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Mushrooms May Reduce Risk of Cognitive Decline in Older Adults

Older adults who consume more than two servings of mushrooms each week may reduce their risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by 50 percent, according to a new 6-year study conducted by researchers from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

“This correlation is surprising and encouraging. It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline,” said Assistant Professor Lei Feng, who is from the NUS department of psychological medicine, and the lead author of this work.

The study used six types of mushrooms commonly consumed in Singapore: golden, oyster, shiitake and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms. However, researchers believe it is likely that other mushrooms would also have beneficial effects.

A serving was defined as three quarters of a cup of cooked mushrooms with an average weight of around 150 grams. Two servings would be equivalent to about half a plate. While the portion sizes act as a guideline, the study found that even one small serving of mushrooms a week may still help reduce chances of MCI.

MCI falls between the typical cognitive decline seen in normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. Older adults with MCI often exhibit some form of memory loss or forgetfulness and may also show declines in other types of cognitive function such as language, attention and visuospatial abilities.

These changes can be subtle, as they do not reflect the disabling cognitive deficits that can impact everyday life activities, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The research, which was conducted from 2011 to 2017, collected data from more than 600 Chinese seniors over the age of 60 living in Singapore. The findings are published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“People with MCI are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. So, what we had to determine in this study is whether these seniors had poorer performance on standard neuropsychologist tests than other people of the same age and education background,” Feng said.

mushrooms

As such, the researchers conducted extensive interviews which took into account demographic information, medical history, psychological factors, and dietary habits. A nurse measured blood pressure, weight, height, hand grip, and walking speed. The participants also completed a simple screen test on cognition, depression and anxiety.

Finally, a two-hour standard neuropsychological evaluation was performed, along with a dementia rating. The overall results of these tests were discussed in depth with psychiatrists to come to a diagnostic consensus.

The researchers believe the reason for the reduced prevalence of MCI in mushroom eaters may come down to a specific compound found in almost all varieties. “We’re very interested in a compound called ergothioneine (ET),” said Dr. Irwin Cheah, Senior Research Fellow at the NUS Department of Biochemistry.

“ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to synthesize on their own. But it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms.”

A previous study by the team on elderly Singaporeans revealed that plasma levels of ET in participants with MCI were significantly lower than age-matched healthy individuals. The findings led to the belief that an ET deficiency may be a risk factor for neurodegeneration, and increasing ET intake through mushroom consumption might possibly promote cognitive health.

The next step is to conduct a randomized controlled trial with the pure compound of ET and other plant-based ingredients, such as L-theanine and catechins from tea leaves, to determine the potential of such phytonutrients in delaying cognitive decline.

By Traci Pedersen    Associate News Editor
13 Mar 2019

Source: National University of Singapore
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Everything You Need to Know About Potassium

Potassium is one of the seven essential macrominerals. The human body requires at least 100 milligrams of potassium daily to support key processes.

A high potassium intake reduces the risk of overall mortality by 20 percent. It also decreases the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, protects against loss of muscle mass, preserves bone mineral density, and reduces the formation of kidney stones.

The primary functions of potassium in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.

This MNT Knowledge Center article provides an in-depth look at recommended intake of potassium, its possible health benefits, reliable sources of potassium, the effects of consuming too much or too little potassium, and any potential health risks of consuming potassium.

Fast facts on potassium

  • Adults should be consuming 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day. However, fewer than two percent of people in the U.S. consume enough potassium.
  • Potassium supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength.
  • Beet greens, white beans, soy beans, and lima beans are the foods highest in potassium.
  • Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, and constipation. It can escalate to paralysis, respiratory failure, and painful gut obstructions.
  • Hyperkalemia means that there is too much potassium in the blood, and this can also impact health.
  • Potassium is available in supplements, but dietary sources are most healthful.

Recommended intake

Potassium is a crucial nutrient, and a very small percent of people in the U.S. consume enough.
The Adequate Intake recommendation for potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day for adults. Most adults do not meet this recommendation.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) also reported that less than two percent of people in the U.S. meet the daily 4,700-mg potassium requirement. Women consume less potassium than men on average.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend an intake of 3,510 mg per day and agree that most of the global population is not meeting this recommendation.

Potassium supplements are available. However, it is best to obtain any vitamin or mineral through food. It is not individual vitamins or minerals that make certain foods important for healthful living, but the combined efforts of a range of nutrients.

Benefits

Potassium carries proven health benefits.

It is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure. Potassium is also important for maintaining the balance of acids and bases in the body. Bases are alkalis that have not yet dissolved in water.

Blood pressure and cardiovascular health

Low potassium intake has repeatedly been linked with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, but ensuring a good intake of potassium may be just as important.

An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium is crucial to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In one study, those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed about 1,000 mg per day.

Bone and muscle maintenance

Potassium-rich foods maintain an alkaline environment in the body, unlike in acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is triggered by a diet full of acidifying foods like meat, dairy products, and processed cereal grains. Acidosis is a common outcome of the typically acidic Western diet.

