Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Health Benefits of Stevia, The Sugar Substitute

The Stevia plant with its ‘sweet leaf’ is a sugar substitute and also incredibly good for you. Unlike sugar, it doesn’t create an insulin response and actually nourishes the pancreas, which helps regulate blood sugar. The leaf is 30 times sweeter than sugar, while extracts are 300-400 times sweeter. This is good for the sugar addict as it will give sweetness without all the negative effects of sugar.

5 SWEET BENEFITS OF STEVIA

Excellent for Diabetics

Type 2 diabetic patients who took 1 gram of stevioside (present in the plant Stevia) with a meal had an 18 percent reduction in blood sugar according to this study. A study that compared Stevia, regular sugar and aspartame, showed that Stevia lowered blood sugar and insulin levels after a meal.

Note: Artificial sweeteners often raise your blood sugar levels even more than sugar.

Reduces Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Stevia has sterols and antioxidant compounds (kaempferol, quercetin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, isoquercitrin and isosteviol) in it and studies have found that kaempferol can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23 percent.

Helps Lower Bad Cholesterol and Increase Good Cholesterol

A study in 2009 found stevia helps lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Research also noted that the subjects had no adverse side effects from the Stevia on their health.

Breast Cancer Reduced

This 2012 study found that stevioside helped to decrease specific stress pathways that create breast cancer growth.

Great for Weight Loss

Stevia has no calories or carbohydrates.

Consuming added sugars has been shown to contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet. This high sugar intake has been linked to weight gain and adverse effects on blood sugar.

3 Extra Benefits:

 

  • Fights Cavities: The ‘sweet herb’ is antibacterial, and unlike sugar, it does not feed oral bacteria and is recommended by the National Center for Biotechnology Information to be helpful in preventing cavities. Stevia extracts were linked to less acidic plaque, which is good for cavity prevention.
  • Skin Care: The antibacterial properties help with acne. I have experienced a pimple disappearing soon after using stevia on it.
  • Fights Yeast Infections: Stevia does not feed candida or other yeast and is slightly antibacterial and anti-fungal.

 

Can One Be Allergic to Stevia?

The European Food Safety Committee after reviewing the Stevia literature stated that there was no cause for concern for allergic reactions to the Stevia plant. Also, the FDA declared that stevia was safe in foods and beverages.

Stevia Caution

Some Stevia extracts are so isolated that they have a bitter taste and so other artificial sweeteners have to be added.

Some commercial Stevias have been extracted solely with alcohol solvents (usually the white powder form). This alcohol solvent leaves the sweet taste of the Stevia but can take away some of the health benefits.

Highly processed “Stevia,” such as Truvia, is not real Stevia by the time it goes through refining. Chemical solvents are added during the refining process which includes acetonitrile, found to be toxic to the liver and a carcinogen.

By: Diana Herrington         April 17, 2017
Follow Diana at @DancinginLife


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The Truth About Nitrates

Have you ever wondered what nitrates are and what foods contain nitrates? Are nitrates linked to any health concerns? If you have questions about nitrates and their role in the food supply, read on to get the truth about nitrates.

What are nitrates?

Nitrates (or nitrites) are natural chemicals that are found in the soil, air and water. Nitrates are also used as a food additive to stop the growth of bacteria and to enhance the flavour and colour of foods.

Where are nitrates found?

Nitrates are naturally found in vegetables such as:

  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes and
  • Spinach

These foods provide the most nitrates in our diets. However, there is no recommendation to limit vegetables that naturally contain nitrates.

Smaller amounts are found in:

  • Dairy products like cheese
  • Beef
  • Poultry and
  • Fish

Nitrates are added to these foods to make their appearance and flavour more appealing.

Generally speaking, Canadian’s average daily intake of foods that contain nitrates is within safe limits.

What about nitrates and processed meat? 

Nitrates are added to processed meat like:

  • Deli meat/cold cuts
  • Ham/Bacon
  • Sausages
  • Hot dogs/Wieners

This is done to preserve the product and prevent bacteria from growing. Nitrates also give processed meats their pink colour.

