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Thou Shall Let Food Be Thy Medicine

 The magical elixir to a healthy life  taste great too according to this written by BRIAN SYUKI.  Hormonal imbalances and inflammation are common conditions in the U.S. They are often the culprit behind symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, headaches and bloating. Unfortunately they can also increase the risk of more serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.The good news? Eating certain foods will help balance your hormones and reduce inflammation. To help lower your risk for disease,  in addition to weight loss goes beyond “calories in, calories out.” Balancing hormones and reducing inflammation will help you reach your weight goal faster, so eat these superfoods  frequently. READ MORE



Nutrition and Diet Trends

Overall diets have changed dramatically over the past century. Food selections, availability and science are constantly evolving, and new trends are emerging for foods that we consume. Some of the current and most prominent diet trends include flexitarian, organic, functional/value, and gluten-free diets. Knowing the facts about these nutrition trends can help you make more informed diet decisions.

The Good, the Bad and What You Need to Know

The Flexitarian Diet

Designed for those who aren’t ready to embrace a full vegetarian diet, the flexitarian diet balances a decreased consumption of meat with more produce. This diet is receiving positive feedback by the nutrition community as it encourages eating more healthful vegetarian foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and fresh produce while being flexible in the amount of meat eaten.

The diet plan has three levels:

• Beginner – 2 meatless days a week with 5-6 oz. of meat-based protein consumed on each of the other 5 days

• Advanced – 3 or 4 meatless days a week with 6 oz. of meat-based protein consumed on each of the other 3 days

• Expert – 5 meatless days a week with 9-10 oz. of meat-based protein consumed per week

One of the benefits of this diet is the ease of reducing the consumption of meat while enjoying more produce. It also provides a smooth transition for those who do not care for the taste of protein replacements but want to slowly wean themselves from meat.

Another positive: this diet encourages more complete whole grains as protein complements. New research suggests that people who consume several servings of whole grains per day, while limiting daily intake of refined grains, appear to have less fat tissue thought to trigger cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

One area of concern, however, is that the flexitarian diet may not contain enough complete proteins for growth and maturation or provide enough protein for athletes. If one is not fully committed to the responsibility of obtaining proteins; this diet can cause health complications.

Organic Diets

Influenced by the seasonality and the locality of foods, these diets focus on sustainable consumerism and choosing foods that are good for you as well as for the Earth. Among these foods are organic and raw foods. Often debated, organic foods are not exposed to pesticides and other chemicals thought to be harmful when consumed and bad for the environment. Organic livestock farmers do not use antibiotics or hormones, thought to cause different types of cancer, to prevent disease and spur growth in animals. Raw foods are not prepackaged or cooked, keeping them rich in flavor and nutrients.

Because organic foods can be 50 to 100 percent more expensive, experts encourage consumers to spend their food dollars wisely by carefully choosing between organic and conventional items. Produce and foods that a family eats most often are most important to spend extra on. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., recommends choosing organic at least for produce with the highest pesticide residues. These selections include produce with thin or no skin such as apples, pears, peaches, berries, all leafy greens, peppers, celery and potatoes. Raw food sales are on the move. Susan Baker, marketing leader at Whole Foods Market–Greenlife Grocery agrees and notes an emerging trend towards a completely raw foods diet and the nutritional benefits.

Experts all agree that a diet high in fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables, is good for one’s health. However, there is some concern for diets based entirely on raw foods. Andrea N. Giancoli, M.P.H., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in Los Angeles, says in the journalEatingWell, “There’s no doubt that plant-based diets have been linked with a lower risk of obesity and other chronic diseases, but because the raw-foods diet is so restrictive, its followers are at risk for deficiencies of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. And the diet isn’t based on science: cooking destroys some nutrients, but it makes others (like the lycopene in tomatoes) more absorbable.”

Functional/Value Diets

According to Cornell University, decreasing consumption volume and placing a focus on eating healthy foods is the cornerstone of the functional or value diet. The consumer is motivated to build a meal plan around foods that offer more than just taste and calories, thus getting more nutrient value from foods. The focus of this diet is on the function of the foods and benefits they provide.