Acidosis can cause nitrogen excretion, loss in bone mineral density, and muscle wasting. A diet high in potassium can help preserve muscle mass in older people, as well as during conditions that tend to lead to muscle wasting, such as diabetic ketosis. However, a sufficient potassium intake can help prevent this.

One study found that participants that took in 5,266 milligrams of potassium per day maintained an average of 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than those with a potassium intake 50 percent lower. Some studies also show an increase in bone density with high potassium intake.

Foods high in potassium

White beans are among the most potassium-rich foods, as are many other types of bean.
Potassium is found in many whole, unprocessed foods.

Some of the best sources of potassium are fresh leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Processing greatly reduces the amount of dietary potassium. A diet high in processed foods is probably low in potassium.

Many processed foods are also high in sodium. As sodium consumption rises, increased potassium is needed to cancel out the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

Here is a table showing the nutritional benefit provided by one cup of the most potassium-rich foods.

Food type (1 cup)                     Amount of potassium provided in milligrams (mg)
Cooked, boiled, or drained beet greens, without salt 1,309
Canned white beans 1,189
Cooked, boiled, or drained soy beans, without salt 970
Cooked, boiled, or drained lima beans, without salt 969
Baked sweet potato 950
Sliced avocado 708
Cooked, boiled, or drained mushrooms, without salt 555
Sliced banana 537
Red, ripe, raw tomatoes 427
Raw cantaloupe melon 417

A good way to reduce the harmful effects of high-sodium meals is to eat a high-potassium fruit or vegetable with each meal.

There are many more sources of potassium outside of this list. Be sure to check the potassium content of any preferred foods using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database.

Deficiency

Potassium deficiency can cause a range of symptoms and health problems. It is also known as hypokalemia.

A normal potassium level is defined as between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Hypokalemia is diagnosed when potassium levels fall below 3.5 mmol/L. Mild potassium deficiency will generally not present with symptoms. A potassium level lower than 2.5 mmol/L is considered extremely deficient, and symptoms will become more severe as levels reduce.

Symptoms of low potassium levels include:

  • malaise and fatigue
  • weakness and muscle pain all over the body
  • constipation

Extremely low potassium levels can cause:

  • severe muscle weakness and paralysis
  • respiratory failure
  • painful obstructions in the gut
  • tingling, crawling, numb, or itchy sensations main felt in the hands, feet, legs, or arms
  • intermittent muscle spasms

Low potassium can be diagnosed using simple blood tests and treated by alterations to the diet, including supplements. Having regular medicals and health screenings will also help a person track their potassium levels and avoid any potential shortfalls.

Risks

Potassium can also cause health problems when a person consumes more than the 4,700 mg recommended Adequate Intake.

Individuals with good kidney function can efficiently rid the body of excess amounts of potassium in the urine. This process normally has no adverse side effects.

There have been a small number of reports that potassium toxicity is associated with an extremely high intake of potassium supplements. No food-related potassium toxicity has ever been reported.

Hyperkalemia

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people whose kidneys are not fully functional. Excessive potassium consumption can lead to hyperkalemia, in which the kidneys cannot remove enough potassium from the body. This can be dangerous if the condition escalates quickly.

Potassium levels between 5.1 and 6.0 mmol/L are considered high and warrant monitoring and management. Levels higher than 6.0 mmol/L are dangerous.

Hyperkalemia will mostly be either symptomless or present very few symptoms. However, when symptoms do present, they are similar to those that occur in hypokalemia.

Severe or sudden hyperkalemia can cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. At this stage, hyperkalemia can become a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Reducing potassium intake

Hyperkalemia is treated by reducing the intake of potassium.

Potassium and sodium are part of a constant balancing act within the body. Maintaining this balance is vital to the smooth function of bodily systems.

If hyperkalemia is suspected, it is best to avoid high-potassium foods, such as the ones listed above. Salt substitutes, herbal remedies, or supplements should also not be consumed. These can all boost potassium levels rather than balance them.

High potassium levels have been linked to two cases of cardiac arrest. If the kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, the effects of potassium on the heart could be fatal.

Takeaway

Potassium is vital to bodily function but does not hold the answers to healthful living on its own. Overall eating patterns and dietary balance are most important in bolstering health and keeping disease at bay.

Wed 10 January 2018 
By Megan Ware RDN LD
Reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD
yogurt

 

10 Foods Higher in Potassium Than a Banana

Surprise! Bananas deliver less than 10 percent of our daily dose of the mineral potassium, which protects against stroke and heart disease. Here’s how to get the rest.

Butternut squash

This sweet root vegetable tops bananas in the rankings of foods high in potassium, delivering 582 milligrams of the essential mineral in one cup, compared to 420 milligrams in a banana. According to the U.S. RDA, adults should aim to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.

