Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGIES RELATE TO FOOD ALLERGIES

If you suffer from some environmental allergies you may also suffer from certain food allergies.  In most cases the food allergies are not severe and may only cause some itching, etc.  In a few cases they could be severe.  (Not talking about regular food allergies here, just ones related to environmental allergies.)

According to an article in Comsumer Reports on Health Volume 23 Issue 12, December 2011 if you suffer from the following environmental allergies you could possibly notice some allergy to the corresponding foods listed.
  • GRASSES:  celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomatoes
  • RAGWEED:  bananas, cucumbers, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini
  • BIRCH:  almonds, carrots, celery, cherries, hazelnuts, kiwis, peaches, pears, plums
The food allergy symptoms will usually show themselves as itching in the mouth, nose, etc or other minor problems.  If you have the above environmental allergies and notice these food allergy symptoms, before you think you are sick or coming down with something, think back to whether you ate the above foods when your environmental allergy was more exposed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

GROCERY STORE PHARMACY!

This is a quote from Dr. Mehmet Oz, Professor of surgery at Columbia University Medical Center, NYC and Medical Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at NY-Presbyterian Hospital:  "When you walk into a grocery store, you are walking into a pharmacy, and the power of those foods is as powerful as medications."

Based on my own experiences with multiple health situations, I believe that statement is 100% true!  The old saying, "You are what you eat," is so true!  Think about the doctors statement everytime you go grocery shopping.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

DIABETES PERCENTS OF POPULATION

These numbers are a couple of years old so they may have changed (if so they will be higher).

According to the American Diabetes Association (these are American numbers only):
  • 12% of African Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • over 10% of Hispanics have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • 7.5% of Asian Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • over 6.5% of the white population have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • There are probably about that many more in each catagory who are undiagnosed!!
I listed these numbers on this site because we have a lot of control over this disease with our diet.  There is no such thing as a 'diabetic diet' no matter what anyone tells you.  Each individual will react differently to foods.  However, we do know some foods will make diabetes worse in everyone and some foods will improve diabetes in everyone.  There are several posts on this blog and more will be added continually to help you eat to improve your diabetes.  Some key things you need to know are:
  • Cut back on fats, sugars, and the amount of food you take into your body.
  • Learn to read nutritional labels.  Sugars and fats are often hidden in foods you don't expect.
  • Just because a food is advertised as 'healthy', doesn't mean it is okay for diabetics.
  • Balance your protein grams and carb grams.  You should always be sure you are taking in a ratio of 30% protein grams to carb grams.  For example, to make it easy, if you take in 100 grams of carbs, you need to balance that out with 30 to 35 grams of protein.  This doesn't have to be everytime you put something into your mouth but it should balance out at the end of the day.  And never eat carbs without protein.  Ever wonder why we eat fruit and cheese together?  Or why nuts are served at parties, showers, weddings, etc with the cake?
Check in at this site daily for updates.  Many of the updates here concern diabetes since I am a diabetic myself!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

EAT FISH WITHOUT THE SKIN

Dr. Andrew Weil, a famous MD says it is better to eat fish without the skin as toxins from the water can accumulate in the scales and fat.  For those of you who often eat fish with the skin on, you might want to start changing to fish without the skin.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DIGESTING WHOLE FOODS

Another reason to eat whole foods versus processed foods is that you burn 50% more energy digesting the whole foods.
                                      

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HOW MUCH SUGAR DO WE EAT?

Eating the typical American diet, means consuming 35 teaspoons of added sugar per day!  How much is that?  Find out for yourself, you will no doubt be surprised.  Get a bowl and a measuring teaspoon (a teaspoon from your measuring spoons, not one from the silverware tray!) and count out 35 teaspoons of sugar into said bowl.  Then remember that is added sugar, not the natural sugar you are also consuming from the fruits, vegetables, milk, etc in your diet.  How to avoid this extra 132 pounds of sugar for every man, woman, and child?  Read labels!  And remember added sugars can be disguised with words like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, honey, fructose, maltodextrin, dextrose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, etc.  Cut back on the amount of processed foods you eat and read the labels before you buy any food products.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

DR. OZ COMMENTS ON MEAT

In an interview last Fall, Dr. Oz was ask if he thinks meat is demonized in this country.  His answer:  "I do.  I don't think how we grow meat is ideal  But grass-fed, organic beef has a fair amount of omega-3 fats.  It has iron.  It has lots of B vitamins.  It has nutrients that our bodies need desperately."    He also said that when he eats meat, probably around once a week, he eats a high quality steak.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

MRSA

MRSA is a deadly, antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that can be very dangerous and is becoming more and more prevelant.  I found this study about coffee and MRSA to be interesting:  2.5 million Americans apparantly carry MRSA in their nasal passages without showing symptoms of the bacteria.  People who drink hot coffee and/or tea were found to be 50% less vulnerable to the bacteria.  It is assumed that the protection probably stems from the antimicrobial properties in the coffee and tea.  But beware, I said people who drink HOT coffee and/or tea.  The same protection was not found when drinking the beverages cold or iced.

