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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Eating Peppers Tied to Lower Parkinson’s Risk

Vegetables that contain nicotine may offer some protection, research suggests
Learn to read food labels closely, he advises.

By Robert Preidt   HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) – Eating vegetables that naturally contain nicotine, such as peppers and tomatoes, may reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.

Previous research has found that smoking and other types of tobacco use are associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and it is believed that nicotine provides the protective effect. Tobacco belongs to a plant family called Solanaceae and some plants in this family are edible sources of nicotine.

This new study included nearly 500 people who were newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s and another 650 unrelated people who did not have the neurological disorder, which is typically marked by tremors and other movement problems. The study participants provided information about their tobacco use and diets.

In general, vegetable consumption had no effect on Parkinson’s risk. The more vegetables from the Solanaceae plant family that people ate, however, the lower their risk of Parkinson’s disease. This association was strongest for peppers, according to the study, which was published May 9 in the journal Annals of Neurology.

The apparent protection offered by Solanaceae vegetables occurred mainly in people with little or no prior use of tobacco, which contains much more nicotine than the foods included in the study.

“Our study is the first to investigate dietary nicotine and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Susan Searles Nielsen, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a journal news release. “Similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson’s, our findings also suggest a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco.”

Nielsen and her colleagues recommended further studies to confirm and extend their findings, which could lead to ways to prevent Parkinson’s disease.


Although the study found an association between consumption of certain nicotine-containing foods and lower risk of Parkinson’s, it could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, one Parkinson’s expert called the study “intriguing.”

“It provides further evidence of how diet can influence our susceptibility to neurological disease – specifically Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Kelly Changizi, co-director of the Center for Neuromodulation at the Mount Sinai Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center in New York City. “Patients often ask what role nutrition plays in their disease, so it’s very interesting that nicotine in vegetables such as peppers may be neuroprotective.”

Another expert said more research into the role of nicotine in Parkinson’s disease is already underway.

“The observation that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk for Parkinson’s disease has long been known, and has raised the idea that nicotine may reduce the risk for [the illness],” said Dr. Andrew Feigin, who is investigating the illness at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

“A nicotine skin patch is currently being tested in patients with early Parkinson’s disease,” he said.

The illness occurs due to a loss of brain cells that produce a chemical messenger called dopamine. The symptoms of the disease include loss of balance, slower movement and tremors and stiffness in the face and limbs. There is currently no cure for the disorder. Nearly 1 million Americans – and 10 million people worldwide – have Parkinson’s, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

source: webmd.com       HealthDay


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9 Incredible Health Benefits of Bell Peppers

Shubhra Krishan    March 23, 2013

I simply love bell peppers, particularly the brightly colored ones.  Although they belong to the chili pepper family, bell peppers are mild and can jazz up a salad in an instant, lend a perky crunch to your pizza, and taste fantastic when roasted.

But the appeal of bell peppers goes way beyond their stunning good looks. Here’s a short list of the good things they can do for your health:

Bell peppers are low in calories! So, even if you eat 1 full cup of them, you get just about 45 calories. Bonus: that one cup will give you more than your daily quota of Vitamin A and C!

They contain plenty of vitamin C, which powers up your immune system and keeps skin youthful.  The highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety.

Red bell peppers contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids,  particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.


The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits. Studies show that it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.

If cooked for a short period on low heat,  bell peppers retain most of their sweet, almost fruity flavor and flavonoid content, which is a powerful nutrient.

The sulfur content in bell peppers makes them play a protective role in certain types of cancers.

The bell pepper is a good source of Vitamin E, which is known to play a key role in keeping skin and hair looking youthful.

Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.

Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein  protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

So, pop some bell peppers into your shopping basket, and start reaping their rich health benefits!


source: care2.com


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7 foods that fight fat

By Maridel Reyes, Health.com
October 12, 2012 

(Health.com) – Get excited: You can burn calories and combat fat by eating yummy food.
“If you choose the right picks, studies show you can torch up to 300 extra calories a day,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of “The Hunger Fix.”

Whole, unrefined foods are your heroes. Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed ones, so you’re zapping more calories — and storing less as fat. These recipes double up (even triple up) on foods with serious metabolism-boosting power. Take that, dastardly fat!

Salmon
What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle — and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).

Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.

Yogurt
Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body’s more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.

With up to 50% more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.

Go for: At least two servings a day.

