Posts filed under Nutrition

Get a healthier, more attractive ‘tan’ by eating lots of fruits and vegetables

fruits-and-vegetables
fruits-and-vegetables

There is an undeniable appeal to the healthy glow that sun-kissed skin gives a person. It is so highly coveted that millions of people worldwide sun bathe, use tanning booths, and purchase lotions and make-up products in an effort to gain this desirable radiance. What many people don’t realize is that this same attractive appearance can be achieved with the right choices in diet.

The lively, warm tint that develops in a person’s skin from exposure to sun triggers a process known as melanization. The exposure to the sun’s rays forces a pigment response in the skin that develops darker tones. Unfortunately, it also has the unwelcome side effects of early aging and a higher risk of skin cancer.

This same healthful change in skin color can also be achieved from the inside out by eating fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids. The pigments of these nutrient rich foods provide a healthy splendor to the skin, not to mention a plethora of added health benefits.

Fruits and vegetables rich in carotene include:

  • mangos
  • spinach
  • carrots
  • apricots
  • oranges
  • canteloupe
  • bell peppers
  • peas
  • broccoli

Recent studies to determine the efficacy of carotenoid tanning as compared to sun bathing brought with it surprising results. In groups that were asked to rate the facial features and skin of individuals who utilized either approach to achieve their radiant glow, individuals who chose to tan by using fruits and vegetables were selected above others.

This leads to yet another reason why your mother was right: Eat your fruits and vegetables, it’s good for you.

Posted on September 8, 2014 and filed under Nutrition.

Mushrooms: A Rich Source Of Nutrients And Health Benefits

mushroomsWhen they’re in our omelets or topping our salads, we tend to think of mushrooms as a vegetable. Mushrooms are actually fungi, but they offer a rich source of nutrients like many vegetables do. Culinary television hosts and dietitians will tell you to add plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to your plate because bright colors indicate high antioxidant content, but it’s important not to forget about mushrooms.

What’s in a Mushroom?

Most of us can find a wide variety of mushrooms at our local supermarkets or produce stands. Luckily, most varieties offer about the same nutrients with each serving. Those nutrients include a rich supply of B vitamins like riboflavin, folate, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and niacin. Mushrooms are the only natural, non-fortified edible source of vitamin D, and they contain beneficial minerals like selenium, potassium, iron, copper, and phosphorus.

These fungi also supply choline, a nutrient that has been found to help improve sleep, muscle movement, memory, and learning. Internally, choline works to maintain cellular membrane structure, support adequate fat absorption, help transmit nerve impulses, and reduce chronic inflammation.

Mushrooms and Your Health

A growing number of studies confirm that eating a variety of plant-based foods is linked with reduced risk of lifestyle-related health problems. Like tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and other colorful vegetables, mushrooms are rich in antioxidants.

Mushrooms are among those plant-based foods that help us avoid obesity, heart disease, and mortality in general. A plant-rich diet can do more than merely reduce risks: Eat your veggies, and you may soon find you have healthier hair, a clearer complexion, more energy, and a slimmer waist.

Cancer

Because mushrooms are rich in selenium, eating them helps boost liver enzyme function. This liver action can help detoxify cancer-causing compounds. Additionally, selenium helps reduce or prevent inflammation and stunt tumor growth rates.

The vitamin D content in mushrooms also lends itself to cancer inhibition; vitamin D has been demonstrated to help regulate the cell growth cycle.

Folate content helps with DNA synthesis and repair, which aids in preventing cancer cells and DNA mutations from forming in the first place.

Heart Health

Your cardiovascular health gets a boost from the potassium, vitamin C, and fiber present in mushrooms. Along with with sodium, potassium helps to regulate blood pressure. Because mushrooms are high in potassium and low in sodium, eating mushrooms can help decrease the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes

The high fiber content in mushrooms – about 3 grams in one cup – can help people with type 1 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetics can see improved blood glucose, lipids, and insulin levels.

Diabetes isn’t a prerequisite to load up on fiber, however. Current dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men.

Satiety and Weight Loss

Eating fiber helps you feel full, which can make a significant impact if you’re trying to lose weight. The two kinds of dietary fiber in mushrooms – beta-glucans and chitin – both increase satiety and reduce hunger pangs. Eating them can help you feel full and therefore reduce your daily caloric consumption.

Immune Response

The selenium content in mushrooms also helps boost your immune system’s response because it stimulates t-cell production. Mushrooms’ beta-glucans fibers also stimulate the immune system, helping you fight cancer cells and prevent tumors from developing.

Posted on June 27, 2014 and filed under Nutrition.

Protein Needed With Each Meal For Healthy Muscles

protein breakfastA glimpse down any cereal aisle in America may suggest something most of us already suspect: Americans don’t tend to eat a lot of protein for breakfast. We only have a small amount at lunchtime and tend to save the bulk of our diet’s protein supply for dinner. But how well is this really working for us?