Note: This study was published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

This is a mild, early picture of MRSA. It can quickly become much worse and can actually be deadly in some cases.

Friday, January 20, 2012

BRIGHT LIGHTS

Ever notice how bright the lights are in the grocery store?  They do more than make it easy to see.  When you go to the produce department, pick up the spinach that is in the front.  Often we dig to the back of the produce thinking the best or freshest might be there.  Well guess what?  Spinach that has been exposed to more of the light has greater amounts of vitamin C than those buried in the back of the bin.  This information came from a report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ALCOHOL AND DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

Alcohol, even in small amounts, destroys brain cells.  While a healthy person can withstand this brain cell loss while drinking moderately, an Alzheimer's - or any patient with dementia - patients must not drink alcohol even in small amounts.  Not only will drinking alcohol cause a more rapid progression of the disease, it can also interact with the antidepressants and other medications the patient is probably taking.  Do yourself and your relatives or friends who suffer from dementia and/or Alzheimer's away from all alcohol.             

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MORE BENEFITS FOR EGGS

As previously discussed on this blog, eggs are no longer considered a 'bad' food.  In fact according to Food Chemistry a new study has shown that two egg yolks, that's right - yolks, have approximately the same antioxidant power as an apple.  And we know antioxidants help to prevent cancer and heart disease and have many healthy benefits.

As with all things, don't overindulge.  But relax and enjoy some eggs.

Monday, January 16, 2012

TABLE SALT

Are you one of those people who grabs the salt shaker and salts their food without ever tasting it?  If you are, STOP IT!  Most of us get way more salt than is recommend.  Salt is a preservative so it is prevelant in almost everything we purchase to eat.  The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 1,500 milligrams (mg) daily.  Are you aware that 1/2 teaspoon of salt is about 1,200 mg?  Do not resalt your food and if you are one who does salt everything, start out by cutting the amount of salt you apply in half.  Wean yourself of this nasty habit.  Your body will thank you!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

AVOID OVEREATING BY EATING RIGHT

Amber Massey a registered dietitian at a large hospital in Ft Worth, Texas says that people often see the words 'sugar-free' or 'fat-free' on processed foods that are deceptively high in calories.  To make matters worse, these foods are often maddeningly low in satisfaction.  And satisfaction can be crucial to a successful weight-loss or weight-maintaining diet.  She says, "Unfortunatley, we have become a fat-sugar-phobic generation."  Often those fat-free, sugar-free foods pack as many calories as their regular counterparts.  To make those foods tasty enough for you to eat, they add something in somewhere.  Again, let me stress, read the labels!

Rachel Huber, a registered dietitian at the World Famous Dallas-based Cooper Institute states, "Recognizing hunger and fullness can be hard for people.  Babies have that ability to stop eating when they're full.  Many overweight people have learned to override those signals."

If you don't feel satisfied after eating a meal that is not packed with nutrition, your brain will tell you to keep eating.  If you continue to eat low-nutrient food, your brain will keep nagging you.  You should eat foods that are water-rich, fiber-rich, and nutrient-rich if you don't want to feel hungry again sooner than you should.

To make it simple, let's put it this way.  Eat a banana, with a protein source such as a few nuts or some peanut butter and whole-grain crackers, instead of a banana muffin.  You will be giving yourself more nutrition and allowing yourself to feel full longer.  This will help eleminate your brain from telling you to eat again an hour or two after you had that muffin!  And don't blame overeating on your brain.  Your brain is only responding to what your body is telling it after you have eaten the wrong foods.




Which would make the better snack? The muffin or the banana and nuts?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

EAT MORE CANTALOUPE

Studies at Kansas State University showed that a carcinogen in cigarette smoke depletes Vitamin A, which may lead to emphysema and lung inflammation.  Not only is cantaloupe a rich source of vitamin A which can help make up for this deficiency for anyone exposed to second-hand smoke, it is also an anti-inflammatory.  The American Cancer Society also suggests eating melons to protect against colorectal cancer.  And the best part?  Cantaloupe tastes great, too.


Friday, January 13, 2012

DON'T OBSESS OVER YOUR DIET!