Avocado
For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado’s unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado’s 14 grams of fiber kicks up your calorie burn.

Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.

Beans
High in resistant starch and fiber, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.

Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch — it’s also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas — you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24% over the course of the day.

Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.

Chili peppers
Feel the burn? It’s more than mere sensation: chilies’ heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.

Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones — habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers — are too fiery for many people.)

Green tea
This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.

Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).

Coffee
You use it to wake up — and your metabolism will, too.

The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilize the forces that burn stored fat.

Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.

source: CNN


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Vitamin-packed foods help you fight disease

MCCLATCHY / TIMES COLONIST    JANUARY 25, 2013
BARBARA QUINN            The Monterey County Herald

“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill, if you don’t eat it,” said Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937.

He understood what we now know: Deficiencies of vitamins and other vital nutrients can cause us to fall prey to illness.

So do our food choices really influence how susceptible we are to sickness? You bet your sweet pepper they do.

Specific nutrients in foods have been shown to enhance the body’s ability to keep us well. Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other nutrition experts:

=> Protein: It’s what immune cells are made of. Sources of immune-building protein include lean beef, pork and poultry, fish, eggs, beans and soy-based foods.

=> Vitamin A: Ever wonder why moms used to dose their darlings with cod liver oil to keep them healthy? Among other components, cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin A — a nutrient that helps maintain the cells that line our intestines and lungs. These “mucosal” cells are the sentries that guard our body from foreign invaders.

Carrots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and red bell peppers are good sources of vitamin A (or beta-carotene which safely converts to vitamin A in the body.)


=> Vitamin C: Although scientists still don’t understand the exact way that vitamin C works to boost immune function, we do know this essential vitamin plays an important role in healing wounds and strengthening our resistance to disease. Vitamin C also helps form antibodies that fight off infection.

Since this essential nutrient is easily destroyed by air, heat and prolonged storage, we are smart to eat at least one high vitamin C food each day.

Sources include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

=> Zinc: Like an army that relies on a continual renewal of supplies and soldiers, our immune system relies on zinc to consistently renew disease-fighting cells. And since zinc in food is bound to protein, it makes sense that good sources include oysters, beef, pork, and liver as well as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

Interestingly, zinc has been called “the essential toxin” because — although it is required for optimal health — excessive intake can actually impair immune function.

=> Vitamin E: Given its antioxidant ability to neutralize free radicals, vitamin E keeps the machinery of the immune system functioning at capacity. Good sources include nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Wheat germ is an especially good source of vitamin E.

What about supplements of vitamins and minerals? If we don’t happen to eat a varied diet for any reason, we could be missing out on essential vitamins and trace minerals that could compromise our ability to ward off sickness, say nutrition experts.

Whether or not to take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement is a discussion worth having with your health provider.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
Email her at bquinn@chomp.org.


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5 Foods to Eat When You’re Feeling Tired

Shubhra Krishan   November 23, 2012

A bowl of oats: The high dietary fiber content in oats helps you feel full longer, preventing overeating throughout the day, which can lead to weight gain, sluggishness, and fatigue.There’s more: oatmeal contains B1, the vitamin that is known to fight fatigue.
A handful of walnuts: if you’re feeling blue, munching on walnuts can boost your spirits. This wonder nut contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to fight symptoms of depression.
Whole wheat toast: the complex carbs in it give you the energy boost you need, without disturbing blood sugar levels.

Oranges or bell peppers: the Vitaminc C family can instantly inject freshness into your body and mind. That’s because this wonderful vitamin helps reduce cortisol—the hormone responsible for stress and energy slumps. Just one cup of sliced red bell pepper meets twice your daily required quota of Vitamin C!
A cup of creamy Greek yogurt: it’s simple. If your digestive system is out of gear, you’re going to feel whacked. That’s where yogurt comes in. The friendly bacteria in it do a fabulous job of regulating your digestion. The result: you have more energy, which lasts longer because yogurt has more protein than carbs. Try to get about 8 ounces of yogurt daily. You will feel relief from chronic fatigue within a week or so.
source: care2.com


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Eat your vitamins: 10 foods to add to your diet to get your daily dose

By Heather Camlot

Vitamins play an essential role in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, but convenience has made it as simple as popping a pill for us to consume them. Here are 10 foods that are guaranteed to bring you your daily dose of vitamins — the natural way.

