Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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The Fruit that Protects Against Colon Cancer

While there has been a lot of controversy surrounding resveratrol supplements in recent times, new research from Pennsylvania State University closes the book on fruit containing the compound and its ability to protect against colon cancer. That’s promising news for the 95,500 Americans the American Cancer Society predicts will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year alone.

The new study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that resveratrol—a plant nutrient known as a phytonutrient—may actually suppress colon cancer stem cells, giving researchers and sufferers of the disease alike hope for a new prevention and treatment strategy. Cancer stem cells are cells that are believed to drive the creation of new cancer cells and cancer tumors. The researchers found that in addition to suppressing colon cancer stem cells, resveratrol found in grapes also significantly reduced the number of cancer tumors—a whopping 50 percent reduction in the number of cancer tumors.

The same researchers also found that resveratrol in food combined with grape seed extract was an even more potent anti-cancer mixture than just resveratrol alone. They found that grape seed extract seemed to increase the potency of resveratrol.

Resveratrol has also shown great promise in the prevention and treatment of brain diseases, due to its ability to protect the brain from damage. In this capacity, resveratrol mops up harmful free radicals and protects against plaque that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

While it remains to be seen whether resveratrol supplements offer the many health benefits of the compound that is naturally found in foods, it is clear that the food sources of this plant nutrient may offer protection against diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Some research even links the nutrient to the protection against damage from the heavy metal cadmium. Cadmium is found in cigarettes, black rubber, burned motor oil, some ceramics, fungicides (like those sprayed on apples, potatoes and tobacco), some refined wheat flour, tires, silver polish, some water and some soft drinks (from vending machines with cadmium in the pipes). It may also protect the kidneys against damage from the antibiotic gentamicin.

The food mixture used in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine study involved a blend of grape skins and grape seeds. This combination offers both resveratrol and grape seed extract. I use a high-powered blender to blend whole purple grapes that contain seeds into a drink so it is easier to obtain the health benefits of grape seeds, without the unpleasant texture so many people dislike. Stir periodically as you’re drinking the grape juice blend to ensure the seed and grape skin pulp are mixed.

Experts have been recommending high amounts of colorful produce in our diet for years. Research like this new study offer greater insight into the rationale for doing so: colorful fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest amounts of phytonutrients. Purple and blue foods tend to have the highest amounts of resveratrol, but the plant nutrient is high in many foods, including: purple grapes, purple grape juice, red wine, raspberries, mulberries, blueberries, peanuts, grape seed extract, eucalyptus and spruce.

While many people tout red wine as the best source of the nutrient, the alcohol (and frequently sulfite) content offset some of its health benefits. Fresh purple grapes and grape juice tend to be the best sources of resveratrol.

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook    July 1, 2017
About Michelle    Follow Michelle at @mschoffrocook
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4 Nutrition Rules That Make Eating Healthy Extremely Easy

DAILY HEALTH POST, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
The old adage “do as I say, not as I do” comes to mind when people pose questions about health; everyone lately seems to be doling out advice: doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, health advocates, bloggers, magazines, your next door neighbor…Who should you listen to?
Heed advice from people who look like they are living it. If they look well, feel well, and are aging well, they obviously have to be doing something right.
Take any advice with a grain of salt and do your own research. Here’s a list of basic nutrition rules that generally work for everyone.

1. Leave High Fructose Corn Syrup Behind
The leading causes of obesity are high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sugar. Sugars stimulate the same part of the reward/pleasure center in the brain as caffeine and street drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin) and release dopamine–this is where addiction begins.
Companies discovered in the 1970’s that HFCS is sweeter and cheaper than sugar and decided to replace the refined sugar used in products with HFCS. In 2010, researchers at Princeton University conducted experiments using rats: different groups were fed various diets. The ones given HFCS gained 300% more weight over the ones fed regular table sugar or diets high in fat.

“When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese–every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”[1]

2. Eat Your Daily Fiber
Most Americans are not eating diets that are rich in fiber. There are two types of fiber that are crucial to a healthy body: soluble and insoluble. Fiber cleans your intestines, keeps you regular, promotes a healthy digestive system, keeps your blood glucose levels stable, and helps to keep your cholesterol balanced. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Diets low in fiber can lead to all sorts of intestinal issues, diverticulitis, colon cancer, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Keep your digestive system healthy and your colon clean.
Here are a few great sources for daily fiber:
  • Lentils, peas, beans
  • Greens (turnip, beet, collard, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce)
  • Broccoli, asparagus
  • Carrot, sweet potato
  • Avocado, raspberries, pear, apple
  • Cinnamon
  • Sesame and flax seeds, almonds
  • Quinoa, buckwheat
  • fiber rich foods
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3. Eat Your Daily Rainbow
Eating a variety of different-colored fresh vegetables and fruit ensures a diet rich in fiber that provides essential vitamins and minerals for the body to function properly, fight disease, regrow cells, lower cholesterol, and keep heart and brain healthy.
Different phytonutrients can be found in each color of vegetation. Antioxidants and enzymes found in plants repair damage caused from the sun’s harmful rays, filter toxins in the air and environment; prevent and kill cancerous cells, convert nutrients into vitamin A, enhance immune response, reduce inflammation, lower risk of chronic disease, and repair and prevent damaged tissue by balancing oxidating free radicals.
Instead of eating the same ol’ thing every week, try adding new and colorful fruits and veggies to meals, ensuring your body is rainbow-healthy.