"Obsessing over being healthy can make you less likely to stick with good habits.  It can leave a busy person so defeated that you adopt a 'screw it all' mentality" -  Susan Love M.D.  Don't obsess.  Just do the best you can with whatever circumstance you find yourself in.  Even 'fast food' restaurants offer side salads (and they give you the dressing on the side so you can determine how much, if any, to use!), often baked potatoes, apple dippers or other fruits, etc.  Try to make sure you eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal and don't obsess about every meal!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

LITTLE KNOWN BENEFITS OF EGGS

Eggs have often been maligned but they are once again accepted as a good food.  But did you know that eggs have anti-inflammatory properties?  Or how about this; a huge study of 121,000 women has suggested that eating 3 eggs a week during adolescence dropped the risk of breast cancer by 18%!  Parents, as a breast cancer survivor, I say feeding your children 3 eggs a week is well worth it!  Other components in eggs, ie choline and lecithin, are shown to improve brain and gallbladder functions.  I would say eating eggs, in reasonable quantities, is a good thing to do.



                                                     

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WHAT IS A SERVING SIZE OF FRENCH FRIES?

Many don't really understand what a serving is!  A plate full of french fries is not a serving!  A serving of french fries is basically 10 fries.  Of course french fries come in many different sizes.  Use your common sense when determining how many your serving should be.  If you are eating the very thin matchstick fries, obviously 10 is not a full serving.  However if you are eating those big ole steak fries, 10 may be more than a serving.  The ten french fries that make up a serving are obviously average-sized fries.  Why is this important?  If you are on a diet for any reason, especially if you are diabetic or have a similar health situation, it is important that you don't fool yourself! To say, "I only ate a serving of french fries.  I don't know why my blood sugar shot up," is fooling yourself if you ate a regular or large size serving at your favorite restaurant.  Be responsible and eat only 1 serving, that is one real serving!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SOYBEANS

The soybean was called "the miracle bean" by the ancient Chinese.  And indeed it seems they knew what they were talking about.  Soy products, which come from the soybean, are quite popular in our grocery stores and restaurants today and they are known for their health benefits. 

The soybean is the highest of all beans in an anticancer compound known as 'protease inhibitors'.  These compounds have been shown in studies to retard cancer, lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

Today it is easy to include soy beans and other soy products in your diet.  They can be used in everything from salad toppings to snacks, side dishes to entrees, and even in our beverages and desserts.  Are you including soy products in your diet?


Monday, January 9, 2012

BRONCHITIS PREVENTATIVE?

I am not saying this is a cure or that it works 100% of the time.  However, if you have a problem with chronic bronchitis or emphysema it is certainly worth a try.  Some doctors recommend that patients with these pulmonary problems eat pungent foods such as onion, garlic, and hot peppers at least 3 times a week to help keep their airway passages clear.  The benefit most likely comes from the capsacian in the foods.  My husband suffers from COPD which includes chronic bronchitis.  Since he likes these foods and eats them often, I intend to make sure he has them several times a week.  Why not eat something that won't hurt you and just might be helpful?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WARNING

It is important to remember that no one single food, foods of one type, or the exclusion of a single food or food type should be considered unless specified by your doctor.  It is important to eat a well-rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, meats, fish, etc.  Do not go on a diet that removes all of a food type or requires eating only a certain food type without having a thorough discussion with your doctor.  This goes for whether you are considering this for health purposes or dieting for weight control.  Our bodies are complicated and they need different things from different foods and food groups!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

WHITE BREAD

One of the things I constantly tell people who ask me nutritional questions, is to quit buying white bread.  Yes, that is the plain ole white bread so common on our grocers shelves and in our American kitchens!  I know, I know; "my kids won't eat other breads," "my husband insists on white bread," "other bread is too expensive," etc.  And I say, "Baloney!"  Your kids will eat what you give them. If there is none of that horrible white bread around, they will eat their sandwiches on healthy bread.  And guess what?  They will learn to like it.  When my granddaughter, who is seven, is at my house and asks for a sandwich, she gets so excited over having it on 'grandma's good bread.'  If your husband insists on that white stuff, tell him you won't do that to him.  If he wants to put that stuff in his body, he will have to go buy it.  That will get him to thinking about what he is putting in his body!  Yes, healthy breads do usually cost a little more.  But you are worth it!

Can you believe that they bleach white flour with chlorine gas?  The cholorine gas puts off a by-product called alloxan.  Alloxan destroys beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin.  Hello, diabetics, is this starting to make sense to you?

As has been mentioned earlier on this blog, changes don't happen overnight.  Neither does damage, in most cases.  We slowly damage our bodies without even realizing it.  Now that you know about white bread, don't bring anymore of it into your kitchen!

