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Archive for the ‘Prevention’ Category

Did I just hear right? Indeed I did. I caught a moment of the news and the anchor was covering a new study touting these results – and later, after a quick online search, I learned that this anchor wasn’t alone – many were covering the “4 cup a day, keep diabetes away” story.

Here’s what I’ve got to say, could 4 cups of Joe a day ever be healthy, or even help prevent diabetes?:

1) If one exchanged plain coffee for caffeinated sodas – this would be a nutritional upgrade that could help prevent diabetes.
2) If, however, one decided to have cream and sugar or even fat-free milk and artificial sugar or a no-sugar added powder or a non-dairy creamer with partially hydrogenated oil in their coffee…then they would lose in terms of diabetes risk
3) If one was drinking 8 cups of coffee a day or 6 cups and 2 Red Bulls, and traded down to 4 cups a day, then I could see how this nutrition upgrade could help prevent diabetes.
4) If one was drinking 16-24 ounces daily of juice, “vitamin” waters, and sugar-based teas, and exchanged these for 4 cups of coffee one could see reduction in their risk of diabetes as well as likely their waist circumference and body fat.
5) If one was eating “energy” bars with greater than 10 grams of sugar, less than 5 grams of protein, and which contained artificial ingredients daily or several times daily, and exchanged it for a cup of coffee and an apple with some peanut butter, then perhaps the coffee could help to reduce diabetes risk.
6) If, however, one consumed 4 cups of coffee in lieu of eating nutrient balanced eating occasions during the day and then “backloaded” with calories at night, then one surely did not help prevent the onset of diabetes and moreover, the stress and irritation to the system would more likely increase risk for other chronic diseases or symptoms in the future
7) If one added spices to coffee like cinnamon, clove, and cardamom then one would likely feel the benefit of digestive aids as well as hormonal ones that could help protect the body against diabetes and other diseases.
8) If one has a high risk of diabetes due to obesity, family history, or other medical factors and decides to ONLY increase consumption of coffee to prevent diabetes then one likely misses out on whole host of other well-documented nutrition and lifestyle behaviors that can help prevent diabetes while also improving overall long term health.
9) If one consumed only organic coffee – so that no additional chemicals enter our system – then one will help reduce the toxic burden in the body which could be linked to a lower risk of obesity and disease, including diabetes.
10) If when consuming coffee, one doesn’t get any jitters and it allows one to function daily as well as get in routine exercise and go to sleep at a reasonable hour (before midnight) with 6-8 hours of sleep then the coffee consumption might not be an issue.
11) If, however, one has one 24-hour day where coffee wasn’t available and one can’t function; one scours the cupboards for sugar to get a “lift” or to identify replacement sources of caffeine. Then one’s body is telling them that it is likely addicted to caffeine and should consider reducing or eliminating intake.

Net, net, only you can answer the “if’s” for yourself. But I will provide one final If / Then scenario that applies to us all: IF you believe the topline of a study presented on the news and change your diet to meet the reported results without finding out more about what the study results were based on, as well as whether it fits your particular health profile, Then you have no one but yourself to blame if the outcome isn’t as the tv reporter presented.

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Winter is here. We see it in our skin, hair and nails – the dryness, and the resulting little cracks that will prove to be excellent entrance ways for bad bugs that can lead to winter colds.

How do we spell protection against winter dryness and colds? HYDRATION

Sometimes hydration is only thought of as a summer issue – we are hot, we sweat, and so we remember to drink lots of water and eat water-based foods. We wear hats to shield our hair and skin from the sun and we lather on the moisturizer.

Habits change in the winter. We change from water-based vegetables to winter’s more starchy and less water-based vegetables; we trade raw salads for warm soups; and our iced teas often become hot tea with milk, hot cocoa, and hot cider which translates to: less water, more sodium = DEHYDRATION. Furthermore, we often forget our skin under all those clothes and while sun exposure may not be our issue (though winter sun should not be ignored), heaters/heating have a powerful, drying effect on our skin.

What to do? Follow these tips to improve winter health by way of HYDRATION:

1) Potassium intake: make sure to include potassium-rich foods and beverages which help bring water into our cells for hydration: coconut water (see this video to learn more about coconut water’s hydration benefits: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWOV_WRvVdc), bananas, potatoes, avocado, and even try supplement Ultima Replenisher for travel or in your workout bottle.

2)Sodium intake: be careful with excess sodium which keeps water outside our cells (dehydrating). Make your own soups or look for low-sodium options; use spices versus salt; and when using salt aim for a sea salt that contains an array of minerals; avoid canned and packaged foods where salt is used as a preservative, and choose fresh and frozen options (sodium can still be an issue in these packaged foods so read labels). In general, sodium should be less than 250mg PER serving but in some foods like soups it’s likely to be higher versus others like frozen vegetables where there should be zero. Check the Ashley Koff Approved lists on my site for good choices and always compare products in a category (i.e. cereal, soups etc.). http://www.ashleykoffapproved.com/approved/index.html.