A functional diet might include foods with added bioflavonoid and probiotics such as yogurt and dairy products to regulate intestinal health. This diet often includes exotic fruits (or “superfruits”) such as mangosteen, goji berries, and noni that have a high nutrient and antioxidant content. Research supports that adults can increase their chances of maintaining healthy brain activity by adding certain functional foods and beverages to their diets. For example, dark chocolate provides natural stimulants like caffeine to enhance concentration, and nuts and seeds provide good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant associated with preventing cognitive decline. Coldwater fatty fish is an excellent functional food as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and are thought to play a vital role in enhancing memory.

No one challenges the benefits of this type of diet other than to advise that foods are balanced across meals.

Gluten-Free Diet

The gluten-free craze is another diet trend that’s becoming hard to ignore. This diet has increased in popularity over the last few years partly as a result of greater awareness and improved diagnosis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by exposure to gluten. Additionally, there has been a mass movement toward gluten-free products by those who have self-diagnosed gluten intolerance, believe a gluten-free diet is a healthier way of eating, or believe that it can help to help reduce weight. Since 2004, the gluten-free market has experienced an average annual growth rate of 28 percent. Today, less than one percent of the population has celiac disease; however, marketers believe that between 15 and 25 percent of consumers want gluten-free products.

The good news is that consumers who are following a gluten-free diet are usually eating less white and processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Another positive is that the trend has motivated manufacturers to provide more high-quality, gluten-free foods that the truly intolerant would normally not have access to. In the past, many gluten-free foods have been based on nutrient-poor ingredients, such as potato and corn starches, with xanthan and guar gum to improve texture.

The bad news is that people who have diagnosed themselves as gluten intolerant are missing an exact diagnosis from a doctor and could be incorrectly treating symptoms related to another health issue. Unless carefully managed, gluten-free diets can be deficient in vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free foods can also be very expensive and some can have high values of fat and sugar added by manufacturers to make them more appealing. Dieticians are increasingly advising true gluten intolerant sufferers to follow a naturally gluten-free diet.

Be Informed, Be Balanced

There is one thing on which experts agree: regardless of the diet you choose, eat plenty of produce and maintain a balanced diet. National guidelines recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to take advantage of their diverse nutritional benefits. A balanced diet is important, no matter what trend you may choose to follow.






How Much Meat versus Veggies?


Lets try to settle this debate. Meat or no Meat. With Ph.D   Sarah Ballantyne, . a.k.a. The Paleo Mom we’ll find out ….

In the first two parts of this series (here and here), I looked at the (hotly debated!) question of whether humans are innate herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores from a variety of scientific angles: evolutionary history, surveys of modern hunter-gatherers, clues from our primate relatives, comparative anatomy, and our unique genetic adaptations to starch and dairy.

Yes, Part 1 and Part 2 contained A LOT of information, but I promise the goal wasn’t to drown you in a geek-fest of facts and figures! I wanted to demonstrate that no matter which angle we approach it from, the answer is the same: humans are very clearly omnivores. Our need for (and adaptation to) both plants and animals is written all over our history, anatomy, and DNA. The rationale for claiming otherwise doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny, no matter what’s floating around on The Google and in Facebook memes!

But, that brings us to another important issue: we might be omnivores in a general sense, but what exactly does that mean? How much animal versus plant products should we be eating? How much meat do we really need in order to be healthy? How many vegetables does it take to cover our phytochemical bases? How far can we tilt in the direction of mostly plants or mostly animals before we start running into trouble? In other words, how do we do this omnivore thing the right way?

The short answer to all these questions is, “There’s no exact answer!” Your nutritional needs depend on a huge number of factors, ranging from your health status to your activity level to your age to your genetics (and that’s just scratching the surface of relevant variables). But, we can still estimate what to shoot for as an average based on the available evidence, both observational and clinical. And a good place to start is with hunter-gatherer populations, who’ve figured out how to feed generation after generation of healthy, chronic-disease-free humans. Let’s dive in!

More Clues from Hunter-Gatherers

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the exact menu of our early ancestors is impossible to piece together without a time machine. (And that’s totally okay! This isn’t an historical reenactment. Rather, understanding what our Paleolithic ancestors ate is a starting point for understanding what shaped our nutritional needs and how to best feed our bodies now.) We do, however, have plenty of evidence from more recent hunter-gatherer populations that showcase what kinds of plant and animal food combinations can deliver awesome health.