If muscle metabolism specialist Doug Paddon-Jones has anything to say about it, it’s this: “We’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we’re often taking in more than we can use. We run the risk of having this excess oxidized and ending up as glucose or fat.”

Paddon-Jones and his team of scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have introduced new research whose findings runs counter to the way we eat. They’ve demonstrated that the carbohydrate-rich breakfast, lunchtime sandwich or salad, and protein-heavy dinner we tend to consume does not present the most effective culture for healthy aging or muscle strength.

Their work, published in the Journal of Nutrition, suggests that, for optimal muscle growth, it’s best to consume protein evenly throughout the day. In fact, the skewed amount of protein that many Americans consume may be behind conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia – age-related diseases that result from longtime lifestyle habits (for better or worse) like diet and exercise.

Paddon-Jones and his team came to these conclusions after measuring muscle protein synthesis rates in healthy adults, who consumed similar diets with different daily protein distribution rates. One group consumed 30 grams of protein at each meal, and the other group ate 10 grams at breakfast, 15 at lunch, and 65 at dinner. Lean beef provided the main source of daily protein. The scientists took blood samples and thigh muscle biopsies, which allowed them to track protein synthesis rates over a period of 24 hours.

The 90 grams of protein that test subjects ate is equal to the average amount that healthy U.S. eaters consume. According to the scientists’ previous work, extremely active individuals may benefit from consuming greater amounts of protein, but the average adult may experience a diminishing positive on muscle metabolism.

Those subjects who consumed protein in even amounts throughout the day saw a 25 percent greater muscle protein synthesis after 24 hours. These results remained steady over a period of several days. However, this more-effective way of eating differs greatly from the average modern American diet. When we consider these facts, it seems inevitable that we incorporate a few changes in our diet.

Paddon-Jones offers some simple advice: “You don’t have to eat massive amounts of protein to maximize muscle synthesis, you just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it.”

Start by replacing a portion of your breakfast carbs – especially simple sugars – with high-quality protein, like an egg, glass of milk, or sugar-free yogurt. Top the meal off with a handful of seasonal nuts. Apply the same tactics to lunch, and reduce the amount of protein you eat at dinner.

“Do this,” Paddon-Jones says, “and over the course of the day you will likely spend much more time synthesizing muscle protein.”

Posted on May 29, 2014 and filed under Nutrition.

Moderate Wine Consumption Could Lead To Healthier Kidneys

wineAlcohol consumption is often negatively associated with health issues such as liver damage, nerve damage, and cardiovascular problems. While it’s true that heavy drinking can be dangerous, research has been surfacing over the years that suggests there are actually benefits to moderate alcohol consumption.

Most recently, a study conducted by Tapan Mehta, MD, and his colleagues at the University of Colorado-Denver found that a glass of wine every now and then can keep your kidneys healthy.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), often brought about by diabetes and high blood pressure. CKD can cause weak bones, nerve damage, anemia, and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, so this finding is good news in terms of possible prevention methods.

How much wine should you drink?
The study found that if you drink less than a glass of wine a day, you’re more likely to benefit from its positive effects. Mehta said there wasn’t enough data to determine the effects of drinking two glasses of wine a day.

Mehta and his team used data from a 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, which was given to 5,852 individuals. Of those, 1,031 suffered from CKD. They found that participants who drank less than a glass of wine a day had a 37% lower prevalence of CKD than those who didn’t drink wine at all. Further, those who already had CDK were 29% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than the participants who didn’t drink wine.

Of course, it’s no secret that too much alcohol is a bad thing. Thomas Manley, the National Kidney Foundation’s director of scientific activities, pointed out that heavy drinking can damage kidney function and cause hypertension, which is a major cause of CKD, so adhering to the “less than one glass” rule is important.

How does it work?
It isn’t exactly clear how drinking wine promotes healthy kidney function. In the past, moderate wine consumption has been known to lower protein levels in urine. High levels of protein in those who suffer from CKD can result in the progression of the disease, so there could be a link there.

Wine has also been known to have antioxidant properties, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can help prevent or delay cell damage. In wine, they help increase the levels of “good” cholesterol in your blood and protect arteries from getting damaged.

What other benefits are there?
The National Kidney Foundation reports that heart disease is the major cause of death for all people with CKD.  Mehta told Fox News that drinking small amounts of wine can play a part in promoting a healthy heart.

“Kidney disease shares common risk factors with cardiovascular disease, and previous studies have shown that wine consumption has an association with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population,” he said.

So, if you already suffer from CKD, those antioxidants in the occasional glass of wine could help treat the onset of fatal heart problems.

While these findings are certainly exciting, Mehta stressed that they are not yet indicative of a definite cause-and-effect relationship. Dr. Gary Curhan, a professor of medicine at Harvard School of Public Health, said that the findings are consistent with past research, but if you didn’t drink wine before, the study shouldn’t necessarily serve as a reason to start.

Posted on April 27, 2014 and filed under Nutrition.