Note:  This picture is not to put down WONDER BREAD!  This is a statement about white bread.  Brand has nothing to do with this story!

Note: There is a white whole-wheat bread and that is fine to use. It is make with white wheat while the regular "bleached white bread" we are used to is made with bleached red wheat.

Friday, January 6, 2012

POTASSIUM AND BLOOD PRESSURE

Have you ever heard that potassium can help to lower blood pressure but didn't understand why?  Potassium is a mineral that blunts the effects of sodium, better known as salt.  We all know that with a high blood pressure diagnosis comes the hated lecture about salt in your diet as it is known that too much salt can raise ones blood pressure.

The following is a partial list of foods that are high in potassium.  If you suffer from high blood pressure, be sure to include one or two of these items in your meals everyday.  If you don't have high blood pressure, it is still a good idea to eat more of these foods as a preventative measure.  They are 'taste-good' foods so you have no excuse!
  • bananas
  • cantaloupe
  • honeydew
  • kidney beans
  • mushrooms
  • orange juice
  • peas
  • sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes

Thursday, January 5, 2012

HIBISCUS TEA FOR BLOOD PRESSURE

If you suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, sipping three cups of Hibiscus Tea every day may help to lower your systolic blood pressure number by up to 7 points in 6 weeks according to one study I saw.  And that is on par with some medications. 

NOTE: Do not read this, stop taking your medication, and overdo it on Hibiscus Tea.  But if you do have this problem, it might be worth sipping on the tea.  Keep track of your bp numbers and see if you notice any difference.  Never stop taking your blood pressure meds without consulting with your doctor!



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WHAT IS PURE CHOCOLATE?

Since I wrote about chocolate yesterday, I thought I would say more about it today.  Chocolate comes from a tropical bean known as the Cacao or Cocoa Bean; the name literally means 'food of the gods' and I know many of you agree!  So do I!  To get to the chocolate that is on our retail shelves, the first process these beans go through is roasting and cracking.  This process separates the shell from the meat of the bean.  We know this meat as nibs.  The nibs are then ground which melts the naturally present cocoa butter to produce a dark brown paste.  This paste is known as chocolate liquor.  So chocolate liquor is the first of the natural products that comes from the nibs or meat of the cocoa beans.  This is pure natural chocolate without any sugar or added ingredients.  When chocolate liquor is molded and allowed to solidify, you get pure, unadulterated chocolate.  This is the unsweetened chocolate which we readily find on our grocers shelves.  It is usually wrapped in thin papers and sold in boxes as baking chocolate.  If you are planning to bake or cook using chocolate, this is a recommended source.  At this point, you have total control over any sugars or addititives to your chocolate.  This chocolate still contains its natural cocoa butter and is approximately 50% cocoa butter.

To get Cocoa Powder, the other pure chocolate recommended for cooking and baking, the chocolate liquor or unsweetened chocolate is pressed to extract most of the cocoa butter leaving the dry cocoa powder.  This is a much more reduced-fat (it is not fat-free) product.

The extracted cocoa butter is used to produce other chocolate products such as semisweet and bittersweet chocolate.  To get these products sugar and some of the extracted cocoa butter is added to the chocolate liquor.  You can see where I am going here!  When you want chocolate, pay attention to which chocolate you are buying.  You can quickly go from a natural healthy product to one with all kinds of sweeteners and additives.

Bittersweet chocolate must contain at least 35% cocoa butter while semisweet, the most versatile and often used chocolate, can contain anywhere between 15% and 35%.  Learn to read the labels!

Milk chocolate contains must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor or true chocolate.

White chocolate is not true chocolate because it contains no chocolate liquor.  It consists of sugar, milk solids, and cocoa butter.

                                    

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

CHOCOLATE: A SUPER FOOD?

The problem with chocolate is not the chocolate itself.  It's what we do to it or how much we consume of it!    Actually many studies have shown the health benefits of chocolate such as:

  • Chocolate makes you smarter!  Plenty of research suggests that the flavonols in dark chocolate increase cerebral blood flow which in turn may trigger the creation of new blood vessels and brain cells.  A recent study showed that we older folks performed better in cognitive tests after eating small portions of dark chocolate.
  • Chocolate weakens heart attacks!  Although more research is needed to confirm this, a recent study showed that regular eaters of chocolate who had heart disease were less likely to die following a heart attack compared with people who didn't eat dark chocolate.
Now keep in mind the above facts both say "dark chocolate".  Most commercially prepared chocolate is high in sugar and perhaps other things not so good for you.  If you enjoy chocolate, stick with the dark chocolate and it is probably best to prepare your chocolate treats at home using only ingredients that are good for you!