Archive for Diet choices for your best health
Consumer Group Damns US Regulation of Genetically Altered Foods
Unfortunately, few people here in the US are aware of the term “genetically modified” when it comes to food. “So what??” would be many’s reply; however, it is a very real possibility that, by altering nature, we are creating proteins that our bodies have never seen before, setting up the stage for all kinds of new food allergies, sensitivities and diseases. This really can be quite serious…
(article) The US government, in its enthusiasm to speed genetically altered foods to the market, has forsaken its responsibility to regulate in the public interest and allows the companies that make and sell those products to decide their safety, a new report by the Consumer Federation of America concludes. “That system assumes that a company with a big investment in a new product can always be trusted to put the public interest first, and it assumes that one of those companies will never make a mistake,” CFA’s Carol Tucker Foreman said at a briefing held to release the report. The hands-off regulatory approach is hobbling US companies’ efforts to export their biotech products, the report contends. Both the European Union and Brazil, which are cited in the report, require mandatory review and labeling of all biotech foods, and have frowned on US imports because of what they view as lax regulation in this country. According to the report, worldwide sales of genetically modified foods grew an estimated $75 million in 1995, when the first commercial plantings occurred, to approximately $2.3 billion in 1999. More than 40 modified food plants have been marketed in the US for general use, most of them corn and soy products.
Experimental study of Mediterranean diet for rheumatoid arthritis
Ditto. Ann Rheum Dis — Abstracts: Sköldstam et al. 62 (3): 208
Caution Urged on Soy-Based Menopause Remedies
Remember what I said about natural medicine being held to a higher standard than traditional medicine? Here we have a researcher saying that we are not fully informed on how soy works in the human body and so we need to be careful with its use. A little reality check for the author–a large chunk of the drugs listed in the PDR have “mechanism of action unknown” on them and yet we throw these about like candy. But soy, with literally centuries of use, needs to be approached with caution. I would have to add that using soy supplements that have the percieved active constituents concentrated is probably not the best way to approach the use of soy in a healthy lifestyle.
British Endocrine Societies’ annual meeting in Harrogate, Yorkshire Apr 08 – So little is known about how plant oestrogens act on the human body that sales of soy supplements as a “natural” alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) must be questioned, a researcher reported on Tuesday at British Endocrine Societies’ annual meeting in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Soy has been widely promoted as a natural alternative to HRT. Soy contains genistein, a plant oestrogen that has similar but weaker effects as the oestrogen found in women. But Dr. Saffron Whitehead, reader in reproductive physiology at St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London, said new studies on human cells have shown that genistein and other phyto-oestrogens may also block the enzymes that make these hormones. This could explain why the incidence of breast cancer, which in many cases is dependent on oestrogen, is about two thirds lower amongst Japanese and Chinese women who consume diets rich in soy compared with women living in England, she told her colleagues. Dr. Whitehead’s team examined the effects of phyto-oestrogens on human ovarian cells obtained during procedures for in vitro fertilization. The results showed that several phyto-oestrogens, including genistein, inhibited the conversion of androgen to oestrogen. The researchers believe this could be significant in postmenopausal women because as ovaries cease to function in menopause, oestrogen converted from androgen becomes the only source of oestrogen. “This finding is potentially important to the phyto-oestrogen story,” Dr. Whitehead said in a statement. “We really don’t know how phyto-oestrogens act in the human body. They could be weak oestrogen mimics, oestrogen blockers or enzyme inhibitors. “If they do stop the natural production of oestrogens, we should consider whether soy supplements be sold as a natural alternative to HRT.”
Effects of fruit and vegetables on antioxidant concentrations, BP
This is another of those “how much did we spend on this study???” study. Is there anyone out there that thinks that increased consumption of fruits and veggies won’t positively impact markers of health? Do we really need to spend money just to quantify what common sense already tells us?
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This always seems to be a key question for those of us who want to manage or lose weight, and the answers are all over the board. Certainly carbs and proteins have all had their day.
Protein with the Atkins, carbs with the Pritikin diet. Not sure that the “all fat diet” has been popular, though. Heck, even balance has had its day through Zone-type diets, but we all know that us here in the US don’t do well with “balance.”
So what is the answer? Better yet, is there one?
It is true that everyone is different. However, there are some constants that we can look at. But first, we need to review a few key hormones that regulate weight and appetite:
- Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone I have covered frequently in the past. Basically, this hormone is an anti-diabetic hormone and can generally be considered helpful.
- Peptide YY (PYY) 3–36 is a hormone that suppresses appetite and slows gastric emptying, which will help to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Glucagon is a hormone that runs opposite of insulin. Glucagon release causes the liver to release stored sugar to raise sugar levels in the bloodstream for energy.
- Ghrelin is a hormone that does many things, chief of which is to increase hunger.
- Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) is a hormone similar to GLP-1, but instead is believed to stimulate the release of insulin.
- Cholecystokinin is a hormone release by the small intestine that causes the gallbladder to release bile and the pancreas to release digestive enzymes.