I no longer know her name or her whereabouts, but I clearly remember one thing about a colleague I met at my first magazine job almost 15 years ago: she never ate. At least, I never saw her eat. The only thing I ever saw her pop into her mouth were handfuls of vitamins and supplements.

“Supplements are not meant to replace a healthy diet,” says Stephanie Langdon, a registered dietitian and the owner of Something Nutrishus Counselling and Coaching in Saskatoon. “And taking large amounts of certain vitamins and minerals can be dangerous.”

Some people need to take supplements at certain points in their lives. This includes people over the age of 50, women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or thinking of trying to get pregnant, and those who have certain allergies, medical conditions or food restrictions, including vegetarians and vegans. For everyone else, however, food is the key to good health.

“The energy your body needs every day for work and play comes from calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat,” explains Langdon. “Food also contains fibre, phytochemicals and antioxidants, and has all the nutrients working together.”

All you have to do to get the proper vitamins and nutrients is to eat a varied and balanced diet, with special consideration for the following superfoods.

10 amazing foods to add to your diet

Sweet red peppers and kiwis
Oranges may get all the vitamin C glory, but plenty of other fruits and vegetables are even more power-packed with calcium: 1/2 cup (125 mL) of raw sweet red pepper contains 144 milligrams (mg) and one large kiwi contains 84 mg, while a medium orange provides 59 to 83 mg of calcium.

Vitamin C is needed to help grow and repair bones, teeth, skin and other tissues, to protect cells from damage and to maintain a strong immune system, explains Langdon. Aim for 75 mg of vitamin C per day or 85 mg if you’re pregnant and 120 mg if you’re breast-feeding.

Salmon
Fish and seafood are great sources of protein and also of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, two essential fatty acids that are not found in many foods. It only takes two 75-gram (2.5 ounce) servings of these heart-healthy omega-3s per week to meet your requirement.



Fish and seafood are also high in selenium, an antioxidant that prevents cell damage and keeps your thyroid and immune system in top shape. Aim for 55 mg of selenium per day or 60 mg if you’re pregnant and 70 mg if you’re breast-feeding. A 75 gram (2.5 ounce) serving of canned tuna delivers 45 to 60 mg of selenium.


Low-fat milk and fortified yogurt
It’s well known that calcium builds strong bones and teeth, but did you know that it is also important for a normalized heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve function? Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and protects against infections. One cup (250 millilitres [mL]) of milk provides 300 mg of calcium and about 100 international units (IU) of vitamin D. Aim for 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D per day.

Legumes
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat them the more you…” There really is something to the childhood rhyme. Beans are good for your heart because they’re packed with folate, a water-soluble B vitamin that helps create red blood cells, stave off anemia and prevent some birth defects.

Women should aim for 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate per day or 600 mcg if pregnant and 500 mcg if breast-feeding. A 3/4-cup (175 mL) serving of cooked lentils provides 265 mcg of folate. Beans and legumes are also high in protein and fibre. 
  
Berries
Berries are high in vitamin C, folate and antioxidant flavonoids, which help protect cells from damage. They’re also a delicious source of fibre, which aids in weight control, lowers blood cholesterol levels and keeps you regular. A 1/2 cup (125 mL) serving of berries has about 4 g of fibre. Aim for at least 21 to 29 g of fibre per day.

Greens
Kale, collard greens, bok choy, broccoli – the list of nutrient-dense greens goes on and on. Along with a healthy helping of vitamin C, greens are a great source of carotenoids, which may reduce the risk of eye disease, some cancers and heart disease by acting as antioxidants, explains Langdon.

Dark, leafy greens are also high in vitamin K, which is necessary for healing wounds, maintaining blood vessels and keeping bones healthy.

Sweet potato and pumpkin
While vitamin A can be found in liver, dairy products and fish, orange vegetables hold their own with 1,096 mcg of vitamin A in one medium-size sweet potato and 1,007 mcg in 1/2 cup (125 mL) of canned pumpkin. Vitamin A is important for good vision, healthy skin and a strong immune system. Aim for 700 mcg of vitamin A per day or 770 mcg if you’re pregnant and 1,300 mcg if you’re breast-feeding.

Of course, the easiest way to track healthy eating is by following Canada’s Food Guide. Women 19 to 50 years of age should aim for 7 to 8 vegetables and fruits, 6 to 7 grain products, 2 servings of milk and alternatives, 2 servings of meat and alternatives, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of unsaturated oils and fats per day.