Edamame

Soybeans are one of the top foods with potassium, packing in 676 mg per cup. Edamame beans are also one of the world’s best sources of plant-based protein because they contain all the essential micronutrients our bodies need to build muscle. Edamame are delicious roasted with a sprinkle of salt.

White and sweet potatoes

Fresh organic potato stand out among many large background potatoes in the market. Close-up potatoes texture.

A sweet potato contains 438 mg of potassium, while its cousin, the white potato, delivers a whopping 950 mg. Both types of tubers also come with high levels of vitamin A. People often confuse yams and sweet potatoes; for potassium, you’ll want to stick with sweet potatoes.

Swiss chard

Get 961 mg of potassium by cooking up a single cup of Swiss chard. Not only is it one of the foods high in potassium, but the leafy green is also packed with iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Foods with potassium aren’t the only ones you should be adding to your diet.

Beet greens

Another one of the foods high in potassium? Chop and roast just one cup of beet greens for a 655-mg dose. As a bonus, you’ll also get folate, manganese, and copper, not to mention dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6.

Tomato sauce

Not many people think of tomato sauce as one of the foods high in potassium, but topping your pizza, pasta, or vegetables with one cup of the stuff will get you 905 mg of the nutrient. Make sure to pick the perfect pasta shape to go with your tomato sauce.

Black beans

When you’re looking for foods high in potassium, black beans are a top choice, delivering a hefty 681 mg. This legume is also a great source of vegetarian protein and dietary fiber, plus a long list of other health boosters, including antioxidants, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.

White beans

Surprisingly, white beans are the best source of potassium you can get. Just one cup contains an impressive 1,190 mg of potassium, which is about one-fourth of the daily recommended amount. Similar to black beans, they also contain protein, fiber, and a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals.

Watermelon

Two slices of watermelon contain a whopping 640 mg of potassium. Plus, its star ingredient is lycopene, a plant pigment that has been known to reduce the risk of some cancers.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great source of calcium and delivers 380 mg of potassium per eight-ounce cup. Bring it over the banana threshold by adding one ounce of hazelnuts, which have 211 mg of potassium.

Morgan Cutolo
source: www.rd.com
Originally Published on Reader’s Digest


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Clean Eating Do’s and Don’ts

Clean eating may be the buzziest health term on the Internet. But what does it mean? Unfortunately, that’s not always clear.

At the core of this credo is the advice author Michael Pollan famously gave a decade ago in his best-selling book In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

And research shows that this kind of eating pattern can indeed improve health and help maintain a healthy weight. In 2014 David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Public Health, published a study that compared some of the most popular diets. Katz says that there’s not enough evidence to determine the best specific diet — and there likely never will be.

But Katz was able to determine which general eating pattern is best for health. That would be a “diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants.” And this pattern turns out to be compatible with any evidence-based diet plan, from paleo to Mediterranean to vegan.

Choosing fresh foods over packaged and processed foods improves your health because processed foods are more likely to have added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, as well as fewer quality nutrients. And eating mostly plant-based foods ensures a rich assortment of nutrients while reducing those harmful ones.

So why not fully embrace clean eating?

For one, there are a growing number of unsubstantiated fad diets touting the benefits of eating clean. “Most fad diets are untested,” says Traci Mann, professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota and the author of Secrets from the Eating Lab. “They’re just things people think up and put in books. They should probably go in the fiction section.”

“The term has been co-opted to mean things like cleanses and detoxes and a whole potpourri of dietary restrictions that are unfounded, unsubstantiated, and unlikely to do anyone any good,” Katz says. “As it’s currently used, the term means next to nothing.”

“But I think it could mean something,” adds Katz. It could be used to describe a diet of “minimally processed foods without added chemicals. Food close to nature, from sources that are raised well.” This concept of clean eating would be a helpful one, he says.

How to Make Clean Eating Work for You

Choose more fresh whole foods, especially plant-based. Plan your meals around lots of fresh fruits and vegetables; legumes (like beans and lentils); nuts; seeds; and whole grains. If you eat meat, choose high-quality lean meat, poultry, or fish. “I recommend strategies to eat more healthy food, rather than trying to focus on resisting unhealthy food,” says Mann. “Eat a vegetable before you have any other food on your plate. Once you put a vegetable in head-to-head competition with any other food, it tends to lose that contest.”

You’ll probably eat less of the other stuff if you start by eating more vegetables. Mann also recommends reducing barriers to healthy foods and adding barriers to unhealthy ones. For example, have a snack of carrot sticks peeled and ready to eat, and keep cookies or candy out of sight and out of mind.

Trade up your packaged foods. Try to avoid packaged and processed foods and meats, as much as possible. However, most of us do rely on at least some convenience foods, like cereal or a frozen meal now and then. So try to select versions with as little processing as you can, made with healthier ingredients.

