enjoy a better sex life, save money on medication, protect your brain and more—for free.
By Leah Zerbe

Sneak out for a walk on your lunch break; walk around the block during commercial breaks when you’re watching your favorite TV shows.

Walking is known to melt your thighs and perk up your bum. But its healthy resumé boasts some even more impressive accomplishments, from cash savings to increasing the odds of survival for breast cancer patients. A lot of attention has been paid to getting in 10,000 steps of walking, jogging, or running a day. A 40-minute, two-mile walk will chip away half of those steps, and everyday activities can usually accumulate the other half.

Here are eight reasons to take those extra steps and make walking a part of your healthy lifestyle:

# 1: It deflects diabetes. New research links brisk walking to a significant risk reduction for developing type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is a predictor of this disease, even in people with normal glucose levels. But a recent British study found that people with a family history of the disease who walked briskly, or performed some other type of moderate to vigorous activity on a routine basis, improved insulin sensitivity.

#2: It soups up your sex life. Sex and exercise go hand-in-hand. In a study of women between 45 and 55 years old, those who exercised, including brisk walking, reported not only greater sexual desire, but better sexual satisfaction, too.

#3: It saves you on gym costs. In this icky economy, people are cutting excesses, and that includes trips to the health club. In an American Heart Association survey, a quarter of the 1,000 people questioned had axed their gym memberships sometime in the previous six months. But no matter where you live, there’s a place you can pound the pavement or trek a trail to experience the benefits of walking, and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity walking a week can help manage stress and prevent heart disease. Moderate walking equals an average of about 100 steps per minute. San Diego State University researchers suggest using a pedometer and aiming for 1,000 steps in 10 minutes, and working up to 3,000 steps in 30 minutes.

#4: It can get you off meds. Using data from the National Walkers’ Health Study, including more than 32,000 women and 8,000 men, researchers found that those who took the longest weekly walks, not necessarily accumulated the most mileage per week, were more likely to use less medication. This shouldn’t deter you from taking shorter walks more frequently throughout the week, but you should consider squeezing in a longer walk once a week, perhaps on the weekend when you have more spare time.

#5: It can help fade fibromyalgia pain. This chronic condition affects more than 4 percent of the population, and often involves pain, fatigue, and brain fog. A small study found that in women 32 to 70 years old, those who walked 60 minutes, performed light exercises, and stretched three times a week for 18 weeks reported significant improvements in walking and mental capacity, and were less tired and depressed.

#6: It helps you beat breast cancer. Women who walk regularly after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a 45 percent greater chance of survival than those who are inactive, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Yale researchers heading up the study also found that those who exercised in the year before being diagnosed were 30 percent more likely to survive, compared to women who didn’t exercise leading up to their diagnosis.

#7: Strolling reduces stroke risk. Walking briskly for just 30 minutes, five days a week can significantly lower your risk of suffering a stroke, according to University of South Carolina researchers. After studying 46,000 men and 15,000 women over the course of 18 years, those with increased fitness levels associated with regular brisk walking had a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a stoke than those with the lowest fitness level.

#8: It can save your mind. Italian researchers enlisted 749 people suffering from memory problems in a study and measured their walking and other moderate activities, such as yard work. At the four-year follow-up, they found that those who expended the most energy walking had a 27 percent lower risk of developing dementia than the people who expended the least. This could be the result of physical activity’s role in increasing blood flow to the brain. 

source: Rodale.com