Should I avoid processed meat?

Yes. There is strong research that shows a diet high in processed meats increases the risk of colon cancer. However, it is not yet clear if this is because of the nitrates or other compounds in processed meat. To decrease your risk of colon cancer, it is a good idea to eat very little processed meats or avoid them altogether.

deli-meat

Do organic foods have nitrates?

It depends on the food. Organic foods like vegetables and fruit typically have fewer nitrates compared to conventional foods.

However, processed organic meats do not have nitrates.  In Canada, adding nitrates to processed organic meats is not allowed. Read more about organic foods in Canada.

Tips on making nitrate-free food choices 

  • Avoid foods with ingredients like potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate.
  • Avoid foods with the words ‘cured’ or ‘smoked’ on the ingredient list. This means that the food may contain nitrates.
  • Avoid processed meat or have them once in awhile. Have a cooked ham during the holidays or an occasional hot dog in the summer.
  • Skip the bacon and sausage for breakfast and try fresh fruit or grilled vegetables with your eggs.
  • Stuck on lunch ideas? Think beyond the sandwich! Try a vegetable wrap with hummus instead of a deli sandwich.  Try other quick and easy lunch ideas for you and your kids.
  • Eat vegetarian more often. You might be surprised at how tasty it can be! Learn more about healthy vegetarian meals for you and your family.
  • Throwing a party? Avoid party sandwiches that use processed meats and instead try a variety of fresh salads with an assortment of flat breads and dips.

Bottom line 

Nitrates are naturally found in some vegetables, dairy products and meat. There is no recommendation to limit foods that naturally contain nitrates. Nitrates are also added to processed meats as a preservative. There is strong research that shows a diet high in processed meats increases the risk of colon cancer. However, it is not yet clear if this is because of the nitrates or other compounds in processed meat. To decrease your risk of colon cancer, it is a good idea to eat very little processed meats or avoid them altogether.

October 9, 2016
 

 

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Does the sodium nitrate in processed meat increase my risk of heart disease?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Sodium nitrate, a preservative that’s used in some processed meats, such as bacon, jerky and luncheon meats, could increase your heart disease risk.

It’s thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.

And you already know that most processed meats are high in sodium and some are high in saturated fat, which can disrupt a heart-healthy diet.

If you eat meat, it’s best to limit processed meat and instead choose lean, fresh meat and poultry, and keep serving sizes small. For greater heart health, consider going one step further and increasing the amount of seafood in your diet.

With Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
 


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A Gut Makeover for the New Year

If you’re making resolutions for a healthier new year, consider a gut makeover. Refashioning the community of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, could be a good long-term investment in your health.

Trillions of microbial cells inhabit the human body, outnumbering human cells by 10 to one according to some estimates, and growing evidence suggests that the rich array of intestinal microbiota helps us process nutrients in the foods we eat, bolsters the immune system and does all sorts of odd jobs that promote sound health. A diminished microbial ecosystem, on the other hand, is believed to have consequences that extend far beyond the intestinal tract, affecting everything from allergies and inflammation, metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, even mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Much of the composition of the microbiome is established early in life, shaped by forces like your genetics and whether you were breast-fed or bottle-fed. Microbial diversity may be further undermined by the typical high-calorie American diet, rich in sugar, meats and processed foods. But a new study in mice and people adds to evidence that suggests you can take steps to enrich your gut microbiota. Changing your diet to one containing a variety of plant-based foods, the new research suggests, may be crucial to achieving a healthier microbiome.

Altering your microbiome, however, may not be easy, and nobody knows how long it might take. That’s because the ecosystem already established in your gut determines how it absorbs and processes nutrients. So if the microbial community in your gut has been shaped by a daily diet of cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza, for example, it won’t respond as quickly to a healthy diet as a gut shaped by vegetables and fruits that has more varied microbiota to begin with.

