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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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17 Food Combinations that Can Boost Your Health

Hard boiled egg + salad
Out of all the numerous topping options at the salad bar, pick up a hard boiled egg. The fat in the egg yolk helps your body best absorb carotenoids, disease-busting antioxidants found in veggies, according to 2015 research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Count it as one more reason you should definitely eat the yolks.

Fries + veggies
You don’t want to have to choose between the steamed veggie or fries as a side. Why not get them both? Pairing a nutritious and less-nutritious food choice (officially called a ‘vice-virtue bundle’) can help you stick to your health goals, suggests research in the journal Management Science. One tip to balance the calories—keep your portion of fries/dessert/onion rings small or medium, suggest researchers. If you can order only one size and it’s jumbo, ask for half to be packed upie immediately in a to-go box—or portion out half the plate for a companion. The researchers found that people didn’t actually want to eat enormous piles of treats anyway.

Marinade + steak
Grilling is a quick and healthy way to get dinner on the table, no doubt. However, cooking meat at high temps (a la grilling) creates potentially cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The delicious solution: marinate your meat. Especially when you use certain herbs and spices in your marinade, including rosemary, it can reduce HCAs by up to 88 percent, according to a study from Kansas State University.

Olive oil + kale
Even though the buzz around heart-healthy fats like olive oil is good, you may still be trying to cut down on oil in an effort to save calories. But it’s time to start sauteeing your veggies again. ‘Vegetables have many fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, which means they need fat to be absorbed,’ explains culinary nutrition expert and healthy living blogger Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, of Nutritioulicious. In addition to kale, make sure you cook carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli with a little fat too.

Almonds + yogurt
Vitamin D is credited with so many health benefits, including boosting your bones, mood, and immune function. Many yogurts supply one-quarter your daily need for D per cup. To make the most of it though, toss some slivered almonds on top before digging in—especially if you’re eating non- or low-fat yogurt. The fat in the nuts helps raise the levels of D found in your blood 32 percent more compared to having no fat at all, reveals research in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Sardines + spinach
The fatty fish is abundant in vitamin D, while spinach offers magnesium. In 2013 research, magnesium was shown to interact with the vitamin to boost levels of D in your body. Long-term, this may even help reduce risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

Turmeric + black pepper
You’ve no doubt heard the buzz around the anti-cancer properties of curcumin, the molecule in turmeric that gives the spice its yellow hue. Problem is, it can be difficult for your body to absorb and truly reap the benefits. Combining turmeric with black pepper—which isn’t hard to do in cooking—is a great way to up your body’s ability to use it by 2,000 percent, research shows.

Avocado + toast
If you’re participating in ‘Toast Tuesdays,’ you might have tried the much-obsessed over avocado toast. And it is delicious, FYI. The foods are a perfect match not just for their taste but because the fat from the avocado will slow the rate at which carbs are broken down, absorbed, and converted into sugar, points out Levinson. It’s simple: just spread avocado on whole grain toast and top with some sea salt and pepper (and even lemon juice or hot sauce) and you’re good to go. Add a fried egg for an extra protein boost.

avocado toast

Tomato sauce + spinach
Might as well pack more veggies into the sauce, right? Spinach contains iron, something you may need more of if you’re not eating meat (which is the most abundant source of the mineral). The catch? Iron is not easily absorbed from plant sources, so to tip the scales in your favor, you need to eat these plants with a source of vitamin C, according to Levinson. In this case, tomatoes provide the kick of vitamin C you need to best absorb your spinach. Try her recipe for tomato sauce with spinach, or opt for these other power duos: spinach salad with strawberries, beans and bell peppers, or tofu and broccoli.

Brown rice + lentils
If you’re vegetarian, you may have heard that you should eat certain foods together to ensure you’re getting a complete protein. It’s actually more important that you get a variety of plant proteins throughout the day rather than in one specific meal, says Levinson. Still, some combos are classics for a reason—together, they form a complete protein. Try a brown rice and lentil bowl, beans wrapped in corn tortillas, or nut butter slathered on whole grain bread.

Salmon + leafy greens
Greens to the rescue once more! Vitamin D and calcium are typically found together in dairy, and for good reason: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, both of which are critical for bone health, points out Levinson. But if you don’t eat milk or yogurt, what do you do? Buy  salmon and eat it atop a bed of cooked greens of your choice (sauteeing them cooks them down, making it easier to eat a bigger serving).