Not that the physiology primer is over, we can get into the meat of this particular study. Researchers looked at three different diets; normal protein, medium protein (25% of energy from protein) and high protein diet (50% of energy from protein) to see how the body responded. Here’s what they found:
- The high protein diet led to higher levels of GLP-1 (20% higher) , peptide YY (14%), and glucagon (116% higher) greater responses than the normal protein diet.
- The high protein diet increased insulin and cholecystokinin levels over the normal protein diet.
- The high protein diet decreased ghrelin and GIP levels.
- Satiety was 16% greater and fullness was 19% higher.
- Hunger decreased 26% in the high protein diet.
It is clear that protein was a strong winner for controlling appetite and improving the body’s response to a meal. Here’s the important part…
It is also abundantly clear that a high animal-based diet is NOT good for us and promotes pretty much every chronic disease you can think of. The bottom line is, if you like the idea of a high protein diet such as the one in this study (50% of calories), you’d better be getting most of this protein from plant sources. These can include:
- Nuts and seeds (like hemp, flax)
- Soy (tofu, miso, edamame, tempeh)
- Beans / hummus / lentils / peanuts or peanut butter
- Whole grains like quinoa and salvia
Adding these plant based proteins to your diet in higher levels may be the key you need to curb your hunger and maintain or achieve an ideal body composition.
Resveratrol Enhances Differentiation Induced by Butyrate
This study on colon cancer cells shows an additive effect of resveratrol (found in red wine and peanuts) and butyrate (a short chain fatty acid formed by bacteria acting on soluble fiber in the gut). With studies like this, we start to see why certain traditional diets have the health -promoting effects they have. The Mediterranean diet has already show to be beneficial via increased absorption of lycopene (fat soluble carotenoid) with olive oil intake. This research study mechanism would find lower rates of colon cancer in patients combining wine intake with whole grains.
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: Wolter and Stein 132 (7): 2082
Soy Milk Lowers Blood Pressure in Mild to Moderate Hypertension
Soy milk is such an easy thing to add into a healthy lifestyle. It’s nice to see a study on the food as opposed to extracts.
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: Rivas et al. 132 (7): 1900
Lipoprotein Oxidation Inhibited by Red Wine Polyphenols but Not Ethanol
I have pretty firmly stood by the idea that it is most likely the compounds in the grapes that make the red wine rather than the wine itself that affords its protective properties. While there may be some minor interactions and benefits that require alcohol, this article supports my theory (don’t we all just hate it went we’re right??).
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: Rifici et al. 132 (9): 2532
When the USDA came out with the Food Guide Pyramid in 1992, smart physicians and researchers predicted increases in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Guess what we saw?
Increases in heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But why? Those of you old enough to remember the Pyramid will recall that fats and oils were at the top of the pyramid with the instructions to “use sparingly.” Grains, with no guidance on whole grains versus refined, made up the base of the pyramid at 6-11 servings per day.
The problem is that fats and oils, the healthy ones, are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. But the Pyramid drove fats into the category of “fattening” in the eyes of the American public. To this day, many people think that foods high in fat will make them fat. This is just not true.
Now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, we need to move on to the meat of today’s article.
There have been some clear associations between healthy fats found in wild caught fish, nuts and olive oil and lowered rates of certain types of cancer as well as an adjunct to mainstream cancer treatment. Some examples include:
- Using omega 3 fatty acids to improve cancer outcomes.
- Olive oil use lowers colorectal cancer risk.
- EPA kills off pancreatic cancer in the lab.
- Healthy fats protect skin cells from skin cancer.
There are many more, but I think you get the idea.
This particular article is a review of the anti-cancer properties of omega-3 fatty acids. Here’s what the authors point out:
- Epoxydocosapentaenoic acids (EDPs) are compounds made from the omega-3 DHA.
- EDPs block the compound VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). VEGF stimulates the growth of new blood vessels that is so important for tumor growth.
- EDFs block another compound called fibroblast growth factor 2 that also makes new blood vessels.
- EDFs block endothelial cell migration–another process needed to form new blood vessels.
- EDFs block the enzyme protease, which is needed for cancer cells to metastasize.
- In special cellular studies, EDPs have been shown to cut primary tumor growth and metastasis by up to 70%
- Interestingly, compounds derived from the omega-6 arachidonic acid increase angiogenesis and tumor progression.
The bottom line is that an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats combined with a decrease in animal-based saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids is clearly have a role to play when it comes to cancer in our bodies.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- wild caught fish
- grass fed meats (NOT grain finished) and wild game
- nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc…)
- veg-a-fed eggs
Good sources of monounsaturated fats include:
- olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed is best)
Foods high in omega-6 and animal saturated fats to avoid:
- vegetable oils (corn, soybean, peanut, cottonseed, etc…)
- commercially grown meats
- dairy products
If your fridge is a little short on items on the first 2 lists above and loaded with the third list, it’s time for a purge. Your future risk of cancer depends on it.
This review is truly a beautiful summary on this incredibly important topic. One of the interesting things (among many) is that the author recognizes the validity of elimination diets and oral food challenges; however, I have yet to have a patient come in telling me that there allergist did anything other than skin prick or possibly RAST blood testing. This article is a must read for the background on food allergies.
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