“The nutritional value of food is influenced in part by the microbial community that encounters that food,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, the senior author of the new paper and director of the Center for Genome Science and Systems Biology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Nutritional components of a healthy diet have to be viewed from “the inside out,” he said, “not just the outside in.”

One of the questions the study set out to answer was how individuals with different diets respond when they try to improve their eating habits. The scientists harvested gut bacteria from humans, transplanted them into mice bred under sterile conditions, and then fed the mice either American-style or plant-based diets. The scientists then analyzed changes in the mice’s microbial communities.

Of interest, the scientists harvested the gut bacteria from people who followed sharply different diets. One group ate a fairly typical American diet, consuming about 3,000 calories a day, high in animal proteins with few fruits and vegetables. Some of their favorite foods were processed cheese, pepperoni and lunch meats.

love-your-gut

The other group consisted of people who were devotees of calorie restriction. They ate less than 1,800 calories a day and had meticulously tracked what they ate for at least two years, sticking to a mostly plant-based diet and consuming far less animal protein than the other group, a third fewer carbohydrates and only half the fat.

This calorie-restricted group, the researchers found, had a far richer and more diverse microbial community in the gut than those eating a typical American diet. They also carried several strains of “good” bacteria, known to promote health, that are unique to their plant-based diet. “Their choices as adults dramatically influenced their gut community,” said Nicholas W. Griffin of Washington University, the paper’s lead author.

The study, published in Cell Host & Microbe, is not the first to report findings suggesting dietary shifts can induce persistent changes in a gut microbial community, said Dr. David A. Relman, a professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, who was not involved in the current research. He noted that other studies had found even more profound effects.

After the human microbiota was transplanted into the mice, the mice got to eat either like typical Americans or like the calorie restrictors.

Mice that had a microbiota conditioned by the typical American diet had a weaker response to the plant-based diet. Their microbial communities didn’t increase and diversify as much. “They all responded in a predictable direction, but with not as great a magnitude,” said Dr. Griffin.

Another aspect of the study suggests the company you keep may also enrich your gut microbiota — at least in mice. At first the animals were kept in separate cages. Then, when they were housed together, the microbes from the communities conditioned by plant diets made their way into the American-diet microbiome.

It’s not clear how that translates to humans: Mice eat one another’s droppings when they live together, so they easily share the bacterial wealth. Still, it’s possible humans have other ways of sharing bacteria, Dr. Griffin said. “We know from previous work and other studies that spouses who live together will develop microbial communities that are similar to each other,” he said.

Perhaps the best way to cultivate a healthier microbiome is to eat more fiber by consuming more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts or seeds, said Meghan Jardine, a registered dietitian who was not involved in the current study but has published articles on promoting a healthy microbiota. (She is also affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which recommends a plant-based diet.) She urges people to aim for 40 to 50 grams of fiber daily, well above levels recommended by most dietary guidelines.

“When you look at populations that eat real food that’s high in fiber, and more plant-based foods, you’re going to see they have a more robust microbiota, with more genetic diversity, healthier species and fewer pathogenic bacteria living in the gut,” she said.

By RONI CARYN RABIN     DEC. 29, 2016


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4 Health Benefits of Cashews

Cashews have a sweet aroma and a delicious taste. They are delightfully crunchy yet have a buttery texture.

This explains why these crescent-shaped nuts are found in so many exotic cuisines around the world. They add flavor, texture and nutrition to stir-fries, salads and curries. Cashews have become the third most consumed nut in the world.

4 Health Benefits of Cashews

1. Helps as an Anti-diabetic
Cashew extract has been found to be effective as an anti-diabetic according to a study at the University of Montreal (Canada) and the Université de Yaoundé (Cameroun). Diabetes affects almost 220 million people in the world and has been found to provoke heart and kidney problems.

2. Nutrients in Cashews Assists Memory
Cashews are particularly high in the nutrient PS (Phosphatidylserine), which studies have shown to help with memory. In fact they have the highest amount of PS of any nut.