Brown rice + garlic + onion
Here’s a reason to make a stir-fry tonight: Garlic and onion help increase the availability of iron and zinc in whole grains, according to Levinson. You can thank the sulfur-containing compounds within the stinky alliums (garlic and onion) for the mineral boost, say researchers.

Carbonation + water
Think we’re getting one by you? If you have trouble getting yourself to drink plain H20, hear us out about why bubbles and water make an ideal match. One German study found that people who made carbonated water at home (think SodaStream), drank more water than those who didn’t—and bonus!—consumed less fat during the day, too.

Red wine + black pepper
The spice does it again. Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which may help improve the bioavailability of resveratrol (the disease-busting antioxidant in red wine) to tissues, suggests an animal study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. While it doesn’t seem like a natural pairing, simply drink a glass of vino with dinner, and keep the pepper mill handy. Bon appetit!

Green tea + lemon
When you give your cup a squirt of citrus, the vitamin C preserves green tea’s antioxidant catechins, helping them survive the harrowing journey through your digestive tract to where your body can absorb them—so you can reap the benefits from the brew—reveals Purdue University research.

Guacamole + salsa
Pass the chips, please. This is another perfect example of how the antioxidants in certain produce, like tomatoes, need a little fat in order to be absorbed. In fact, a study in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating avocado with salsa improved the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene in the tomatoes by 4.4 and 2.6 times, respectively. It’s the perfect excuse to go for Mexican tonight.

Pistachios + raisins
When you think about it, trail mix makes lots of sense. Eating dried fruit and nuts together can help improve your metabolic health to help decrease your diabetes risk, suggests a review published in Nutrition Journal. Together, they supply fiber, vitamins, and minerals—and the fat from the nuts helps keep your blood sugar at an even keel. Try making your own custom trail mix instead of paying a premium for the pre-packaged kind.

 

Jessica Migala  2019-01-16
source: www.msn.com
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Five Foods That May Increase Your IQ

A healthy diet as you’re growing up may help you have a higher IQ, while a diet high in processed foods, fat and sugar may result in a lower IQ, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in February 2011. Many of the same foods typically recommended for a healthy diet may also be good for your IQ.

Fish and Omega-3 Sources

Omega-3 fats, found in many types of fish and seafood, walnuts and flaxseeds, are important for infant brain development. An article published on the Association for Psychological Science website notes that children given omega-3 fats have higher IQs than those who don’t consume much of these essential polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats may also help protect against dementia as you get older. Oysters are also a good seafood choice, because they’re rich in zinc. Zinc deficiency may adversely affect brain development, according to a review article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2013.

Children and pregnant women are particularly sensitive to contaminants in fish, so choose those that are high in omega-3 fats but low in contaminants, such as wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, mussels and rainbow trout for the recommended two servings per week of seafood to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.

Fruits and Vegetables

Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and orange and red fruits and vegetables, may help protect your brain function and your memory as you age because of the beta-carotene and vitamin C they contain.

A diet rich in herbs, legumes, raw fruits and vegetables and cheese resulted in a higher IQ in children than a diet that included higher amounts of sweet and salty snacks, according to a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in July 2012.

Another study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2009, came to a similar conclusion, showing that children who ate higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and home-prepared foods had higher IQs.

Iron-Rich Foods

Iron-deficiency anemia may impair your attention span, IQ and ability to concentrate, so eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Increasing iron intake only appears to help IQ when children are deficient in iron, however, according to the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience article. Iron-rich foods include lean meats, oysters, beans, tofu, spinach, sardines and fortified breakfast cereals.

Other Protein-Rich Foods

Diets higher in protein and lower in fat may help improve your concentration because of the dopamine your body releases with protein consumption. Soy protein may be particularly helpful, since it also contains lecithin, which may improve memory and brain function. Lowfat dairy products, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are all nutritious sources of protein.

Get Plenty of B Vitamins and Choline

Foods containing folate, vitamin B-12 and choline may also help keep your brain healthy, limiting your risk for dementia, depression and neurological disorders. They are also important for cognitive development, so if children don’t get enough of these vitamins they may have a lower IQ. Folate is available in fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, beef liver, rice, asparagus, black-eyed peas, Brussels sprouts and avocado, and most animal-based foods contain vitamin B-12. Good sources of choline include beef, eggs, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

by JESSICA BRUSO       Jun 17, 2015


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Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?

