Posts Tagged 'crops'

Food is not Medicine

Or is it?  The article does not address the benefits of whole foods.  However, it is good to see this subject matter becoming more mainstream.

Don’t be misled by these food label tricks.

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Dementia – I don’t understand…

The surge of dementia information in the news recently should come as little surprise, with the aging population and increased scrutiny the health of our seniors is placed under. Yes we know more people are developing brain dysfunctions like dementia and we still do not have much to do to effectively treat it, so prevention becomes the key factor. First it has to be said that many theories have been postulated and many ideas proven wrong as to the true cause of dementia. What we do know is that certain people with certain behaviors have a much lower incidence of developing dementia.

The most important thing to do is (and you’ve heard this before) to eat a nutritious diet containing primarily whole raw fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats that are as free as possible of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, etc.  And again, this diet cannot be provided by a fast food chain.  The healthy fats part probably will need to be supplemented with a clean source of omega 3 fatty acid as it is hard these days to consume enough of the right foods to create our ideal fatty acid balance. The whole, raw fruits and vegetables part is also very important because while we need these carbohydrates in our diets what is damaging to our brains (and the rest of our bodies) is the surge of insulin that accompanies the processed sugars and high levels of carbohydrates unbalanced with proteins and fats.

This eating plan has been discussed before; getting closer to nature in our diet will have far reaching benefits to every cell of our bodies and the earth around us. The next thing that we can do is to exercise regularly, both our bodies and our minds. The body exercise is simple, moving our bodies creates reactions that improve our body composition regulate our hormones including insulin and reduce our stress levels. Challenging our minds with reading, puzzles and thought provoking conversation helps to keep us sharp by constantly forming new neural connections and re-firing existing ones extending the plasticity of our brains.

Some of the other factors associated with dementia involve heavy metals in the body; specifically aluminum and mercury.  Admittedly the correlations between metals and dementia is controversial but if there is even a small chance of a link, maybe finding a safer deodorant than one containing aluminum, and would check out alternatives for amalgam dental fillings, as well as the flu shot.

So now when we read the headlines about the coming surge of dementia we can understand what we can do to give us the best possible chance of a clear minded life as we age.  We do not have to feel scared by the headlines implying that dementia is completely unavoidable.  Eat right, exercise your body and mind, and avoid toxins, especially metals, develop a supplement program that includes Omega 3 oils and antioxidants, and know that you are doing your best to protect yourself.

The Fuel in Meat and Potatoes

This is a very interesting article that can be found in the very informative Mother Nature Network blog. http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/health/blogs/the-fuel-in-meat-and-potatoes

Fructose and Semantics – Natural (processed) Born (man-made) Killer (killer)

A current media blitz would have you believe that fructose, specifically high fructose corn syrup (HFCS for short) is not only “healthy in moderation” just like any caloric sweetener but is also chemically the same as table sugar to your body.  Both statements are flat out wrong and misleading.  Sort of like a publicists spin story on a compromising photo of a celebrity that has been splashed across the internet.

First lets get the chemistry out of the way. Your body runs on glucose, a simple sugar.  Fructose is another simple sugar, but here is the shocker, as you can see from the spelling GLUcose and FRUCTose, these two similar simple sugars are not in fact the same thing. Scientists like to name things and whenever new and different things are discovered they get a new name.  So, in fact researchers long ago confirmed that there is a difference between these two molecules and they were given different names. We know when we put glucose into the body certain things happen, a few highlights would be that insulin is released and another hormone called leptin is secreted.  The sugar is then taken into the cells by the insulin and metabolized for energy. Insulin and leptin both signal our brain to stop eating as we have sugar in the blood and therefore any more is excess and thus we are satiated. Many millions of other things happen as well but these two points will help show the case against fructose. When fructose is put into our bodies it is absorbed primarily in the jejunem and processed by the liver never triggering a proportionate insulin release and is readily converted into triglycerides and spurs an increase in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).  No leptin is released in response to fructose so with little insulin and no leptin your brain does not know you are full and more calories are consumed than needed. Fructose also raises our bodies levels of uric acid, and lactic acid neither is a good thing to have more of in you blood, this has damaging effects on the heart and kidneys and liver.

One very important fact about fructose in relation to insulin is that it has an effect on the target cells insulin receptors.  It causes a down regulation so when we do consume glucose we have to pump out more insulin.  This is called “insulin resistance” and this directly leads to diabetes syndrome X and other health problems. As to the idea that HFCS is natural and just like table sugar, both are a mix of fructose and glucose, however HFCS is a mix of the two simple sugars, table sugar is sucrose a disaccharide made of 1 glucose bound to 1 fructose. This bonding makes them behave very differently in our body as we have seen. This is not to say sugar is a good thing to consume in any quantity just that sugar would be preferred over HFCS due to the reasons above. If you are consuming predominatly whole, raw, live, fresh foods then you will not have to worry about this as HFCS does not exist in nature, though it is considered and labeled “natural.” It is natural in the sense that it does at some point come from corn but it is heavily processed and modified from the corn starch from which it started. Mind you, it is not a simple extraction process to make HFCS.  The heavy processing and stripping of other nutrients both micro and macro have much to do with making this sweetner such a harmful product.

