Smart Nutrition Notes – February 2014
Welcome to February and the beauty of the snow for many of us in New England. Another storm is headed our way so many of us are beginning to suffer from cabin fever! This is a perfect time of year to throw on a pair of boots or snow shoes to get out and enjoy the snow, the fresh air and the sunshine.
Don’t forget February is American Heart Health Month so the exercise will be good for you while the sunshine will help produce vitamin D which also protects your heart. Another great benefit is that the sunshine will work wonders for your mood.
Speaking of heart health, our topic this month is about Food as Medicine in a way that may surprise you. Be sure to click the link and read the full article which also includes a list of terrific foods (with a recipe) that can help improve heart health, reduce inflammation and provide a number of other healthy benefits.
Since the last newsletter I’ve also launched a blog at smartnutritionblog.com. Be sure to check it out.
And finally, remember to spread some peace and love around on Valentine’s Day to your loved ones and those you care about. That’s good for your heart too!
Food as Medicine: Healing Yourself with Food
Did you know that an apple a day is as effective as a statin drug? Statisticians in England explored the question: which would be better for everyone over age 50, to eat an apple a day or take a cholesterol lowering pill? The researchers found that the gain would about the same with either plan.
Whole foods are an underused yet incredibly effective source of phytochemicals, fiber, nutrients and compounds which can have a profound effect on our health.
We all know that apples taste better than drugs, are less expensive, and don’t create side effects! Statins on the other hand have become under increased scrutiny. We used to think there were few side effects associated with these drugs but now know up to 20% of statin users have experienced serious side effects. Statins are associated with muscle pain and damage, liver damage, increased blood sugar levels (and Type 2 Diabetes), Digestive and Neurological problems (Ref: Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart Program), as well as damage to the mitochondria.
Mitochondria are little cellular furnaces that are the single most important factor in healthy aging and wellness. Read more on this issue HERE.
Many of the medications that are on the market today are designed to treat symptoms not effect a cure and most have harmful side effects. More importantly, people don’t get heart disease because they have a statin drug deficiency.
Most of the diseases that Americans suffer from including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and stroke are lifestyle diseases which can be prevented through nutrition, exercise, stress management and antismoking campaigns. Even if you have a genetic propensity toward a particular disease whether or not you actually get the disease depends, in large part, on how you live your life.
The best way this was ever explained to me is the following: The gun represents your genes, but your lifestyle pulls the trigger. Graphic, I know, but it sure gets the point across.
Nutrition plays a major role in preventing disease as well as how you look and feel on a daily basis. As Hippocrates said many centuries ago, “Let food be thy medicine.”
There are many foods that have medicinal qualities. The best way for you to be sure that you are getting lots of them in your diet is by spending more time in the outer periphery aisles of the grocery store with special emphasis on the produce aisle. Here are just a few suggestions:
1. Onions — In addition to cancer fighting enzymes, the sulfides in onions help to lower blood pressure. In addition they have super antioxidant power, as well as quercitin and high levels of C which battle hay fever, the common cold and the flu. The antioxidants in onions and other sulfur-rich veggies tamp down the inflammation that leads to acne and many other challenges in the body.
2. Tart cherries — These little gems also help to tamp down the inflammatory response. They contain quercitin and ellagic acid which have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors. Their red color is produced by a pigment called anthocyanin, which is linked to a reduction of uric acid, a substance that leads to gout. Cherries have been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, heart disease and stroke. In addition, there is some good evidence that cherry juice can have an impact on insomnia.
3. Fermented foods — These probiotic foods can help to reduce high cholesterol levels in our blood, strengthen and support our digestive and immune systems, thereby helping our bodies to fight off diseases. Olives, pickles, grass-fed cheese, wine, yogurt, sauerkraut and the seasoned, aged sausages the French call “charcuterie” are some of this category’s most popular delicacies. Be careful. There is a vast difference between healthy fermented foods and commercially processed foods such as brined pickles and olives and sugar-laden yogurt.
4. Dried Beans and Peas — In addition to lowering cholesterol, dried peas and beans regulate blood sugar and insulin production which is great for controlling weight and as well as lowering risk for disease, particularly heart disease and diabetes. They are also full of fiber for gastrointestinal track health and phytochemicals to protect cells from cancerous activity.
5. Apples — You know the saying, “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away.” Turns out according to the study above, it’s true. Apples are loaded with antioxidants, and contain about 4 grams of fiber per serving. This fiber is called pectin, a soluble fiber, that can help to lower blood cholesterol levels and keep the digestive system healthy.
6. Kale — Chock full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, kale has an amazing array of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and iron. As a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and cabbage, it contains high levels of cancer fighting sulforophane and indoles which protects against prostate, gastric, skin, and breast cancers, as well as cervical and colon cancer. It’s also good for your bones.
7. Carrots — A great source of potent antioxidant, carrots also contain carotenoids which have been linked to decreased risk for cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. They also play a role in heart disease prevention and stimulation of the immune system. Lutein and zeaxanthin found in carrots are also important for eye health, particularly macular degeneration.
8. Garlic — This great addition to the flavor of food is known for significantly lowering LDL cholesterol without changing HDL cholesterol (the “good “cholesterol). There is also some evidence garlic lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, prevent clots by decreasing stickiness of platelets which lowers risk for heart disease and stroke. Due to its anti-inflammatory effect it is known to reduce pain and other symptoms associated with inflammation. One of the oldest uses of garlic, however, is as an antibiotic. Garlic kills a range of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
9. Blueberries — Packed with phytoflavinoids and antioxidants, these berries are high in vitamin C and potassium. One study found that consuming a cup of blueberries a week can lower blood pressure due mostly to the high levels of anthocyanins. Another study suggests blueberries can lower levels of LDL potentially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Blueberries may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.
10. Fatty fish — An excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids which lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may possibly help with memory loss and Alzheimer’s. Good sources are wild salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel.
These are just a sampling of the foods that have medicinal qualities. The closer to nature you make your food choices the more powerful your diet will be in helping you create ideal health. Eating this way doesn’t need to be complicated either. Check out this month’s Healthy Recipe for Kale and White Bean Soup. This simple, delicious soup takes about 40 to 45 minutes to make and contains 5 of the foods outlined above.
Simple, Healthy, Delicious!
Click here for the Recipe (pdf)
We started a Clean & Lean Program in January in our Amherst office and participants are already getting great results.This healthy approach is designed to help reduce toxins which may be slowing your metabolism, causing inflammation, making you feel sluggish, and making it difficult to lose weight. If you’d like more info on our next group or to start individually, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In mid-February, we are starting an Intuitive Eating Program which was created to help individuals achieve long term weight loss and maintenance by rejecting a diet mentality and creating a more nurturing relationship with food and eating. This program will be offered out of our Peterborough office and it’s not too late to join us. Just let me know at email@example.com.
In March we are planning an Intuitive Eating Program in our Amherst, NH facility. As mentioned, this program is designed to move the individual away from strict programs and diets toward a better relationship with food and eating. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Smart Nutrition has expanded its services to include phone and onlinecounseling.This is a great way for you to access our services if you live outside of Southern NH or if you prefer to receive services in the comfort of your own home.
Not sure if working with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist is right for you? No worries. Just call me at 603-924-9505 to set up a free ½ hour screening appointment.