3. Good for Hearth Health
Cashes have a lower fat content than other nuts. Almost half of the fat in cashews is the heart-healthy kind which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Cashews are high in oleic acid which is the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health. Cashews are also cholesterol free.

Five large studies examined the relation between nut consumption (cashews included) and the risk of CHD (coronary heart disease). The results showed that nut consumption was associated with a positive reduction in CHD risk. Researchers say that this is strong scientific evidence that regular nut consumption is helpful for a healthy and balanced diet. In another study they found consuming nuts (included cashews) lessened the risk of cardiovascular disease in U.S. adults.

cashews

4. Cancer Chemoprevention With Nuts
There have been many studies highlighted in the Oxford Journals about nuts and cancer prevention. The researchers summarized by stating that an increase of nut consumption is associated with a lower cancer occurrence, and they suggest that nut consumption would be effective approach to prevent cancer.

See this chart showing the phytochemicals in certain nuts and how they help in preventing cancer.

Caution: Cashew Nut Allergy can be highly potent.
Allergic symptoms range from simple skin itching (hives) to potentially severe and even life-threatening (anaphylaxis). Other symptoms include breathing difficulty, pain abdomen, vomiting and diarrhea.

Cashew Nutrition
Cashews are lower in calories and in fat compared to most other nuts! They have more protein than most other nuts and much more phosphatidylserine, which is, as already mentioned, helpful for the memory. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, iron and rich in B vitamins.

Nutrient Cashew Database by USDA: 1/4 cup of cashews has approximately 196 calories, 5g of protein, 2mg Iron, 750mg copper (84% DV), 89mg

Don’t Be Scared of Weight Gain!

Surprisingly, it was found that adults who include nuts into their diets do not have to limit their consumption.  This is according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. There were 31 studies about people adding nuts to their diets by replacing other foods with nuts. These people lost an average of 1.4 pounds and reduced their waist sizes by more than half an inch. It was important that they replaced other foods and did not just add a lot more nuts.

Roasting cashews creates higher levels of nutrients than eating them raw.
The antioxidants in cashews are increased as the roasting temperature increased.
So let’s enjoy eating cashews!
Grab the occasional tasty handful or add them to your meals.

By: Diana Herrington       March 12, 2016       Follow Diana at @DancinginLife


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One in Three American Adults Not Getting Enough Sleep: CDC

ATLANTA | BY RICH MCKAY

Did you get enough sleep last night? If not, you are not alone.

More than one out of three American adults do not get enough sleep, according to a study released Thursday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That’s a big problem” says, Dr. Nancy Collop, director of the Emory Sleep Center at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who is familiar with the study.
“You don’t function as well, your ability to pay attention is reduced, and it can have serious, long term side effects. It can change your metabolism for the worse.”

At least seven hours of sleep is considered healthy for an adults aged 18 to 60, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

CDC analyzed data from a 2014 survey of 444,306 adults and found 65.2 percent of respondents reported getting that amount of sleep.

“Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, director of the CDC’s Division of Population Health, in a statement.

sleep

Getting less than seven hours a night is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and frequent mental distress, the study shows.

Conducted by the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the study is the first of its kind to look at all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The study found that among those most likely to get great sleep were married or have a job, with 67 percent and 65 percent respectively saying they get enough. Only 56 percent of divorced adults said they get enough sleep, and just over half of jobless adults sleep seven hours a night regularly.

Among the best sleepers were college graduates, with 72 percent reporting seven hours or more.

The study found geographical differences as well as ethnic disparities. Hawaiian residents get less sleep than those living in South Dakota, the study found. Non-Hispanic whites sleep better than non-Hispanic black residents, with 67 and 54 percent respectively.

(Editing by Karen Brooks and Cynthia Osterman)


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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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The Drink That Fights Depression

Sip this to stave off sadness

By AMANDA FIRST    MARCH 26, 2013

If you’re a java junkie—you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day—you’re about 10% less likely to be depressed than someone who has never stepped inside a Starbucks, says a new study from the National Institutes of Health and AARP. (Good news: Other studies suggest that just 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day may be enough to perk you up.)