4. Get Enough Healthy Fats
What would happen if you took the oil out of your car and tried to drive it? The engine would seize up and you wouldn’t get very far. This is the same line of thinking for why the body AND brain need healthy fats.
Eating healthy fats doesn’t make you fat; the bad processed and sugary foods you are eating make you fat. Usually when people remove fat from their diets they replace them with processed carbohydrate foods. What carbohydrates the body doesn’t use for energy is stored as fat.

Your brain is comprised of 60% fat; if it does not have enough of the proper nourishing lubricant, it cannot function optimally and over time will start to harden, creating plaque. This hardening process is seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, and brain-related diseases. Without proper nutrition provided to the brain in the form of healthy fats, simple tasks like speech, vision, movement, and thought process are affected.
Healthy fats curb your hunger for longer periods of time because your body uses them immediately as energy and pulls from them essential nutrients the body cannot make on its own. The archaic thinking that all fat is bad has since been proven wrong.
Healthy fat foods:
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, chia, flax, pumpkin (seeds)
  • Eggs (whole)
  • Wild fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout
  • High-quality, cold-pressed, unrefined plant-based oils: olive, coconut, sesame
  • Olives
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9 Factors Affecting Your Metabolism

a Care2 favorite by Megan, selected from Experience Life

In spite of all the information and all the prescriptions offered by modern diets, American people just keep getting fatter. In my mind, this suggests that our knowledge about metabolism is missing something — perhaps some of the old wisdom that kept hundreds of generations of people slender and strong. Of course, having access to modern scientific knowledge is enormously helpful too. The key lies in integrating these two bodies of wisdom, and then applying them to get a better understanding of our entire physiological landscape.

Diet and Nutrition

Food supplies us with nutrients that are critical for healthy metabolism, and for health in general. Vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids and probiotics are all essential nutrients, many of which cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be ingested from an outside source. Missing even one essential nutrient from your diet could have a devastating effect on your metabolism and overall health, so it’s important to understand how they work.

Minerals

Minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc) are critical for all tissue structures, including bones, skin and hair. They also play vital roles as electrolytes, which regulate the body’s electrical charge. That electrical charge is necessary for all cellular metabolic functions, but especially for the assimilation of nutrients and the elimination of toxins.

Proper mineral balance helps moderate our body’s sodium levels, preventing water-retention, inflammations and bloating. It also maintains our body’s proper acid/alkaline balance (overacidity leads to sluggish metabolism and makes the body more vulnerable to infection and disease). Minerals even help protect the body from radioactive toxins.

Because mineral deficiencies are related to serious metabolic problems (with symptoms such as indigestion, headaches, nervousness, depression, exhaustion and impotence), it is wise to eat plenty of mineral-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables grown in mineral-rich soil, as well as seafood and especially sea vegetables.

Proteins

Proteins — and the essential amino acids they contain — are the body’s chief building material. Adequate protein is absolutely necessary for healthy metabolism. However, to be useful, it must be properly digested and assimilated by the body (we’ll address this point in more detail later).

Good sources of complete protein (protein that includes all nine essential amino acids) are animal foods such as chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, fish and seafood. Soy is an alternative for those who wish to minimize their meat and dairy intake, but carefully combining foods is an equally good alternative. In times of short meat supply, ancient people traditionally used the combination of grain and legumes (such as rice and beans) to produce a complete-protein meal. All through the Roman Empire, in fact, beans were considered to be the “poor man’s meat” and were also the gladiators’ main food.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)

Essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) are vital for all bodily functions, and particularly important as building blocks for prostaglandins (hormones that regulate blood pressure, control inflammation and pain and support energy production, including fat burning).

EFA deficiency may cause insulin insensitivity, which negatively affects the conversion of carbohydrates into energy. Many nutritionists recommend eating fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) as a natural source of EFAs. However, that recommendation tends to ignore the fact that most cooking methods (including frying, poaching and baking) destroy most or all of the fish’s sensitive oils.

Taking supplemental EFA oils (such as flaxseed and primrose) is therefore highly recommended.

Probiotics

Probiotics, such as lactobacilli, are the friendly flora (i.e., bacteria) that live in your intestines. They assist with digestion and, at the same time, inhibit all sorts of dangerous, unfriendly organisms that would otherwise take over your digestive tract.