What’s for dinner? The question is popping up in an unexpected place – the psychiatrist’s office.

More research is finding that a nutritious diet isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the brain, too. The knowledge is giving rise to a concept called “nutritional (or food) psychiatry.”

“Traditionally, we haven’t been trained to ask about food and nutrition,” says psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University. “But diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.”

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans have some type of mental illness each year. The CDC says that by 2020, depression will rank as the second leading cause of disability, after heart disease.

It’s not just a problem for adults. Half of all long-term mental disorders start by age 14. Today, childhood mental illness affects more than 17 million kids in the U.S.

Recent studies have shown “the risk of depression increases about 80% when you compare teens with the lowest-quality diet, or what we call the Western diet, to those who eat a higher-quality, whole-foods diet. The risk of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) doubles,” Ramsey says.

A Growing Idea

Just 5 years ago, the idea of nutritional psychiatry barely registered a blip on the health care radar. There had been a few studies examining how certain supplements (like omega-3 fatty acids) might balance mood. Solid, consistent data appeared to be lacking, though.

But experts say many well-conducted studies have since been published worldwide regarding a link between diet quality and common mental disorders – depression and anxiety – in both kids and adults.

“A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health,” says Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. “A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”

There is also interest in the possible role food allergies may play in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, she says.

But nearly all research involving eating habits and mental health has focused more on depression and anxiety. And there’s no direct evidence yet that diet can improve depression or any other mental disorder, although a trial to determine this is now underway.

Experts caution that while diet can be part of a treatment plan, it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for medication and other treatments.

Here’s what they do know about how diet may play a role in mental health. What you eat affects how your immune system works, how your genes work, and how your body responds to stress.

3 Ways Diet Impacts Your Mental Health

Here are some more details on how good nutrition impacts brain health:

1. It’s crucial for brain development.

“We are, quite literally, what we eat,” says Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “When we eat real food that nourishes us, it becomes the protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters that transfer information and signals between various parts of the brain and body.”

2. It puts the brain into grow mode.

Certain nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance.

On the other hand, “a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins,” Jacka says.

3. It fills the gut with healthy bacteria.

And that’s good for the brain. Trillions of good bacteria live in the gut. They fend off bad germs and keep your immune system in check, which means they help tame inflammation in the body. Some gut germs even help make brain-powering B vitamins.

Foods with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) help maintain a healthy gut environment, or “biome.” “A healthier microbiome is going to decrease inflammation, which affects mood and cognition,” Ramsey says.

A high-fat or high-sugar diet is bad for gut health and, therefore, your brain. Some research hints that a high-sugar diet worsens schizophrenia symptoms, too.

fruit_vs_junkfood

This Is Your Brain On … Kefir?

Certain foods may play a role in the cause of mental disorders, or they may make symptoms worse. A nutritious brain diet follows the same logic as a heart healthy regimen or weight control plan. You want to limit sugary and high-fat processed foods, and opt for plant foods like fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Swap butter for healthy fats like olive oil, too. In other words, try a Mediterranean diet.

It’s “an ideal diet for physical and mental health,” Jacka says. Recent results from a large trial in Europe show that such an eating plan may also help prevent, and not just treat, depression.

The key is to choose foods that pack as many nutrients in as few calories as possible. Nutrients might be particularly helpful for treating or preventing mental illness are:

  • B vitamins. People with low B12 levels have more brain inflammation and higher rates of depression and dementia. Falling short on folate has long been linked to low moods.
  • Iron. Too little iron in the blood (iron-deficiency anemia) has been linked to depression.
  • Omega-3s. These healthy fatty acids improve thinking and memory and, possibly, mood.
  • Zinc. This nutrient helps control the body’s response to stress. Low levels can cause depression. A great source is oysters, which pack 500% of your daily need of zinc but have just 10 calories apiece, Ramsey says. Mussels, which are rich in brain-healthy selenium, are also a good choice.

Also, fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt with live active cultures, which provide good gut bacteria, may help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel provide omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, selenium and other brain boosters. And dark chocolate has antioxidants, which increase blood flow to the brain, aiding mood and memory.

Unfortunately, the Western diet is “extremely low” in these nutrients, Ramsey says. He’s working on a new tool called the Brain Food Scale, to be published later this year. It will provide a quick look at the nutrient-to-calorie relationship.

Does Diet Replace Medicine?

You should always talk to your doctor before stopping or taking less of any medication you’re on.