3) Water – yes, you need it…8 glasses or take your weight in pounds and divide it in half and that will give you your daily ounces requirement (if you wight 150 pounds then that’s 75 ounces and there’s 8 ounces in a cup so you need between 9 and 10 cups daily).

4) Oil Up – when you get out of the shower or after you wash your face add some oils like coconut oil or argan oil to your skin to lock in moisture. Also, you can spray a hydrosol on your face in the day and reapply a dot of oil to the nose and lip areas which tend to get dry the quickest. Choose alcohol-free skincare products to avoid extra dryness.

5) Shroom ‘n Good Bugs: Yup, adding mushrooms like maitake and shitake to the diet or taking a daily supplement like LifeShield from New Chapter are great ways to boost your immune system. Also, consume probiotic-rich foods like coconut water kefir and cultured veggies as well as taking a supplement (I recommend and work with Align).

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In other blogs I talk a lot about prevention tips or healthIER options for Halloween, I want to address a question I get  asked often (and not just on Halloween)- what do I do if I OD on sugar?

Its important to note that there are all sorts of sugar sources – fruit, fruit juice, dried fruit, cane sugar vs organic sugar, sweeteners – artificial or not, legumes, grains, and so on. And that one’s favorites can be very different – candy lover vs pasta queen or fruit-can’t-get-enough-er. Regardless of your preferences though, the body’s response (and what we seek from sugar) is likely to be the same.

I want more ______
Energy, happiness, to not say “I can’t have” and so on…all translate to “I want more sugar” messages

And so, I provide some tips:

The body gets an inflated (but real) sense of energy / even euphoria, but when that drops its going to cry out more loudly for carbs. To address:

  1. Make sure to focus on sleep, yoga, breathing
  2. Try magnesium for relaxation (from foods or I like Natural Calm as a supplement (I work with them)
  3. Don’t go cold turkey the morning after and skip all carbs altogether but go back to portion control, nutrient balance and eating frequency principles (every 3 hrs). See the AKA menu worksheet on my website
  4. Use a crutch- you can use quality lean proteins as a crutch (have an extra portion or grab when you crave sugar) until the intense cravings pass.
  5. Remember not to beat yourself up – that’s mean 😦  but also can contribute to keeping the cycle going (you get sad or frustrated and then have carbs to feel happy).

Happy Halloween! And remember a holiDAY is one DAY which shouldn’t derail any of us if we go back to our Qualitarian lifestyles the next.

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There’s a lot of talk about certain omega fatty acids today – like omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids – and the need to consume them in our diet (or even to supplement the diet with them). Why? Some omega fatty acids –linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – are “essential” meaning that our bodies don’t make them so we rely on food sources to provide the building blocks for these fatty acids. Additionally, omega 3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory power helps balance our bodies in favor of appropriate inflammation. Omega 9, olive oil is a notable dietary source, receives great popularity with the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. But when talking about omega fatty acids and their health benefits, who says we should be count by threes (3,6,9) – in doing so we might just leap frog over some omega fatty acids with health benefits themselves (5,7).

Omega 7, known as palmitoleic acid, may appear to have ‘minor’ status in the world of monounsaturated fats but its health benefits are hardly such. Omega 7 helps regulate fat and blood sugar metabolism (in adipose tissue and in the pancreas). In vitro studies suggest that omega 7 helps improve the function of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. And when it comes to the skin, omega 7 is no ‘minor leaguer’…it is a major fatty acid in epithelial cell membranes – this means skin, blood vessels and mucous membranes. The presence of omega 7 in the epithelial cell membrane plays a protective role including inhibiting bacterial growth, as well promoting tissue recovery and healing. Research specifically on sea buckthorn oil, (which contains 30-40% omega 7), shows its role in improving eczema, acne, oral and stomach ulcers, and vaginal irritation / dryness. Dietary sources of omega 7 fatty acids include wild salmon, macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn berries.

Omega 5, otherwise known as myristoleic acid, is less common in nature – found primarily in the seed oil from plants in the Myristicaceae genus where nutmeg is the most well known; the oil is also extracted from saw palmetto. Myristoleic acid extracted from saw palmetto has shown to effectively combat cancer cells in prostate and pancreatic cancers. Additionally, omega 5 may play a key role in the inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase, a mediator of inflammation, thus, by acting in this anti-inflammatory capacity it helps to promote appropriate inflammation in the body. Food sources of omega 5, beyond extracting myristoleic acid from the aforementioned plants, include the fat of marine animals (wild Alaskan salmon), beavers, and bovines.

So, omega 5 and 7, are they in you? Seems like they should be. How? Consider that whole food sources – plant and animal – contain an array of omega fatty acids thus they are your best insurance to get all of these nutrients. But what if you don’t eat fish, macadamia nuts or what if you are trying to treat one of the symptoms or diseases noted above and want to try omega fatty acid supplementation?  One key takeaway from this omega story is that rather than picking one or two favorites – Mother Nature doesn’t – think of your omega consumption like an orchestra – all the different omegas playing together make the sweetest music. Whether food or supplement, consider making the choice that provides an array of omega fatty acids. Afterall, a whole food approach to nutrition will help ensure you get omegas 5, 7 and 3, 6, 9 in you for optimal health.