“Start by trading up individual foods,” Katz says. “There’s a massive spectrum of quality in every aisle of the supermarket.” Look for those that use whole grains. Try to avoid items with ingredients that you can’t pronounce or that you haven’t heard of. Look for options with lower sugar, salt, and fat. And if you choose to eat meat, pick foods closer to their natural state, such as a heat-and-eat chicken breast, instead of frozen chicken nuggets. Likewise, bread made by your local baker is likely healthier than industrially packaged bread.

Cook at home. Restaurants aim to please and load their foods with sugar, fat, and salt. But when people cook for themselves, they often use fresh, wholesome ingredients and keep it simple. Research shows that people who cook most of their meals at home consume less fat and sugar and fewer total calories than those who don’t. They also make better choices when they do go out.

Enjoy your food and eat mindfully. Think about the food you eat and prepare for yourself. Consider where it comes from and how it makes you feel. Notice the color, texture, taste, and smell of your food. These mindfulness strategies can help you slow down your meal and eat less, while enjoying healthful food more. Mann’s lab found that drinking coffee mindfully helped subjects enjoy the natural flavors more, which in turn helped them cut way back on sugar.

Read-Nutrition-Labels

Skip These Unhelpful Clean Eating Fads

Avoid overly restrictive diets. Some of the most popular “clean eating” diets you’ll find online are extremely exclusive. The 30 Clean diet starts by banning all sweeteners, soy, dairy, grains, gluten, and corn, along with all processed foods. (It does allow for three small squares of dark chocolate and two alcoholic beverages a week — unless you opt for the Super Clean.) The Whole 30 allows you corn but eliminates the rest of those foods along with legumes. In practice, that means no fat-free yogurt, no brown rice, no sugar substitutes, no tofu — nary even a lentil. “The foods that are excluded are some of the most nutritious there are,” Katz says.

Research tells us that strict diets like this are difficult to keep. “They make your body think you’re starving to death,” says Mann. “And that leads to all these changes that make it hard to keep the weight off. Your metabolism changes. Suddenly you have to eat fewer calories to continue losing weight. Your hormones change, so you’re hungrier all the time,” she says. “And then there are the neurological effects where your attention becomes very focused on food.” This is why most people who do restrictive diets gain the weight back, and often more.

The Eat Clean Diet and Clean Eating Magazine guidelines are comparatively less restrictive, but they still eliminate flour, sugar, preservatives, and many other ingredients.

Stay clear of cleanses and detox diets. Clean Eating Magazine, 30 Clean, and The Eat Clean Diet’s author Tosca Reno all give tips for juice detoxes or cleanses, though there is no scientific evidence suggesting juice diets have any benefit. “Almost every claim I’ve ever seen about a cleanse or a detox is just confabulated nonsense,” says Katz. “The body is marvelously endowed with detox organs. They will take care of detoxing you better than you could hope to do out of a book by whoever the self-proclaimed guru du jour happens to be.”

Don’t do a diet that makes you feel guilty. Obsessing over the purest, cleanest foods, can make all other foods seem dirty. And that can be unhelpful. “Once you dichotomize your food into good/bad, virtuous/non-virtuous, that is problematic because that leads people to feel guilt or shame when they eat the bad category,” says Mann. That, she says, “can make you feel bad about yourself as a whole.” Clean eating diets tend to push for purity. The Whole 30 diet, for example, makes you start your 30-day challenge over if you cheat once.

We all want to eat better, but complicated fad diets may do more harm than good. Look for ways to make lasting improvements to your lifestyle, rather than temporary fixes. When it comes to clean eating, it might pay to remember Pollan’s words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Selected references:
D.L. Katz and S. Meller, “Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?”,  Annual Review of Public Health, March, 2014.
Julia A. Wolfson and Sara N. Bleich, “Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention?,” Public Health Nutrition, June, 2015.

By Kevin McCarthy | March 13, 2017  

source: www.rallyhealth.com

 


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9 Stay-Healthy Tips for the Holidays

Keep the focus on fun, not food

Most holidays are associated with certain foods. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s green been casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus. Instead, throw yourself into the other rituals a holiday brings, whether it’s caroling or tree trimming.

Modify your eating times so that they jive with your relatives’.

Do your in-laws’ meal schedules fly in the face of yours? Here’s how to compromise: Say they wake up later than you do and serve a late breakfast at 10:30. Then they skip lunch and serve Christmas ‘dinner’ at 3 p.m. To keep your blood sugar steady without overdoing it on calories, have an early-morning snack (such as a piece of whole-grain toast) before your relatives rise and shine. Their late breakfast will count as your ‘real’ breakfast, plus some of your lunch. Enjoy the 3 p.m. meal – but don’t overdo it! – and have a small snack at around 8 p.m.

Cut down your own Christmas tree.

Rather than buying a tree from a roadside lot where the trees have been drying out for weeks, visit a tree farm that allows you to cut your own. It will be fresher and probably less expensive than they are at the lot. You’ll burn off calories and combat some of the blood-sugar effects of the sugar cookie you snuck by traipsing around the grounds in search of just the right tree. And your family will have one more fond holiday memory to look back on.