We are now seeing another fructose sweetener in processed foods and drinks called “crystalline fructose”.  This is really just like HFCS only with the dial turned up to ten.  It can be much worse for you and can even be found with traces of heavy metals and other poisons in it like arsenic and lead. We should also mention that almost all the HFCS in our food supply is made from genetically modified corn. GM corn is a big problem as the Bt toxin (pesticide) in the plant promotes an allergenic response and many more people are presenting with corn allergies these days. The big issue is that once someone develops an allergy to GM corn then they are also allergic to natural organic corn, and since some form of corn is in almost every meal Americans eat, this becomes a big problem (hence so many different reactions to foods). A little bit of anything can generally be accepted by the body and handled while maintaining health but USDA stats show that HFCS consumption has skyrocketed.  Between the years 1970 and 2005 the average American increased their HFCS intake by 10,673%, that is not moderation. Many correlations have been made between this rise and the rise in modern diseases of degeneration like heart disease, cancer and of course diabetes.  Many factors coexist to nutritionally harm us and lead us down the path of disease but nobody can argue that the huge amount of sugar and in particular HFCS has had nothing to do with our nations health issues.  Not even a great publicist.

Glycemic Diet… yes, it really can matter.

The glycemic index is a measure of the effect a carbohydrate has on a person’s blood glucose level in a two hour period. The glycemic index score of a particular food is a number the amount of rise in blood glucose divided by the standard (glucose) and multiplied by 100.  That gives us the number associated with foods on a GI chart. Eating foods with a lower GI should equate to slower absorption, lower blood glucose rise, and a lower insulin release, therefore lower blood lipid counts. For example white bread will have a very high GI and will therefore enter the bloodstream very quickly and cause a sharp spike in insulin response, causing the fabled sugar rush and insulin crash that so many people experience often.  Eating an avocado on the other hand will have a much lower effect on insulin response and therefore a more even energy release.  Repeatedly spiking insulin and stressing our systems has been shown to lead to insulin resistance and eventually to Type II diabetes, and oxidative vascular damage leading to heart disease.  The GI can be used fairly effectively to smooth out the peaks and valleys of the typical American diet and therefore help one prevent some major disease processes.  There are problems with some GI charts and a few issues with the concept itself. First conceptually the charts are not very precise because the GI of a particular food can change due to ripeness, preparation, and processing.  Second everybody is different and we all digest very differently and nowhere in the GI is there a thought about how the food will effect a person over a long period of time.  Certain things seem like a good idea based on GI charts while we know that they are not, like artificial sweeteners and fructose.  There are so many other problems with these sweeteners that no matter how good they appear on the charts they should never be considered healthy. Some foods labeled as high GI (carrots) are actually so good for you that they should be included in almost any healthy diet. So the glycemic index is not perfect, but it can be used as a general tool to effectively to point you in the right direction towards health.  It is easy to se on a GI chart that breads and pastas will have a more negative effect on blood sugar than vegetables and fruits.  Just one more reason to eat all the fresh fruits and veggies that you can!

Food Inc. Heard of it? You Should.

check out the website and view the trailer here.

Soy – good or bad?

We’ve all been told of the health benefits of soy and have been encouraged to eat it.  Soy, the magical little bean that would solve so many of our health issues. Lately we have been told that soy is not the health panacea that we once thought.  So, what gives, where is the truth? Soy in the forms that we eat most often is a highly processed food possessing all the inherent problems that come along with foods that have been processed. Soy contains compounds that once thought to be helpful have been shown to be harmful to health in a processed form. We have covered processed foods and why they are not beneficial, so let’s look at soy and it’s nutrients and anti-nutrients.

Soy products contain phytic acid, also called phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, but none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the body’s uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc.  Soybeans also contain potent enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes that the body needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not deactivate these harmful “anti-nutrients,” that can cause serious gastric distress, reduce protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.  Beyond these, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues, and cannot help in maintaining good cardiac health. Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both “growth depressant” substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does deactivate both trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinin, precipitation and cooking do not. Even though these enzyme inhibitors are reduced in levels within precipitated soy products like tofu, they are not altogether eliminated.  Isoflavanones are the best known of chemicals in soy, and they can is some ways be useful to certain subsets of the population at later stages of life. They are however very damaging to younger people in that they alter hormonal balance and restrict brain development in infants.

It is also interesting to note that 85% of the United States soy crops are genetically modified and it is amazing that there is still no FDA required safety tests for genetically modified foods.  One study in rats who were fed soy and genetically modified soy showed that 8x the number of rats fed genetically modified soy died during the test as opposed to the control group.   Do you know where the soy you consume comes from?

In Asian cultures they tend to eat soy that is fermented (miso, tempeh,natto) and do not, amazingly enough, eat more soy than the United States.  Fermented soy is most likely it’s only saving grace because the fermenting process virtually eliminates all the bad nutritional aspects mentioned.

Bottom line… soy, like all food, is best in its natural, true form.  For most foods that would also mean raw.  However, soy has traditionally only been used in fermented form.  So eat close to nature, whole, raw and live, except soy which should only be considered in quantity after fermintation with live cultures.