Coffee’s benefits may not be due solely to its caffeine high, because depression protection doesn’t extend to all caffeinated drinks. (Cola was among the many sweetened beverages linked to a higher risk of depression, and drinks with artificial sweeteners were even more strongly linked.)

Coffee’s mood-lifting effect might be traced to its antioxidants, says lead researcher Honglei Chen, PhD, an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. So drink up: There’s also research that indicates regular coffee consumption delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and protects against type 2 diabetes.

 © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com © Johnfoto | Dreamstime.com Title: Coffee mug Description: Coffee mug on white background. Photo taken on: December 21st, 2010 * ID: * 17527982 * Level: * 3 * Views : * 252 * Downloads: * 17 * Model released: * NO * Content filtered: * NO Keywords (Report | Suggest) bean beverage breakfast cafe ceramic coffee cup drink handle hot mug relax

“Cup of joe” found to have more health benefits

Published on May 7, 2007 

According to a new study drinking coffee may offer protection from type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

These latest findings also suggest that the antioxidants present in coffee can also lower the risk of heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

Coffee contains hundreds of components including substantial amounts of chlorogenic acid, caffeine, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B3, trigonelline and lignans.

Chlorogenic acid has been shown in animal experiments to reduce glucose concentrations; coffee also contains tannin, which is beneficial for heart and arteries.

Researcher Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that coffee, if taken in moderate amounts, can actually prevent colon, liver and rectal cancer.

Other experts also believe that coffee reduces the amount of cholesterol, bile acid and natural sterol secretion in the colon which accelerates the passage of stools through the colon and cuts down the exposure of the lining of the intestine to potential carcinogens in food.

Recent research in Norway has found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day had a 28 percent reduced risk compared with people who drank two or fewer.

They also found that women who drank one to three cups a day reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24 percent compared with those drinking no coffee at all.

It is also suggested that coffee contains more antioxidants than a serving of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries and oranges.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and experts say the volume of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption may halve the risk of certain disease conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, kidney stones, gallstones, depression and even suicide.

In other research Dr. Lenore Arab, a nutritional epidemiologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, reviewed the latest epidemiologic literature on cancers and coffee.

Dr. Arab found almost 400 studies on the association between coffee consumption and cancers at various sites.

Dr. Arab says the evidence suggests there are two areas where there is some evidence of increased risk: leukemia and stomach cancer.

Experts do however warn that excess coffee intake is also linked to increased nervousness, rapid heartbeat and trembling hands.

Future research may well lead to the development or selection of coffee types with improved health effects.


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Why You Should Have Ginger Every Day

by Jonathan Galland   October 19, 2015

Ginger is a treasure in Asian cuisine, where it’s cherished for its unique ability to bring a touch of tanginess to dishes. Its distinctive lemony aroma and touch of spiciness can awaken the flavors of favorite recipes.

But ginger’s amazing role in cooking is just the start — the spice is also well-known for its many medicinal benefits. For centuries, ginger has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds, stomachaches, nausea, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea.

In traditional Chinese medicine, sliced or grated ginger is boiled in water as a soup to help fend off early signs of a cold. And it’s often the last resort for those who suffer motion sickness when pills won’t work. (A freshly cut ginger slice is either placed in the mouth or on the belly button with a Band-Aid.)

Right into the modern age, ginger is still the go-to herbal remedy for those who believe in natural healing.

And science is now catching up. Here are some of the research-backed revelations about the powerful benefits of this exotic spice:

1. It’s anti-inflammatory.

Ginger contains dozens of the most potent natural inflammation-fighting substances, like gingerols. The ability for food to reduce inflammation is important, as inflammation contributes to many chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes, pain, and heart disease.