Indulge in only the most special holiday treats.

Skip the store-bought cookies at Christmas, but do save some calories in your ‘budget’ to sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your wife’s special Yule log cake. Training yourself what to indulge in and what to skip is much like budgeting your mad money: Do you want to blow it on garbage that you can buy anywhere or on a very special, one-of-a-kind souvenir? Just don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually snap, and you’ll end up overeating.

Christmas_Tree

 

Make the change!

The habit: Staying physically active during the holidays.
The result: Gaining less weight over the years.
The proof: A study conducted by the U.S. government found adults gained, on average, more than a pound of body weight during the winter holidays – and that they were not at all likely to shed that weight the following year. (That may not sound like a lot now, but it means having to buy roomier pants after a few Christmases pass.) The good news is that the people who reported the most physical activity through the holiday season showed the least weight gain. Some even managed to lose weight.

Stock the freezer with healthy meals.

Everyone’s overly busy during the holidays, and most of us want to spend our time shopping, decorating, or seeing friends and family, which leaves less time to cook healthy meals. Take defensive action several weeks ahead of time by cooking meals intended specifically for the freezer. You’ll be thankful later when you can pop one of the meals into the oven or microwave and turn your attention instead to writing out holiday cards with a personal message in each.

Pour the gravy and sauces lightly.

You may not be able to control what’s being served at a holiday meal, but you can make the turkey, roast beef, and even mashed potatoes and stuffing much healthier by foregoing the sauce or gravy or spooning on just a small amount.

Take the focus off food and drinks this holiday season by embracing a project that will have lasting meaning: Organizing your family photos.

What household doesn’t have a mountain of snapshots that need to be sorted? Dispensing with this source of clutter will be stress relief in itself, but you also will get an emotional lift when you glimpse the photos again. (Plus, what better holiday gift to give yourself or someone you love than a gorgeous album filled with family memories?) If you don’t already have a photo organization system, try this: Find a shoebox or another box that’s the right width to accommodate snapshots. Use cardboard rectangles as dividers between categories of photos. (You can also buy photo boxes with these dividers.) Write a category label across the top of each divider (‘Martha,’ ‘Christmas,’ ‘Family,’ and ‘Pets,’ for instance). As you go through each envelope of photos, slide the very best into an album, file other photos you want to keep into the appropriate category in your shoebox, and throw out the rest.

Toast the new year with just one glass of bubbly.

You may be celebrating, but that doesn’t mean that that you should send your meal plan (and your judgment) on holiday. Alcohol can interfere with your blood sugar by slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream; it also contain a lot of calories – 89 calories per glass of white wine or champagne, 55 calories in a shot of vodka, and 170 calories in a pint of stout beer. What’s more, alcohol breaks down your inhibitions and judgment, which makes you that much less likely to resist the junk foods that you would otherwise be able to pass up.

Brenda Schmerl
source: www.rd.com


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Four Nutrients You Probably Need More Of

Chances are, you need to boost your intake of at least one or two nutrients. Even the most disciplined eaters can be, unknowingly, skipping out on key essentials, which can eventually drain energy and lead to health problems.

According to Health Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), conducted in 2004, many people’s diets don’t provide enough vitamins and minerals. (Results from the 2015 CCHS have yet to be released.)

Haphazard eating and an increased reliance on heavily processed foods can undermine your diet.

Certain eating plans can also shortchange your body of nutrients.

A low-carbohydrate diet (e.g., ketogenic, Atkins-style) can deprive you of gut-friendly fibre, vitamin C and folate, a B-vitamin that repairs DNA in cells. Gluten-free diets can lack fibre and folate, too.

Even if you do eat the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, you might need more. Aging and certain medications can interfere with nutrient absorption.

Sure, you can take a supplement to bridge nutrient gaps. And, in some cases, I recommend that you do.

Adding whole foods to your diet, though, should be your first line of defence. Along with vitamins and minerals, whole foods deliver fibre, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.

Nutrients to pay attention to

Vitamin A

It’s necessary for normal vision and immune function. Yet, according to Health Canada, more than one-third of Canadians don’t consume enough.

There are two types of vitamin A in foods: retinol, ready for the body to use, and carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Foods high in retinol include beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, tuna, milk and cheese.

It’s carotenoids, though, that many people need more of. In addition to providing vitamin A, research suggests that a higher intake can help guard against heart attack, stroke and certain cancers.

Outstanding sources include sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, collards, kale, dandelion greens and cantaloupe. You’ll absorb more carotenoids if you eat your meal with a little fat.

fruits veggies

Vitamin B12

As many as 35 per cent of Canadian adults don’t consume the daily recommended 2.4 mcg of B12, a nutrient needed to make red blood cells, repair DNA and keep our nerves working properly.