A widely cited paper by Loren Cordain, et al. analyzed data for 229 hunter-gatherer societies (as recorded in an ethnographic atlas), and found that the vast majority of tribes ate between 45 and 65% of their diet as animal foods (as a percent of total energy), with 35 to 55% of their diet coming from plants. (Tribes that fell outside those ranges were typically from polar regions (like the Inuit), where genetic mutations made it possible to thrive on an extremely high meat intake, or equatorial regions, where the greater bounty of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits skewed the ratio more towards plant foods.) Because many of those 229 tribes were from North America (where hunting dominated) and relatively fewer were from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America (where starchy or fatty plant foods were a frequent staple), the average proportion of plant foods might be a bit higher in reality than Cordain’s analysis reflected. (For instance, the !Kung bushmen of southern Africa ate about 33% of their diet as meat and 67% of their diet as plant foods, because they made use of the energy-dense mongongo nut in lieu of a higher animal food intake.)

So, as a ballpark figure, we could say that hunter-gatherers average about half of their diet (calorie-wise) as animal foods and about half as plant foods—with lots of wiggle room thrown in on either side! What’s for certain is that whenever both meat and vegetation is abundant, humans tend to gravitate towards a truly omnivorous diet that’s about equal parts plants and animal, rather than anything nearly herbivorous or nearly carnivorous. That ensures a broad micronutrient intake and plenty of fiber, phytochemicals, high-quality protein, and essential fats. For those of us who can only hunt and gather in the supermarket, 50-50 is still a pretty safe ratio to aim for!

But wait! Keep in mind that 50% of your dietary calories from one type of food isn’t the same as 50% of your dietary volume from that food (that is, how much space it takes up on your dinner plate). Meat and other animal products tend to be much more energy-dense relative to most plant foods (for an extreme example, one cup of beef steak has 338 calories, whereas one cup of raw spinach has only 7 calories!). That means that a meal containing an assortment of vegetables, plus a smaller portion of meat, fish, or eggs could easily come out to be a 50/50 ratio of calories from plants versus animals—even though it looks like more plant foods to the naked eye. Tricky, eh?

So, what does that mean for how you should plan your diet? Although both plants and animals can vary in their energy density (bone marrow is more dense than chicken breast, and a sweet potato is more dense than broccoli), it’s typically safe to say that if you aim for a diet of approximately 50% plants and 50% animals, the plants will take up more visual space in each meal and the animal foods will take up less—typically on the order of plant foods taking up 2/3 to 3/4 of your plate.

But, the last thing I want you to do is haul around a calculator every time you eat in order get the 50-50 ratio exactly right. Keep in mind, indigenous populations have stayed healthy on a wide spectrum of plant-to-animal-food ratios (as well as macronutrient ratios, which I wrote about here!). It’s only at the extremes that things get sketchy. Even if your ratio ends up being closer to 25/75 or 75/25 or if it varies fairly wildly between those two day by day, you’ll probably be just fine as long as you’re choosing from high-quality, nutrient-rich foods. Which brings us to…

Nutrients: Getting The Best of Both Kingdoms (Plant and Animal!)

When it comes to our omnivorous diet, keep in mind that we get different nutritional needs met through animal foods versus plants. It’s not a competition between these two kingdoms, where one is “better” or “worse” than the other; both play a distinct but equally valuable role! In fact, there’s a huge spectrum of micronutrients and other beneficial compounds found mostly or exclusively in either plant foods or animal foods, such as:

Plant Foods

  • Vitamin C
  • Carotenoids (lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin)
  • Diallyl sulfide (from the allium class of vegetables)
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, procyanidins, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, flavonones)
  • Dithiolethiones
  • Lignans
  • Plant sterols and stanols
  • Isothiocyanates and indoles
  • Prebiotic fibers (soluble and insoluble)

Animal Foods

  • Vitamin B12
  • Heme iron
  • Zinc
  • Pre-formed vitamin A (retinol)
  • High-quality protein
  • Creatine
  • Taurine
  • Carnitine
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin D
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)

The fact is that there’s nutrients we can only get from plants and nutrients we can only get from animal foods: we need both to get the full complement of nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. Instead of fighting about whether bacon rules and vegetables suck (or vice versa), we should be celebrating the fact that the plant and animal kingdoms are both totally awesome and necessary for health!

With that in mind, how can we choose a diet that gives us the best nutritional bang for the buck (and, y’know, helps protect us from chronic disease, maximizes our chances of having a long and healthy life, makes us feel awesome, and tastes delicious to boot)? We already know that the Western diet is abysmally low in micronutrients (especially compared to other primates and human populations eating wild foods instead of heavily processed storebought fare).