2. It’s anti-aging.

Ginger also has powerful antioxidant effects. It raises levels of the master antioxidant glutathione in the body. And by fighting oxidative stress, ginger helps control the process of aging.

3. It reduces pain from exercise.

One study found that eating ginger before cycling reduced quadriceps muscle pain, likely thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects.

4. It assists with weight loss.

Research shows that ginger tea helps prevent metabolic disorders and reduces the feeling of hunger, meaning it plays a role in weight management.

ginger

5. It helps treat anemia.

Ginger and its bioactive components, such as gingerols and shogaols, stimulate the production of blood cells in the body and can improve anemia symptoms.

6. It can help manage diabetes.

One study showed that ginger can improve fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients. And scientists have discovered that combining honey and ginger reduces oxidative stress as well as the complications of diabetes.

This is especially important, given that the number of people with diabetes across the world is predicted to increase from 171 million in 2000 to 552 million by 2030.

7. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Since ancient times, natural compounds of ginger have been appreciated for their use in preventing various age-related ailments, including brain aging and neuro-degeneration. Recent studies have emphasized ginger’s benefits in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

8. It can ease symptoms of osteoarthritis.

In traditional Indonesian medicine, red ginger has been prescribed to relieve arthritis pain.

Now, an unprecedented study has found that topical ginger treatment using either a traditional manually prepared ginger compress or a standardized ginger patch could relieve symptoms for people with chronic osteoarthritis.

9. It can prevent liver disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common liver disease that’s quickly turning into an epidemic. Insulin resistance is a major feature in patients with NAFLD.

But research has shown that gingerols, the active component of ginger, could help improve insulin resistance, serving as a natural way to prevent NAFLD.

How to Spice Up Your Life with Ginger

Shop for whole ginger root in the vegetable aisle, looking for ginger that is firm to the touch and not wilted, dried out, or moldy. To use fresh ginger, remove the skin and cut a section of the yellow root. Finely chop the ginger, and it’s ready to use.

You can also make fresh ginger tea by adding finely chopped ginger to boiled water, letting it steep for two to three minutes, and then straining out the ginger.


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Experts Link Chemicals to Diabetes, Obesity

Sept. 28, 2015 – People who are trying to lose weight or manage diabetes should try to change their lifestyle not only to exercise or cut calories, but also to avoid chemicals that may be contributing to their condition, experts say.

“You may have a healthy meal, but if it’s in a plastic container, it’s leaching chemicals,” said Andrea Gore, PhD, a pharmacologist at the University of Texas at Austin in a webinar for reporters on Monday.

Gore is the chair of a task force that issued on Monday a new statement on the harm from hormone-disrupting chemicals. The statement, which is based on a review of more than 1,300 studies, says there’s convincing evidence to support a link between hundreds of hormone disruptors and several chronic health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Hormone-sensitive cancers in women (breast, endometrial, ovarian)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor brain development and brain function in young children

Researchers say the statement is significant because it comes from a group of doctors that treat people for hormone problems instead of scientists who study the effects of chemicals in animals or on cells.

Gore said the evidence for these effects is now strong enough that everyone should take steps to avoid chemicals that block or mimic the action of hormones in the body.

She also called on doctors who are treating patients for infertility to tell their patients to avoid hormone disruptors, which are known to decrease semen quality and interfere with how ovaries work. She said doctors who are counseling pregnant women and the parents of young children should also warn about chemical exposures.

“In particular, we’re worried about fetuses, infants, children, etc.,” she said, because exposure to the chemicals during development could set the stage for disease down the road.

Avoiding these kinds of chemicals is easier said than done, however, since no one knows how many of them exist or exactly how they’re being used. That’s because chemicals aren’t tested for safety before they used in products that are sold to consumers.

There are about 85,000 chemicals known to be used in the U.S. No one knows how many might disrupt hormones.

“Not all of them are EDCs [endocrine-disrupting chemicals], but if even 1% of them were EDCs, that would be 850 chemicals,” Gore said.