B12 is found primarily in animal foods – meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. Some foods are fortified with B12, including plant-based “milks” (1 mcg per cup) and soy products. Fortified nutritional yeast, sold in natural-food stores, is also high in B12.

If you’re over 50, you might be getting less B12 than you realize. The absorption of B12 from foods relies on an adequate release of stomach acid. As many as 30 per cent of older adults have atrophic gastritis, a condition that reduces the stomach’s ability to release acid.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), drugs used to treat ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease, interfere with B12 absorption by reducing stomach acid. Metformin, a medication that controls blood sugar, also reduces B12 absorption.

Older adults, vegans and people taking PPIs and metformin long-term should take multivitamin or B-complex supplements to ensure they’re meeting daily B12 requirements.

Vitamin C

More than one-third of our diets fall short of vitamin C, used to make collagen, help the immune system work properly and enhance iron absorption from plant foods. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage.

The recommended daily intake is 75 mg (women) and 90 mg (men). (Smokers need an extra 35 mg.)
Include at least two vitamin C-rich foods in your daily diet such as red and green bell peppers (152 mg and 95 mg per ½ medium, respectively), oranges (70 mg per 1 medium), kiwifruit (64 mg each), strawberries (98 mg per cup), cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and tomato juice.

To prevent chronic disease, some experts recommend a daily intake of 200 mg, an amount you can get by eating at least 5 daily servings (2.5 cups) of fruits and vegetables.

Magnesium

As many as 4 out of 10 Canadians consume too little magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and muscle and nerve function. That’s likely because some of the very best sources – pulses, leafy greens, bran cereal – are not everyday foods for many people.

Eating a diet high in magnesium is also tied to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and colon cancer.

Adults need 310-320 mg (women) and 400-420 mg (men) each day. Excellent sources include oat bran, brown rice, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, black beans, lentils, tofu and edamame.

People who are likely to take a proton pump inhibitor long-term should take a daily magnesium supplement (200 to 250 mg) in addition to eating magnesium-rich foods.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.

November 4, 2018      Leslie Beck


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Can Eating Organic Food Lower Your Cancer Risk?

In a study, those who ate more organic produce, dairy, meat and other products had 25 percent fewer cancer diagnoses over all, especially lymphoma and breast cancer.

People who buy organic food are usually convinced it’s better for their health, and they’re willing to pay dearly for it. But until now, evidence of the benefits of eating organic has been lacking.

Now a new French study that followed 70,000 adults, most of them women, for five years has reported that the most frequent consumers of organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers over all than those who never ate organic. Those who ate the most organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and other foods had a particularly steep drop in the incidence of lymphomas, and a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancers.

The magnitude of protection surprised the study authors. “We did expect to find a reduction, but the extent of the reduction is quite important,” said Julia Baudry, the study’s lead author and a researcher with the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cité of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. She noted the study does not prove an organic diet causes a reduction in cancers, but strongly suggests “that an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk.”

The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, was paid for entirely by public and government funds.

Nutrition experts from Harvard who wrote a commentary accompanying the study expressed caution, however, criticizing the researchers’ failure to test pesticide residue levels in participants in order to validate exposure levels. They called for more long-term government-funded studies to confirm the results.

“From a practical point of view, the results are still preliminary, and not sufficient to change dietary recommendations about cancer prevention,” said Dr. Frank B. Hu, one of the authors of the commentary and the chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He said it was more important for Americans to simply eat more fruits and vegetables, whether the produce is organic or not, if they want to prevent cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends consuming a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of refined grains and limited amounts of red meat, processed meat and added sugars.

Dr. Hu called for government bodies like the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Agriculture to fund research to evaluate the effects of an organic diet, saying there is “strong enough scientific rationale, and a high need from the public health point of view.”

The only other large study that has asked participants about organic food consumption with reference to cancer was a large British study from 2014. While it found a significantly lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among women who said they usually or always ate organic food, it also found a higher rate of breast cancers in the organic consumers — and no overall reduction in cancer risk.

The authors of that study, known as the Million Women study, said at the time that wealthier, more educated women in the study, who were more likely to purchase organic food, also had risk factors that increase the likelihood of having breast cancer, such as having fewer children and higher alcohol consumption.

foods to buy organic

The organic food market has been growing in recent years, both in Europe and the United States. Sales of organic food increased to $45.2 billion last year in the United States, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2018 survey.

For food to be certified organic by the Department of Agriculture, produce must be grown without the use of most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and may not contain genetically modified organisms. Meat must be produced by raising animals fed organic food without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Such items now represent 5.5 percent of all food sold in retail outlets, according to the organic trade group.

A representative of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a group that seeks to address public concerns about pesticides, said consumers should not worry about cancer risks from consuming conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables. “Decades of peer-reviewed nutritional studies largely conducted using conventionally grown produce have shown that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevents diseases, like cancer, and leads to a longer life,” executive director Teresa Thorne said in an emailed statement.

For the study, researchers recruited 68,946 volunteers who were 44, on average, when the study began. The vast majority, 78 percent, were women.