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I recently returned from a trip to Bristol Bay, Alaska to explore firsthand wild Alaskan salmon – and the healing power of its fish oil. Wild salmon fish oil contains numerous nutrients that can help further explain the powerful results discussed below. Wild Alaskan Salmon fish oil – whether eating the fish or taking a wild Alaskan fish oil supplement – naturally contains omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D (which research has shown to have breast cancer prevention benefits as well as being a factor in survival once diagnosed), and astaxanthin (antioxidant which research has shown to have cancer preventive benefits) [AKA brands: Vital Choice and Wholemega by New Chapter].

Excerpted from http://newsletter.vitalchoice.com/e_article001808612.cfm?x=bh7J7mn,b3jbk3b9

The results of a very large epidemiological study from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are making headlines worldwide.

In short, the study showed that women who took fish oil regularly were 32 percent less likely to develop breast cancer over a six-year period (Brasky TM et al. 2010).

Significantly, the researchers found no associations between breast cancer rates and any other supplements that have been proposed as possible anti-cancer aids … including soy.

Fish oil shines in unprecedented epidemiological study

The Seattle team surveyed 35,016 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 76, who were taking part in the Hutchinson Center’s Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study.

The goal was to compare the women’s breast health over the six year study period to their intake of non-vitamin, non-mineral “specialty” supplements.

The supplements asked about in the survey included fish oil, soy, black cohosh, gingko, and St. John’s Wort.

About one in 12 of the women said that they’d taken fish oil at some point, with most of those (83 percent) saying that they took fish oil at least four times a week, and 60 percent reporting that they took fish oil capsules daily.

The Seattle team compared the women’s supplement use to their breast health after six years, and adjusted the results to account for other potentially influential factors, including age, family medical history, and use of hormone replacement therapy.

In the end, the analysis showed that only fish oil was associated with any reduction in breast cancer risk.

And the reduction was quite steep … regular fish oil users were 32 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer within six years.

The nearly one-third reduction in breast cancer diagnoses among fish oil users came almost entirely from a reduction in common ductal tumors … there was no drop in the fish oil users’ risk of the far less frequent lobular tumors.

Invasive lobular carcinomas make up a small portion of all breast cancers. The most common type of breast cancer – ductal carcinoma – begins in the breast ducts.

Results are encouraging but require clinical verification

As with any epidemiological study, the associations that were found cannot prove that a cause-effect relationship exists between a dietary or lifestyle habit (such as taking fish oil) and the risk of a developing a disease.

Also, the researchers had no way of verifying those claims or knowing the exact doses of omega-3s each woman was getting from her particular fish oil regimen.

However, basic research in human cells and in animals suggests that it’s plausible that fish oil could reduce the risk of breast tumors and other common cancers.

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish fat tend to dampen inflammation, which plays a role in many common cancers … as well as in heart disease. And among other anti-cancer effects, omega-3s tend to promote “suicide” (apoptosis) among cancerous cells…

Sources

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In this month’s O Magazine, I advise how to avoid weight gain each decade – and to loose if need-be – to avoid the health risks of excess weight as you age.

Eating Through the Ages

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AKA disappointed to read this morning that the US government fails to understand the basic definition of ‘preventive health’. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that, according to today’s New York Times, “with the government’s blessing, a drug giant is about to expand the market for its blockbuster cholesterol medication. Crestor to a new category of consumers: as a preventive measure for millions of people who do not have cholesterol problems.” That this is the government’s idea of “prevention” makes sense (or should I say “cents” or “dollars”) in a country where my services (as a dietitian) and other truly preventive health efforts are rarely covered by insurance, yet where surgeries and treatments for actualized disease almost always are, and where company’s at risk of losing billions when the patent for their drug expires look for new markets to prevent against such loss. One has to ask, is this similar to cigarette or fast food companies targeting low income consumers or specific races when their previous client base has learned of the negative health consequences of these products and thus moved on. Now to say a statin is a cigarette or fast food is perhaps too harsh. However, what we do know is that cholesterol is a necessary molecule in the body – that it acts as carrier for coenzyme q10, a potent antioxidant and electron donor, and that cholesterol links to testosterone production, among other things. I’ve already worked with patients who were put on Viagara to address erectile dysfunction levels and who were on statins where the LDL had, much to their MDs support and pleasure, gone as low as 60 or 80. When we reduced the statin dose, the ED remedied without medication. Or how about patients suffering the muscle pain often associated with statins – whose telling them to take CoQ10 and to make sure they take it far away from their statin. These are ‘preventive health’ recommendations… And so by the way is eating an apple, an organic apple, daily. So yes we have new healthcare law, but we also have a long way to go in the health education of our government.

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