Probiotics help digest proteins. They also neutralize toxins in the colon. When protein isn’t fully digested, it may reach the colon and bloodstream in a toxic form. When that happens, metabolism is compromised. Allergic reactions, irritable bowel symptoms and other pathological complications can result.

Naturally fermented foods (such as yogurts with acidophilus) are a good source of friendly bacteria. Probiotic supplements are another option.

Yogurt

Enzymes

Enzymes are involved in all metabolic processes. These protein compounds work as catalysts to break down foods into nutrients that can then be assimilated or converted into energy. They also work systematically as mediators and catalysts to other hormonal, glandular and sexual functions.

In the presence of adequate and balanced nutrition, the body produces its own enzymes. However, enzyme deficiencies often occur, most often as a result of too much processed and cooked food and too little live, raw food present in the diet.

Some enzyme deficiencies are also related to aging. The older you get, the fewer enzymes your body produces. Conversely, there is some evidence that supporting your body with enzymes may actually help slow the aging process.

In the blood, enzymes work as antioxidants and also as anti-inflammatory agents. Some believe that protease enzymes (enzymes that digest protein) have anti-cancerous properties. Studies show that lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fat) may help accelerate fat burning.

There is a rule of nature that raw foods contain all enzymes necessary for their own digestion. Therefore, natural sources of the fat-burning enzyme lipase can be found in high-fat raw foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Those who want to maximize their enzyme intake can also take plant-enzyme supplements.

Vitamins

“Vita,” in Latin, means life. Vitamins, as the root word implies, are life carriers. They are involved in all metabolic processes, including energy production and assimilation of nutrients for the regeneration of tissues. One of the main functions of vitamins is to protect the body from harmful free radicals and toxins that are the natural byproducts of metabolism.

Vitamins and minerals work together synergistically in a precise biological balance. Vitamin deficiencies or imbalances may force the body to compromise all metabolic processes. Vitamin deficiencies also leave the body vulnerable to the damage of free radicals, which can in turn lead to tissue breakdown, disease and aging.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients, including chlorophyll, polysaccharides, sterols, saponins and lactones, are part of a huge variety of plant compounds that actively support certain metabolic processes. There are thousands of known phytochemicals, and a great deal of current research on the potential uses of these natural substances for medical purposes.

Herbs, a rich source of phytonutrients, have been used for thousands of years as metabolic enhancers and as tonics to help people recover from disease. While it would take pages to even begin to address the different functions of common herbs, let me briefly mention just a few things. Certain herbs, such as panax or Siberian ginseng, may help balance metabolic disorders and help alleviate stress-related and sexual problems. Other herbs, such as ephedra, have traditionally served as energy enhancers and fat burners.

Coffee and black tea are the most popular stimulant substances in the world. Green tea is a milder stimulant, but it contains highly potent antioxidants (polyphenols).

Before using any herbs, do your own research on processing, potency, standardization and possible side effects.

Fiber

Fiber plays a critical role in digestion, elimination and energy production. Besides helping detoxify the body through elimination of waste and toxins, fiber influences certain metabolic processes, including the conversion of carbohydrates and fats to energy. In short, fiber slows the absorption of simple sugars, thereby helping to stabilize blood sugar, regulate insulin activity and supply a steady stream of energy to the body. Certain fibers (such as mucilage and pectin) work like sponges, pulling toxins and fat away from the body so they can be more quickly eliminated as waste. For people who don’t know when to stop eating, fibrous foods can also be helpful in triggering a full, satiated feeling.

Although fiber cereals and supplements are a good way to enhance your fiber intake, consider whole foods your first line of defense. Our bodies are built to metabolize whole foods, which are naturally rich in fiber and essential nutrients. Serious metabolic problems, including excessive fat gain, are often the result of chronic consumption of over-processed, refined food. Diets deficient in fiber and minerals make people crave for the missing nutrients, which leads to a near-constant sense of hunger, and sometimes to compulsive binging.

Exercise

Exercise is the most effective method for instantly boosting metabolism. Combining exercise and proper diet naturally leads to maximum metabolic efficiency.

Both are absolutely essential. That said, I believe that diet should be your No. 1 priority. Here’s why: Both your ability to exercise and your exercise results will naturally accelerate in the presence of proper nutrition. Without proper diet, you won’t be able to effectively access energy stores, nor will you be able replace nutrients lost during exercise. When that happens, metabolism declines.

Naturally, genetics are a key factor. But so is metabolism, and metabolism is inherently dependent on how you treat your body. If you attempt to exercise intensively without supporting your body’s nutritional needs, you won’t get very far.

If you want to live in a young, vigorous, lean body, just give your body what it needs in order to reach a peak metabolic state: Eat well, exercise intensely, get enough rest. Most importantly, get to know your body from the inside out. Enjoy its power, respect its complexity, and it will repay you richly.