Participants provided detailed information about how frequently they consumed 16 different types of organic foods. The researchers asked about a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and soy products, meat, fish and eggs, as well as grains and legumes, bread and cereals, flour, oils and condiments, wine, coffee and teas, biscuits and chocolate and sugar, and even dietary supplements. Study volunteers provided three 24-hour records of their intake, including portion sizes, over a two-week period.

The information was far more detailed than that provided by participants in the British Million Women study, who responded to only a single question about how often they ate organic.

Participants in the French study also provided information about their general health status, their occupation, education, income and other details, like whether they smoked. Since people who eat organic food tend to be health-conscious and may benefit from other healthful behaviors, and also tend to have higher incomes and more years of education than those who don’t eat organic, the researchers made adjustments to account for differences in these characteristics, as well as such factors as physical activity, smoking, use of alcohol, a family history of cancer and weight.

Even after these adjustments, the most frequent consumers of organic food had 76 percent fewer lymphomas, with 86 percent fewer non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and a 34 percent reduction in breast cancers that develop after menopause.

The reductions in lymphomas may not be all that surprising. Epidemiological studies have consistently found a higher incidence of some lymphomas among people like farmers and farm workers who are exposed to certain pesticides through their work.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified three pesticides commonly used in farming — glyphosate, malathion and diazinon — as probable human carcinogens, and linked all three to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

One reason an organic diet may reduce breast cancer risk is because many pesticides are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen function, and hormones play a causal role in breast cancer.

By Roni Caryn Rabin     Oct. 23, 2018
 


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Fruit and Vegetables With The Most Water Content

Vegetables With The Most Water Content

Although most of our bodies are made of water, we still need a lot of it to survive on a daily basis. You probably have heard the story that you have to drink eight glasses (or more) of water per day in order to stay hydrated.

This is partly true if you do not take water in any other forms. In fact, 20% of your daily water intake comes from solid food, mostly fruits and vegetables. That’s why you should “eat your water” instead. Water maintains homeostasis in our bodies and it is of utmost importance that we stay hydrated.

Water deficiency is called dehydration and can cause serious headaches, confusion, appetite loss, excessive tiredness and even seizures. It is also bad for you to consume water in excess. You might experience nausea, vomiting, or muscle cramps.

The U.S. Reference Dietary Intake (RDI) of water is 3.7 liters (15.6 cups) daily for men and 2.7 liters (11.4 cups) for women. In the summer or in some extreme cases, these numbers are higher. Vegetables are an excellent source of water in every season and they often contain more than 90% water. Quench your thirst with these vegetables:

Cucumber 
Water content: 96.7%

Cucumber is many people’s summer favorite veggie. It contains the most water of any solid food and you may use it sliced in salads or with hummus. There are also many recipes on how to get hydrated with cucumber. You can try to blend it with mint, nonfat yogurt, and ice cubes to get a good chilled soup for the hot summer days, or at any time of the year.

Iceberg lettuce
Water content: 95.6%

Although not so popular among health experts, this vegetable is full of water. It is not a favorite one because of other green vegetables such as romaine lettuce or spinach, which contain a lot more fiber than iceberg lettuce. However, if you want to get hydrated, this crispy lettuce is the best choice because of the high amount of water. You can use it for making sandwiches, as a tacos wrap, or in burgers.

Celery 
Water content: 95.4%

You must have heard the popular saying that celery has negative calories, but let’s see what you are up for with this vegetable. It is a fact that celery comes with only 6 calories in one stalk and it is also full of fiber. In terms of its nutritional value, it contains folate as well as many vitamins, including A, C, and K. Celery can help in neutralizing stomach acid and relieve heartburn or reflux.

Radishes 
Water content: 95.3%

If you are a fan of a mixture of spicy and sweet taste in your spring and summer salads, radishes can brighten up your day and give you a new colorful meal. These vegetables are full of antioxidants including catechin (which can also be found in green tea). If you would like a crunchy hydration recipe, mix radishes with summer coleslaw, slicing them up with cabbage and carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped parsley and hazelnuts. Then use poppy seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and add salt and pepper. Enjoy this beautiful mixture!

Tomatoes 
Water content: 94.5%

These vegetables are mostly used for making salads and sandwiches, but it is important to use all of the varieties, including sweet cherry and grape ones, which will help you in the hydration process. You can also mix them with nuts as a snack or some cheese low in sodium. One idea of a recipe is the following: skewer some grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves on toothpicks as appetizers or snacks.

Green peppers 
Water content: 93.3%

These types of bell peppers have the highest amount of water and contain many antioxidants as the other types of peppers, such as the red and sweet ones. Peppers are great to use as a snack when you have a craving, instead of falling for something sweet and unhealthy. Plus, you will get hydrated and feel refreshed.