A good rule of thumb is to eat abundantly from the most micronutrient-rich foods of both plant and animal origin. While the idea of sticking with “whole foods” is a great guideline, there are definitely some standouts in the food world that can take an omnivorous diet to the next level:

  1. Shellfish and fish. Unless you have an allergy, seafood like oysters, mussels, salmon, mackerel, and fish eggs are amazing sources of minerals (especially oysters, which are the King of Zinc!), omega-3 fats in the form of DHA and EPA, selenium and iodine, and vitamin D. (Read more about why seafood rocks here, and what to make of the mercury issue here!)
  2. Organ meats. Have I mentioned lately how much I love organ meats?! While grass-fed muscle meats are totally delicious, organ meats are nutritional rockstars, serving as the most concentrated source of almost every nutrient (seriously). Liver, heart, kidney, and more are all great to try, and I promise they’re not as scary as they seem, even if they give you terrifying flashbacks to childhood. (If you want to read more about why I gush so hard on organ meats, click here!)
  3. Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, and arugula. And, they offer some of the most consistently proven health benefits of any plant food, showing up in study after study as powerfully cancer-protective due to their array of phytochemicals (especially isothiocyanates and indoles). Load up and read more about why they are a non-issue for thyroid health concerns here.
  4. Leafy greens. Leafy greens are packed with a huge spectrum of micronutrients and beneficial compounds (like beta-carotene, folate, lutein, and vitamin K), especially relative to their calorie content. Basically, adding some leafy greens to any meal will instantly boost its vitamin and mineral content while also delivering fiber and flavor. Let’s take a hint from the chimps here and chow down on some leaves!
  5. Fermented foods. Delicious and absolutely nutritious; what’s not to love? Fermented foods are an amazing source of healthy bacteria, and not to mention, the fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients naturally present in the food. There’s a reason nearly every traditional culture includes some form of fermented food in their cuisine. (Read more here!)

Add these to a menu already rich in nutrient-dense whole foods (quality meats, other colorful vegetables, glycine-rich foods like bone broth, fruit, quality fats, starchy roots and tubers), and you’ll have an omnivorous diet that gets the best of both the plant and animal kingdoms, supporting your health in the process. As long as you don’t veer too far towards all-plants or all-animals, your micronutrient and macronutrient bases should be easily covered!

Remember, being an omnivore means being able to benefit from everything nature provides—whether it came from a plant or an animal (er, or insect!). It’s all about making wise choices within the giant spectrum of foods that the “omnivore” umbrella allows.

Take-Away Message

So, although the “are we herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?” issue is obviously a hot topic, it should be clear by now that we can truly put the question to rest. Every scientific avenue leads to the conclusion that we’re omnivores—whether we approach it from an evolutionary angle, an ethnographic one, or comparative anatomy and physiology.

Perhaps the better label is the word “nutrivore”, meaning that we choose foods based on their nutritive value, the quantity and quality of micronutrients they provide, and aiming for diversity of nutrients in order to get the full complement of nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. And guess what? The Paleo Diet—especially one that embraces seafood, organ meat, and large portions of veggies—is a nutrients-first approach consistent with all of this evidence!


SOURCE… Sent from my iPhone

Why One Diet Affects People Differently

Ever try the same diet with a friend or loved one and get two different results? In this article,  we’ll dive deeper into why the results may or may have not been what you were looking for as we will began to understand the physiological reasons why a diet does or does not work.

Q. My neighbor and I went on a low-fat diet together. She lost weight and I didn’t. Why?

A. Assuming you both ate the same amount of calories, differences in body composition (percent body fat versus muscle), frequency of past dieting attempts and amount of physical activity could influence your results. Differences could also be related to the amount of insulin your body secretes after meals.

Insulin is a hormone that converts blood sugar into energy for cells. A study published in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a relationship between insulin levels and success with different diet plans; 73 obese young adults were assigned to either a low-glycemic load diet (40 percent carbohydrate, 35 percent fat) or to a low-fat diet (55 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent fat). The study lasted 18 months. Researchers wanted to learn why some people have success with low-fat diets and others don’t. Although will power can play a role, sometimes there’s more to the story.

Food and drinks that are high in processed carbohydrates such as sodas and white rice have a high glycemic load. This means, they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar after they are eaten. Low-glycemic-load foods are sometimes called “slow carbs” because they enter the blood gradually and have less effect on blood sugar. They include vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains and starchy beans.