“No matter where you are on the spectrum of mental health, food is an essential part of your treatment plan,” Ramsey says. “If you are on medications, they are going to work better if you are eating a brain-healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods.”

Ramsey recommends that you talk to your doctor about what you should eat — not just what you shouldn’t. He hopes that one day a simple 5-minute food assessment will become part of every psychiatric evaluation.

Nutritionists like the idea.

“More psychiatrists need to recognize the nutrition-mental health connection,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, who is registered by the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants. “We can have so much power over our mental health using food and nutrients.”

Article Sources:
Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry (ISNPR) and Associate Professor at Deakin University, Australia.
Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, inventor of the Brain Food Scale, and co-founder of National Kale Day.
Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, ROHP, registered nutritionist and author of The Probiotic Promise.
Sarris J. The Lancet Psychiatry, May 2015.
Logan AC. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, July 24, 2014.
CDC website: “Mental Health Basics.”
National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Mental Illness Facts and Numbers.”
Gomez-Pinilla F. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, November 2013.
University of Utah Health Sciences website: “The Human Biome.”
Sánchez-Villegas A. BMC Medicine, 2013. 
Sánchez-Villegas A. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2011. 
Genetics Home Reference website: “BDNF.”
Nehlig A. British Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Feb. 5, 2013.
News release, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Jacka F. PLOS One, Sept. 21, 2011.
Lakhan S. Nutrition Journal, 2008.
Young S. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. March 2007. 
Peet M. British Journal of Psychiatry, 2004.
Ramsey D, Muskin P. Current Psychiatry, January 2013.
Bourre J. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, Nov. 5, 2006. 
Selhub E. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, Jan. 15, 2014.

By Kelli Miller    WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD   Aug. 20, 2015

source: WebMD


5 Comments

Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?

By Kelli Miller    WebMD Health News     Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Aug. 20, 2015 – What’s for dinner? The question is popping up in an unexpected place – the psychiatrist’s office.

More research is finding that a nutritious diet isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the brain, too. The knowledge is giving rise to a concept called “nutritional (or food) psychiatry.”

“Traditionally, we haven’t been trained to ask about food and nutrition,” says psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University. “But diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.”

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans have some type of mental illness each year. The CDC says that by 2020, depression will rank as the second leading cause of disability, after heart disease.

It’s not just a problem for adults. Half of all long-term mental disorders start by age 14. Today, childhood mental illness affects more than 17 million kids in the U.S.

Recent studies have shown “the risk of depression increases about 80% when you compare teens with the lowest-quality diet, or what we call the Western diet, to those who eat a higher-quality, whole-foods diet. The risk of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) doubles,” Ramsey says.

A Growing Idea

Just 5 years ago, the idea of nutritional psychiatry barely registered a blip on the health care radar. There had been a few studies examining how certain supplements (like omega-3 fatty acids) might balance mood. Solid, consistent data appeared to be lacking, though.

But experts say many well-conducted studies have since been published worldwide regarding a link between diet quality and common mental disorders – depression and anxiety – in both kids and adults.

“A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health,” says Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. “A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”

There is also interest in the possible role food allergies may play in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, she says.

But nearly all research involving eating habits and mental health has focused more on depression and anxiety. And there’s no direct evidence yet that diet can improve depression or any other mental disorder, although a trial to determine this is now underway.

Experts caution that while diet can be part of a treatment plan, it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for medication and other treatments.

Here’s what they do know about how diet may play a role in mental health. What you eat affects how your immune system works, how your genes work, and how your body responds to stress.

3 Ways Diet Impacts Your Mental Health

Here are some more details on how good nutrition impacts brain health:

1. It’s crucial for brain development.

“We are, quite literally, what we eat,” says Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. “When we eat real food that nourishes us, it becomes the protein-building blocks, enzymes, brain tissue, and neurotransmitters that transfer information and signals between various parts of the brain and body.”

2. It puts the brain into grow mode.

Certain nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in a brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. A diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance.

On the other hand, “a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars has a very potent negative impact on brain proteins,” Jacka says.

Brain-Food

3. It fills the gut with healthy bacteria.

And that’s good for the brain. Trillions of good bacteria live in the gut. They fend off bad germs and keep your immune system in check, which means they help tame inflammation in the body. Some gut germs even help make brain-powering B vitamins.