Cauliflower
Water content: 92.1%

This white flower-looking vegetable is full of vitamins and phytonutrients that help in fighting cancer, including breast cancer, and lowering cholesterol. Cauliflower is best used in your favorite salad, in order to make it crunchy and get hydrated.

Spinach 
Water content: 91.4%

Spinach is both green and full of water – a really healthy treat for your body. You can put it in your sandwiches or salads and enjoy its taste. Spinach is not only hydrating but also rich in lutein, fiber, potassium, and brain-boosting folate. One cup raw leaves of spinach can satisfy your daily intake of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals (damaging molecules).

 

fruit vegetables

 

Fruits with Highest Water Content

Water is as important as oxygen to lead a healthy life. Your body cannot function properly without enough water, which comprises 60 percent of your body weight. Water plays many crucial roles in the body, from detoxification to absorption of nutrients.

Health experts recommend drinking water throughout the day to keep the body hydrated. However, water is not the only way to keep the body hydrated.

Eating more water-rich fruits has other health benefits, too. Such fruits are low in calories and help with weight loss. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber that are important for good health. Water-rich fruits also help flush waste and toxins out of the body.

Aim to eat water-rich fruits with about 85 percent or higher water content. You can eat the fruits raw, or make smoothies or juices.

Eat 2 cups of fruits per day to provide your body with fluids.

Watermelon
Water content: 92%

Watermelon is one of the most water-rich fruits you can eat. It contains essential rehydration salts – calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium – that help keep the body hydrated and largely reduce the chance of dehydration.

According to a 2009 study by University of Aberdeen Medical School researchers, watermelon helps hydrate the body twice as effectively as a glass of water after an intense workout.

In addition, watermelon is a good source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and lycopene, which keep your body fit and healthy. Lycopene also protects the body from ultraviolet (UV) light.

You can eat watermelon as it is, or add it to your fruit salads and smoothies. You can even keep a water pitcher in the refrigerator with watermelon cubes in the bottom.

Strawberries
Water content: 92%

All berries are good foods for hydration, but strawberries are the best with 92 percent water. They also contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folic acid. The fiber in strawberries has a satiating effect, keeping you feeling full so you do not indulge in unnecessary snacking.

In addition, these berries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. Strawberries offer a wide range of health benefits, from anti-aging effects to supporting cardiovascular health.

Adults as well as children like their sweet, slightly tart flavor. Eat a handful of ripe strawberries daily as a healthy snack. You can also blend a few strawberries in your favorite smoothie.

In addition to strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries also have a high water content.

Grapefruit
Water content: 91%

This juicy, tangy fruit is also one of the most hydrating fruits with 91 percent water content. Grapefruit also contains important electrolytes that help prevent dehydration.

It is high in soluble fiber and vitamin C, and contains smaller amounts of vitamins A, B-complex, E and K. It also has calcium, folate, phosphorus, potassium and several phytonutrients.

Regular intake of grapefruit can lower your insulin level, help control your appetite, protect against the common cold, aid in weight loss, make your skin beautiful and lots more.

Try eating half a grapefruit at breakfast or drink a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice daily.

Note: This fruit may interact with certain medications like blood pressure medications and may not be suitable for women with hormone sensitive conditions.

Cantaloupe
Water content: 90%

Cantaloupe, also known as muskmelon or mush melon, is another high water content fruit with 90 percent water.

Cantaloupe also contains potassium, an important electrolyte that can be lost during sweating and cause dehydration. Other vital nutrients found in cantaloupe are vitamins A, C and K, protein, fiber, folate, calcium and iron.

Regular intake of cantaloupe reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while promoting healthy skin and hair. It also provides protection against a range of diseases and conditions from the common cold to cancer.

You can add some ice to fresh-squeezed cantaloupe juice for a refreshing drink in the summer. You can also use cantaloupe to make delicious cold soup or tasty smoothies.

Peaches
Water content: 88%

Peaches contain about 88 percent water content, making them a great solution to beat dehydration. Fresh peaches are juicy and taste great. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various other chemical contents.

Peaches contain vitamins A, C and K as well as fiber, potassium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.

At the same time, they are low in calories and contain no saturated fats. Peaches help fight obesity and prevent related diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

You can muddle ripe peaches into your glass of lemonade, iced tea or water to make a refreshing drink. Another option is to add sliced peaches to your oatmeal, yogurt and cold cereals.

Pineapple
Water content: 87%

Pineapple is another fruit with high water content. It has 87 percent water. It is a powerhouse of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, thiamin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, folate and fiber.

Pineapple also contains a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain that has many health benefits. Additionally, it is low in sodium and fat.

This fruit is both juicy and fleshy that helps keep your body hydrated and cleanses your body to get rid of harmful toxins. Moreover, pineapple boosts your immune system, improves digestion, promotes eye health and makes your bones strong.

You can have fresh pineapple juice or make yummy pineapple popsicles during the hot summer. You can also enjoy it as a fruit snack or add it to fruit salad, stir-fry and soups.