In this study, participants who secrete insulin slowly lost equally on both diets. In contrast, those with high insulin levels lost more weight on the low-glycemic-load diet (12.8 pounds) compared with the low-fat diet (2.6 pounds).

In people who pump out a lot of insulin in an exaggerated response to sugary foods and processed starches, reducing the glycemic load of the diet may keep insulin levels steady.

Past studies on low-glycemic-load diets produced mixed results. Sometimes they showed weight loss, sometimes not. This may be because nobody compared insulin levels in the participants!

Just because you’re overweight does not mean your body produces excess insulin. The only way to know is by having your doctor do an oral glucose tolerance test.

When it comes to weight control, one size does not fit all. If you’ve had trouble losing weight on a low-fat diet, you may want to try decreasing the glycemic load in your diet.




Your Genes Respond To The Foods You Eat

What should we eat? Answers abound in the media, all of which rely on their interpretation of recent medical literature to come up with recommendations for the healthiest diet. But what if you could answer this question at a molecular level — what if you could find out how our genes respond to the foods we eat, and what this does to the cellular processes that make us healthy — or not? That’s precisely what biologists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have done.

If you could ask your genes to say what kinds of foods are best for your health, they would have a simple answer: one-third protein, one-third fat and one-third carbohydrates. That’s what recent genetic research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) shows is the best recipe to limit your risk of most lifestyle-related diseases.

Food affects gene expression

NTNU researchers Ingerid Arbo and Hans-Richard Brattbakk have fed slightly overweight people different diets, and studied the effect of this on gene expression. Gene expression refers to the process where information from a gene’s DNA sequence is translated into a substance, like a protein, that is used in a cell’s structure or function.

“We have found that a diet with 65% carbohydrates, which often is what the average Norwegian eats in some meals, causes a number of classes of genes to work overtime,” says Berit Johansen, a professor of biology at NTNU. She supervises the project’s doctoral students and has conducted research on gene expression since the 1990s.

“This affects not only the genes that cause inflammation in the body, which was what we originally wanted to study, but also genes associated with development of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, dementia, and type 2 diabetes — all the major lifestyle-related diseases,” she says.

Common dietary advice and chronic disease

These findings undercut most of the underpinnings for the diets you’ve heard will save you. Dietary advice abounds, and there is a great deal of variation as to how scientifically justified it is. But it is only now that researchers are figuring out the relationship between diet, digestion and the effect on one’s health and immune system — so they can now say not only what kinds of foods are healthiest, but why.

“Both low-carb and high-carb diets are wrong,” says Johansen. “But a low-carb diet is closer to the right diet. A healthy diet shouldn’t be made up of more than one-third carbohydrates (up to 40 per cent of calories) in each meal, otherwise we stimulate our genes to initiate the activity that creates inflammation in the body.”

This is not the kind of inflammation that you would experience as pain or an illness, but instead it is as if you are battling a chronic light flu-like condition. Your skin is slightly redder, your body stores more water, you feel warmer, and you’re not on top mentally. Scientists call this metabolic inflammation.

A powdered diet

Johansen and her colleagues conducted two studies. The first was to determine what type of research methods they would use to answer the questions they had. In the pilot study (28 days) five obese men ate real food, while in the second study, 32 slightly overweight men and women (mainly students) ate specially made powdered food.

Participants in the latter study were randomly assigned to go six days on a diet with 65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, with the rest of the calories from protein (15 percent) and fat (20 percent), then a week with no diet. Then came the six days on a diet with half the carbs and twice as much protein and fat as in the first diet. There were blood tests before and after each dieting period.

The amount of food each person ate was calculated so that their weight would remain stable and so that equal portions were consumed evenly over six meals throughout the day.

The researchers had help developing diets from Fedon Lindberg, a medical doctor who specializes in internal medicine and who promotes low-glycaemic diets, Inge Lindseth, an Oslo dietician who specializes in diabetes, and Ann-Kristin de Soysa, a dietician who works with obese patients at St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim.

“We wanted to know exactly what the subjects were getting in terms of both macro- and micronutrients,” says Johansen, -“A tomato doesn’t contain a consistent amount of nutrients, or antioxidants, for example. So make sure we had a handle on the health effects, we had to have accurate accounting of nutrients. That’s why we chose the powdered diets for the main study.”