Some of the best-known hormone-disrupting chemicals include:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, which are used in some plastics, metal food cans, and cash register receipts
  • Phthalates, a class of chemicals that are used to soften plastic and also used in some perfumes, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics
  • Some pesticides, like DDT
  • Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical

receipt

“They act at very low doses,” she said.

The statement calls for better safety testing to determine which chemicals could pose problems, tighter regulation, and more research on the health effects.

Environmental health experts cheered the new statement.

“I’m thrilled,” said Richard Stahlhut, MD, a visiting research scientist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“The endocrinologists had to be the first ones on board, and fortunately, they are,” he said. “If they’re not on board, then maybe people like me are crazy,” said Stahlhut, who studies the hormone-disrupting effects of chemicals like BPA.

Chemical manufacturers said the statement went too far.

“The statement incorrectly characterizes as settled the still-unproven hypothesis regarding risks of low levels of exposure to particular chemicals. In doing so, the [Endocrine] Society discounts the extensive reviews by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority that were unable to substantiate the health significance of the so called low-dose effects,” said the American Chemistry Council in a statement.

“Furthermore, the Endocrine Society’s report fails to differentiate between chemicals that are ‘endocrine-active,’ meaning they interact with the endocrine system, and those that are ‘endocrine disruptors,’ meaning that the levels of exposure associated with that interaction cause scientifically-proven adverse health effects,” the statement said.

Some retailers and manufacturers aren’t waiting for the dust to settle on the chemical debate.

On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Target is expanding the list of chemicals it would ask suppliers to take out of their products. The expanded list will included nearly 600 chemicals on Health Canada’s roster of prohibited cosmetic ingredients. It will include triclosan, which is found in antibacterial soaps and some toothpastes.

Walmart also has a list of substances it asks retailers to avoid, though it doesn’t post the list publicly, Bloomberg reported.

Until more is known, Gore said consumers could reduce their exposure to known endocrine disruptors by avoiding bottled water in plastic bottles and being careful not to heat or microwave food in plastic containers.

Stahlhut said people who are concerned about chemical exposure should try to do the best they can, but because it’s impossible to avoid all potential exposures, to “Try to be Zen about it. Don’t drive yourself crazy.”

He said he tries to eat and drink out of stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic. He especially tries to avoid heating food in plastic. He said he tries to avoid chemicals in the nonstick coatings by cooking in cast-iron pans. And he steers clear of soaps and toothpaste with triclosan.

“Make the easy choices when you can. Make the harder choices when you can afford it,” he said.

By Brenda Goodman, MA        WebMD Health News      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES:
Andrea C. Gore, PhD, professor and Vacek Chair of Pharmacology, University of Texas at Austin; chair, Endocrine Society Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Austin, TX.
Richard Stahlhut, MD, visiting research scientist, University of Missouri-Columbia.
The Endocrine Society, Scientific Statement, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Sept. 28, 2015.
The American Chemistry Council.
Bloomberg News.

source:  WebMD


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5 Reasons to Love Cinnamon

November 21, 2014      By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Cinnamon is one of my feel-good foods. The scent reminds me of fall, my favorite time of year, and brings back memories of making apple pies with my mom, and celebrating the holidays.

While I’ve always been a fan of its flavor and aroma, as a nutritionist, I’m also thrilled to spread the news about cinnamon’s health benefits. For example, one teaspoon of cinnamon packs as much antioxidant potency as a half cup of blueberries, and cinnamon’s natural antimicrobial properties have been shown to fight strains of E. coli, as well as Candida yeast. Also, while technically not sweet, “sweet spices” like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger have been shown to boost satiety and mimic sweetness, which allows you to cut back on sugar in nearly anything, from your morning cup of Joe to a batch of homemade muffins.

Pretty impressive, but that’s not all.
Here are five more potential health benefits of spicing things up!