Foods with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) help maintain a healthy gut environment, or “biome.” “A healthier microbiome is going to decrease inflammation, which affects mood and cognition,” Ramsey says.

A high-fat or high-sugar diet is bad for gut health and, therefore, your brain. Some research hints that a high-sugar diet worsens schizophrenia symptoms, too.

This Is Your Brain On … Kefir?

Certain foods may play a role in the cause of mental disorders, or they may make symptoms worse. A nutritious brain diet follows the same logic as a heart healthy regimen or weight control plan. You want to limit sugary and high-fat processed foods, and opt for plant foods like fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Swap butter for healthy fats like olive oil, too. In other words, try a Mediterranean diet.

It’s “an ideal diet for physical and mental health,” Jacka says. Recent results from a large trial in Europe show that such an eating plan may also help prevent, and not just treat, depression.

The key is to choose foods that pack as many nutrients in as few calories as possible. Nutrients might be particularly helpful for treating or preventing mental illness are:

  • B vitamins. People with low B12 levels have more brain inflammation and higher rates of depression and dementia. Falling short on folate has long been linked to low moods.
  • Iron. Too little iron in the blood (iron-deficiency anemia) has been linked to depression.
  • Omega-3s. These healthy fatty acids improve thinking and memory and, possibly, mood.
  • Zinc. This nutrient helps control the body’s response to stress. Low levels can cause depression. A great source is oysters, which pack 500% of your daily need of zinc but have just 10 calories apiece, Ramsey says. Mussels, which are rich in brain-healthy selenium, are also a good choice.

Also, fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt with live active cultures, which provide good gut bacteria, may help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel provide omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, selenium and other brain boosters. And dark chocolate has antioxidants, which increase blood flow to the brain, aiding mood and memory.

Unfortunately, the Western diet is “extremely low” in these nutrients, Ramsey says. He’s working on a new tool called the Brain Food Scale, to be published later this year. It will provide a quick look at the nutrient-to-calorie relationship.

Does Diet Replace Medicine?

You should always talk to your doctor before stopping or taking less of any medication you’re on.

“No matter where you are on the spectrum of mental health, food is an essential part of your treatment plan,” Ramsey says. “If you are on medications, they are going to work better if you are eating a brain-healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods.”

Ramsey recommends that you talk to your doctor about what you should eat — not just what you shouldn’t. He hopes that one day a simple 5-minute food assessment will become part of every psychiatric evaluation.

Nutritionists like the idea.

“More psychiatrists need to recognize the nutrition-mental health connection,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, who is registered by the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants. “We can have so much power over our mental health using food and nutrients.”

SOURCES:
Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry (ISNPR) and Associate Professor at Deakin University, Australia.
Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, inventor of the Brain Food Scale, and co-founder of National Kale Day.
Roxanne Sukol, MD, preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, ROHP, registered nutritionist and author of The Probiotic Promise.
Sarris J. The Lancet Psychiatry, May 2015.
Logan AC. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, July 24, 2014.
CDC website: “Mental Health Basics.”
National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Mental Illness Facts and Numbers.”
Gomez-Pinilla F. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, November 2013.
University of Utah Health Sciences website: “The Human Biome.”
Sánchez-Villegas A. BMC Medicine, 2013. 
Sánchez-Villegas A. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2011. 
Genetics Home Reference website: “BDNF.”
Nehlig A. British Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Feb. 5, 2013.
News release, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Jacka F. PLOS One, Sept. 21, 2011.
Lakhan S. Nutrition Journal, 2008.
Young S. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. March 2007. 
Peet M. British Journal of Psychiatry, 2004.
Ramsey D, Muskin P. Current Psychiatry, January 2013.
Bourre J. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, Nov. 5, 2006. 
Selhub E. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, Jan. 15, 2014.

source: WebMD


2 Comments

The Low-Cost Superfood that Builds Strong Bones

Michelle Schoffro Cook    March 20, 2015

When we think of dried plums, or prunes as they are also known, we’re more likely to think of their bowel-regulating abilities than their capacity to build strong bones. But according to research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, we might want to give these sweet and tasty superfoods a second thought for bone health.

According to researchers at the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, at Florida State University, dried plums are “the most effective fruit in both preventing and reversing bone loss.” The nutrition researchers recruited 236 women who had hit menopause one to ten years earlier, were not on hormone replacement therapy or taking any prescribed medications known to influence bone metabolism. The women were divided into two groups: those who ate 100 grams of dried plums or 100 grams of dried apples. Additionally, participants received 500 milligrams of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D daily.

