Archive for February, 2010

Today’s New York Times says the data is inconclusive – here’s what AKA has to say.

When it comes to salt it is true that some people are more salt sensitive than others.

It is true that salt plays a role in raising blood pressure, or a reduction in salt intake can help lower blood pressure

Salt or sodium rather works in opposition to potassium – sodium keeps the water outside the cells and potassium brings it in the cells where the body needs it for hydration.

Not all salts are created equal – mineral rich salts such as many sea salts contain a variety of minerals as nature intended – not just sodium and chloride which is found in table salt.

Using salt when cooking pre-empts the need for it after we cook – and we can use a lot less this way and still get great flavor.

Salt consumption often triggers our sweet cravings – have sushi with soy sauce and need something sweet after? Have lunch meat sandwich and chips and need a sweet after? So the issue may not be the salt but what it triggers.

Salt is a preservative to keep packaged foods fresh for longer and longer periods of time – do we need this? Freezing vegetables or fruit does the same and no salt is required.

So while the jury isn’t out on salt there’s a lot one can do to balance their salt intake for optimal taste and health.

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What if we get to the place where we as a society recognize the historic, proven, and lasting value of plants for their medicinal purposes? Wonderful, right?

So let’s say we get to that amazing place…

And then these plants, and those that understand their uses, aren’t available because we haven’t protected these natural resources. What an awful scenario for US.

However, and even more dramatic, what does it mean to the rest of the world if these resources aren’t available.

The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the population in developing countries relies on medicinal herbs to meet their PRIMARY health-care needs. (more…)

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This week a study came out showing the likely benefit of aspirin in prevention of breast cancer recurrence.

While the study says the findings don’t mean every woman should run out and start taking regular aspirin, the study does inadvertently support dietary recommendations to help prevent breast cancer and recurrence by showing the mechanism for aspirin’s action: inflammation.

Inflammation is natural and beneficial in the body; however, inappropriate or chronic inflammation is unnatural and dangerous to the body. A great resource on the anti-inflammatory diet is Dr Andrew Weil and his book HEALTHY AGING.

The following provides some ideas for healthy dietary exchanges that can reduce inappropriate inflammation in the body.

1) Exchange your fats:

  • Eat nuts (especially walnuts are rich in anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids) versus cheese – whether as a snack or on top of your salad or make my omega 3 pesto (Recipes for IBS) – so you trade a healthier anti-inflammatory fat versus the animal fat in cheese
  • Make delicious ORGANIC fruits and veggies part of every eating occasion – from tomato sauce to sweet potatoes to peas to kale and spinach and berries – create colorful eating occasions and when you choose ORGANIC you get a) more antioxidants and b) fewer toxins – the former which helps address the byproduct of inflammation (oxidation) and the latter which can trigger the negative effects of inflammation (i.e. chronic disease)

2) Cut the sugar, still enjoy dessert:

  • Added sugar creates glycation (a stickiness which occurs when sugar meets proteins) and this glycation deforms proteins – deformed proteins can trigger disease
  • Use fruit versus sugar – I make “iced tea” using white tea and frozen organic blueberries – an anti-inflammatory cocktail if you will; or make “apple pie” – baked organic apples with cinnamon, and crumbled walnuts – yum! or your own Omega 3 Chocolate truffles with Nuttzo (or another nut butter), cocoa (100%), cinnamon or other spices, and raw honey

3) Skip the “flavorings”, Use your spices:

  • Mother Nature gave us every flavor we need – whether its uber-anti-inflammatory spices like ginger and turmeric or spices like cinnamon, basil, and cardamom which help regulate digestion and metabolism
  • Modern food processing has given us artificial flavorings which the body doesn’t recognize, irritates our systems, and increase risk of inflammation

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Whole Grain, Whole Truth?

There’s a lot of news about whole grains today, and we’re not getting the whole truth. Whole grains are amazing for us – they contain nutrients as mother nature intended. From big minerals (like magnesium) to micronutrients (like chromium) to the skins (fiber), whole grains pack a nutritious punch that our body needs to prevent disease, for optimal energy, and for satisfying eating occasions.

However, recent ads and food product inventions have made it clear to me that a lot of food manufacturers don’t understand, or do understand but are manipulating, the definition of a whole grain.

So let’s set the record straight. A whole grain is a whole grain – its not that difficult – its the grain with its parts all attached – bran, endosperm and germ …. What this means is the grain looks like, well, a grain – rices, quinoa, oats, wheatberries, etc. – these whole grains are NOT whole if they’ve been ground, refined and then nutrients added back, puffed, flaked, or flattened.

Not ground? What about whole grain flours in pastas, cereals etc? If we are technical, these are NOT whole grains. When we grind them up into flour (even if we don’t remove any nutrients) we break down their fiber outside of the body thus cheating an important nutrition value of whole grains. When we make puffs (rice cakes, cereals etc) we open up grains, creating a higher surface area for digestive enzymes to act on which means that the glycemic load (how the food effects our blood sugar levels) is greatly increased, a negative for our bodies in terms of getting energy more quickly then the body can utilize it all – resulting in fat storage and potential for elevated blood sugar levels / insulin resistance, and the first steps to diabetes.

Does this mean products from these semi-processed whole grains are all bad? No, it just means that they are less nutrient dense, and less healthy than the actual whole grain and they should NOT be allowed to tout the benefits of whole grains in the media or on pack but rather should say made with whole grain flour, if indeed they originated from true whole grain flour vs refined with some nutrients added back.

So before you grab a box or a bag – consider have you had ACTUAL whole grains today? AKA advice: favor true whole grains in your diet for optimal health.

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