Better heart health
In a recent study from Penn State, researchers found that a diet rich in spices, like cinnamon and turmeric, helped curb the negative effects of downing a fatty meal. After a high-fat meal, levels of fats in your blood known as triglycerides rise, and chronically high triglycerides raise the risk of heart disease. In this small study (in just six overweight but otherwise healthy men between 30 and 65) the results of adding spices were significant. On two separate days, volunteers added two tablespoons of spices, including cinnamon, to a fatty meal, which was tested against an identical control meal without spices. Blood samples drawn after meals revealed that in addition to 13% higher blood antioxidant levels, the spices reduced triglycerides by about 30%.

Blood sugar regulation
In research led by U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists found that antioxidant-rich cinnamon extract helped reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease. In the study, 22 obese volunteers with prediabetes were divided randomly into two groups. One was given a placebo, the other a dose of dried water-soluble cinnamon extract twice a day, along with their usual diets. Fasting blood samples collected at the beginning of the study, and after six and 12 weeks revealed that the cinnamon extract improved antioxidant status, and helped reduce blood sugar levels.

Diabetes protection
Cinnamon has been shown to slow stomach emptying, which curbs the sharp rise in blood sugar following meals, and improves the effectiveness, or sensitivity of insulin. A University of Georgia study also found that cinnamon can prevent tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar. When blood sugar levels are high, sugar bonds with proteins to form compounds called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. AGEs activate the immune system, which triggers the inflammation and tissue damage associated with aging and diabetes. In the study, researchers found a strong and direct link between the antioxidant content of common herbs and spices, including cinnamon, and their ability to prevent AGEs from forming. This effect also further decrease the risk of heart damage, since AGEs contribute to hardening of the arteries.

cinnamon

Better brain function
Research shows that just smelling cinnamon enhances cognitive processing, but consuming it significantly ups brain function. Scientists at Wheeling Jesuit University asked volunteers to complete computer-based tasks while chewing no gum, plain gum, or gum flavored with cinnamon, peppermint, or jasmine. Cognitive processing was boosted the most in those given cinnamon, which sped up visual-motor responses and improved attention scores. This aromatic spice may also help the brain heal. One study from scientists at the Agricultural Research Service found that cinnamon extract prevented brain cells from swelling in the ways typically seen after a traumatic brain injury or stroke.

Parkinson’s protection
In animal research supported by grants from National Institutes of Health, scientists found that after ground cinnamon is ingested, it’s metabolized into a substance called sodium benzoate, which enters into the brain. In mice with Parkinson’s, the positive effects included neuron protection, normalized levels of neurotransmitters, and improved motor functions.

Plus, 10 ways to use it
To take advantage of cinnamon’s potential benefits, incorporate it into more meals. One of the things I love about this spice is how versatile it is. I use it in both sweet and savory dishes, and I feel like I’m always finding new ways to add it to meals, snacks, and beverages. Here are 10 easy ideas:

  • Sprinkle cinnamon into your coffee, or add it to your coffee grounds before brewing.
  • Add a dash or two of cinnamon to hot oatmeal, overnight oats, or cold whole grain cereal.
  • Fold cinnamon into yogurt, along with cooked, chilled quinoa, fresh cut fruit, and nuts or seeds.
  • Freeze cinnamon in ice cubes to add zest and aroma to water or cocktails.
  • Season roasted or grilled fruit with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Stir cinnamon into almond butter, or any nut or seed butter, and use as a dip for fresh apple or pear wedges or a filling for celery.
  • Add a pinch of cinnamon to lentil or black bean soup, or vegetarian chili.
  • Season roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, spaghetti, and butternut squash with a pinch of cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle a little cinnamon onto popped popcorn.
  • Stir a little cinnamon into melted dark chocolate and drizzle over whole nuts to make spicy ‘bark’ or use as a dip or coating for fresh fruit.

NOTE: While cinnamon is healthful, just be sure not to overdo it. Don’t take cinnamon supplements unless they have been prescribed by your physician, and check out this info from the National Library of Medicine about the potential risks for some of consuming too much cinnamon.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.