The scientists assessed bone mineral density of the lumbar spine (low back), forearm, hip, and whole body prior to the study’s onset and at the end of the study using duel-energy X-ray absorptiometry as well as blood samples of bone health markers.

The scientists found that the women eating the dried plums on a daily basis had a significant increase in bone mineral density compared to the women eating the dried apples. Only the dried plums caused a significant decrease in bone markers linked to a breakdown of bone density.

Preventing bone breakdown tends to be easier than reversing bone loss so the study results are significant. Daily prune consumption showed the ability to both prevent and reverse bone loss.

prunes

Additional research in the British Journal of Nutrition had similar results. This time the researchers assessed 160 post-menopausal women with low bone mineral density, but not sufficiently low to be diagnosed as having osteoporosis. Again, they found that prune consumption could prevent and reverse bone loss by limiting the body’s production of compounds that initiate bone depletion.

In the latter study the women ate a normal diet with approximately 10 dried plums daily for a year (about 3.5 ounces).

Fresh plums and dried prunes are known to increase iron absorption in the body as well as boosting vitamin C levels. In addition to aiding bone health, fresh and dried plums have been found to normalize blood sugar levels, improve weight loss, and lower cholesterol levels.

Select soft, plump, shiny prunes that are free of any signs of mold. Avoid sulfured prunes. Store in a refrigerator to keep them fresh. You can find ones with or without pits, depending on your preference and plans for use. While they are delicious eaten on their own, they can be pureed and added to recipes in place of sweeteners to boost the fiber and nutritional content. They can also be stewed for a delicious breakfast or pancake or waffle topping.


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6 Common Chocolate Myths, Busted

Becky Striepe     November 4, 2014

From fat content to acne to your sex drive, there are some big claims out there about chocolate. Check out these common chocolate myths and the truth about chocolate.

When it comes to chocolate and health, the trick isn’t avoiding chocolate altogether. It’s making smart choices. Sure, if you eat a whole Hershey’s bar, you’re not doing your health any favors. But a few squares of good, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial. You can also add 1-3 teaspoons of cocoa powder to a smoothie recipe to instantly transform it into a healthy, chocolatey treat. The sugars from the fruit will offset the cocoa powder’s bitterness. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and add more until you get just the right balance.

The information below is based on a one ounce serving of 70 percent dark chocolate or one tablespoon of cocoa powder. An ounce of dark chocolate is about a quarter cup, grated. That’s usually about 1/3 of a regular-sized chocolate bar.

6 Common Chocolate Myths: BUSTED

Chocolate Myth #1: Chocolate is high in fat.

This is true of a chocolate bar, but not all chocolate is high in fat. While an ounce of dark chocolate contains 12 grams of fat (7 grams of saturated fat), cocoa powder is actually a low fat food. A tablespoon of cocoa powder has just one gram of fat and zero grams saturated fat. So add cocoa powder to your smoothies or baking without worry!

Like I mention above, an ounce of dark chocolate is a very generous serving – about 1/3 of a chocolate bar or about six typical-sized squares. If you treat yourself to a couple of squares of dark chocolate, you’re only looking at four grams of fat. Not too bad for a decadent treat!

Chocolate Myth #2: Chocolate is all empty calories.

This is another case of choosing the right chocolate. Most chocolatey treats are very sugary, but you don’t have to get your chocolate in a diluted cake-and-icing form. Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of cocoa. That ounce of dark chocolate provides 19 percent of your daily iron and 2.2 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of the trace minerals copper and manganese.

chocolate

Cocoa powder delivers a little less in the nutrition department, but it also contains only 12 calories. Not bad for a food that provides four percent of your daily iron needs and two grams of dietary fiber. It’s also a very good source of magnesium, phosphorous, copper and manganese.

Chocolate Myth #3: Chocolate is high in caffeine.

If you’re super sensitive to caffeine, I want to mention up front that chocolate definitely does contain this stimulant, but in a relatively low dose. An ounce of dark chocolate contains 22.4 mg of caffeine, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder has 12.1 mg. A one-cup serving of coffee, by comparison, contains 95 mg of caffeine. A small coffee at most coffee shops is a 12 ounce serving, which is a cup and a half or 142.5 mg of caffeine.

Chocolate Myth #4: Chocolate rots your teeth.

Sugary treats are definitely bad for your teeth, but like I’ve talked about a bit above, chocolate doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar. An ounce of dark chocolate has only seven grams of sugar — less than you’d find in a small apple — and a tablespoon of cocoa powder contains no sugar at all. In fact, one dentist shared four ways that chocolate may actually be good for your teeth.

If you do treat yourself to a sugary chocolate treat, brush your teeth as soon as possible afterwards.

Chocolate Myth #5: Chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

I am sorry to report that there’s no conclusive proof that chocolate improves your libido. While there have been a few promising studies about chocolate and sex drive, there’s a lot of conflicting research out there. Of course, if eating a little bit of delicious chocolate makes you happy, there’s no reason to avoid it.

Chocolate Myth #6: Chocolate causes acne.

The myth about chocolate causing acne is at least 100 years old. There’s actually no conclusive research showing that chocolate causes acne. The trick with eating for healthy skin is that our bodies are all different. Spicy food is a good example here. I can eat a bowl of Thai-hot curry and then go about my day. That same bowl of curry puts my husband right out of commission. Food triggers for acne vary from person to person in the same way.


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Need A Natural Energy Boost? Here Are 7 Food Strategies

Kara, selected from TreeHugger     July 19, 2014

Food is fuel for our bodies, and our bodies reflect what we put into them. By learning how to eat in ways that boost energy and combat fatigue, you can do a lot to optimize your mental and physical performance throughout the day.

1. Make sure you’re getting enough iron

Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. An estimated 10 percent of women between 20 and 40 are iron-deficient. Iron is a crucial nutrient that boosts energy, combats fatigue, and enhances physical and mental endurance. Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen through people’s bodies, and without sufficient oxygen, your body will become fatigued. Women need more iron because of monthly menstruation, and small children need a lot because their bodies are growing so quickly.

Focus on making iron-rich foods a part of every meal. Kale, spinach, lentils, beans, sesame seeds, prune juice, edamame, whole grains, red meat, and molasses are good food sources of iron. Here is a longer list from the Dietitians of Canada.

2. Cut the caffeine

Many of us turn to coffee as a way to boost energy instantly but, as a stimulant, it creates an artificial sense of energy that will eventually crash, leaving you feeling more tired than ever. While I’m a big fan of my morning latte and have no intentions of giving it up, it’s a good idea not to go too crazy with the coffee addiction. Restrict your daily intake to 1 or 2 cups a day, or cut it out completely.

3. Drink plenty of water

Keeping hydrated is absolutely necessary for optimal physical performance. Try starting the day off by drinking a tall glass of water to replenish the fluids lost during the night. A glass of water does wonders to wake you up during the early afternoon slump. Avoid sugary juice and soda, as well as caffeine-laden coffee and energy drinks, and make water your go-to beverage throughout the day.

4. Don’t forget the fat

Healthy fats can provide energy. Fat helps to absorb the antioxidants in other foods that you’re eating, which in turn are important for maintaining healthy cells. Fat also makes you feel full for longer, which means you don’t have to eat as much to feel satisfied at the table. I realize this goes against the U.S. and Canadian Food Guides’ recommendations for low-fat, high-carb diets, but there is mounting empirical evidence that that kind of diet is not so good for us after all and is a leading cause for high levels of Type 2 diabetes. Seek out healthy fats, which can be found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocadoes, raw nuts and seeds, and fatty fish.

5. Eat whole grains

Whole grains slow down the digestive process and burn more slowly than refined or processed foods, providing energy over a longer period of time. You’ll also get more nutrients since the individual foods will not have lost any ‘original parts’ in the act of the processing. Choose whole grains such as steel-cut oats, millet, barley, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, and buckwheat.

6. Balance your food intake

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” By properly balancing your daily food intake, you will ensure optimal energy throughout the day. A hearty, energizing breakfast that includes low-glycemic carbs and healthy fats gives you the fuel to start the day. As your metabolism slows before bedtime, it’s important to eat less. Be sure to eat healthy snacks throughout the day to maintain energy, such as raw nuts, seeds, and fruit.

7. Buy fresh and local

The fresher produce is, the more nutrients it has. By buying locally, you’ll minimize the amount of time wasted between harvest and consumption, and optimize the nutritional value for your body. The produce is fresher and usually has not been subjected to irradiation (getting zapped by radiation to kill germs), wax coatings, or prolonged refrigeration.

By Rick Ligthelm, TreeHugger