Solving the control problem

Diet studies that compare different diets with different amounts of fat are often criticized with the argument that it is difference in the amount of omega-3 fatty acids that causes the health effects, not the rest of the food intake.

The researchers addressed this problem by having the same amount of omega-3 and omega-6 in both diets, although the amount of fat in general was different in the diets that were tested. The researchers also avoided another common problem: the natural variation in gene expression between humans.

“Each of our study subjects was able to be his or her own control person, ” Johansen says “Every subject was allowed to go on both diets, with a one-week break in between the diets, and half began with one diet, while the rest started with the other diet.”

Blood tests were conducted before and after each diet period. All of the measurements of changes in gene expression were done so that each individual’s difference in gene expression was compared with that person alone. The results were then compiled.

Johnson says the studies resulted in two important findings. One is the positive effect of many meals throughout the day, and the details about the quality and composition of components in an optimal diet, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The second is that a carbohydrate-rich diet, regardless of whether or not a person overeats, has consequences for genes that affect the lifestyle diseases, she says.

A way to measure genetic temperature

Throughout the study, researchers surveyed the extent to which various genes were working normally or overtime. An aggregate measure of the results of all of this genetic activity is called gene expression. It can almost be considered a measurement of the genetic temperature of the body’s state of health.

“We are talking about collecting a huge amount of information,” says Johansen.

“And it’s not like there is a gene for inflammation, for example. So what we look for is whether there are any groups of genes that work overtime. In this study we saw that an entire group of genes that are involved in the development of inflammatory reactions in the body work overtime as a group.”

It was not only inflammatory genes that were putting in overtime, as it would turn out. Some clusters of genes that stood out as overactive are linked to the most common lifestyle diseases.

“Genes that are involved in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer respond to diet, and are up-regulated, or activated, by a carbohydrate-rich diet,” says Johansen.

Johansen is not a cancer researcher, and is not claiming that it is possible to eliminate your risk of a cancer diagnosis by eating. But she thinks it is worth noting that the genes that we associate with disease risk can be influenced by diet.

“We’re not saying that you can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s if you eat right, but it seems sensible to reduce the carbohydrates in our diets,” she suggests.

“We need more research on this,” Johansen adds. “It seems clear that the composition and quantity of our diets can be key in influencing the symptoms of chronic disease. It is important to distinguish between diet quality and quantity, both clearly have very specific effects.”

The body’s arms race

Johansen argues that diet is the key to controlling our personal genetic susceptibility to disease. In choosing what we eat, we choose whether we will provide our genes the weapons that cause disease. The immune system operates as if it is the body’s surveillance authority and police. When we consume too many carbohydrates and the body is triggered to react, the immune system mobilizes its strength, as if the body were being invaded by bacteria or viruses.

“Genes respond immediately to what they have to work with. It is likely that insulin controls this arms race,” Johansen says. “But it’s not as simple as the regulation of blood sugar, as many believe. The key lies in insulin’s secondary role in a number of other mechanisms. A healthy diet is about eating specific kinds of foods so that that we minimize the body’s need to secrete insulin. The secretion of insulin is a defense mechanism in response to too much glucose in the blood, and whether that glucose comes from sugar or from non-sweet carbohydrates such as starches (potatoes, white bread, rice, etc.), doesn’t really matter.”

Avoid the fat trap!

The professor warns against being caught up in the fat trap. It’s simply not good to cut out carbs completely, she says. “The fat/protein trap is just as bad as the carbohydrate trap. It’s about the right balance, as always.”

She says we must also make sure to eat carbohydrates, proteins and fats in five to six smaller meals, not just for the main meal, at dinner.

“Eating several small and medium-sized meals throughout the day is important. Don’t skip breakfast and don’t skip dinner. One-third of every meal should be carbohydrates, one-third protein and one-third fat. That’s the recipe for keeping inflammatory and other disease-enhancing genes in check,” Johansen explains.

Change is quick

Johansen has some encouraging words, however, for those of us who have been eating a high carbohydrate diet. “It took just six days to change the gene expression of each of the volunteers,” she says, “so it’s easy to get started. But if you want to reduce your likelihood of lifestyle disease, this new diet will have to be a permanent change.”

Johansen stressed that researchers obviously do not have all the answers to the relationship between diet and food yet. But the trends in the findings, along with recent scientific literature, make it clear that the recommendation should be for people to change their dietary habits.

Otherwise, an increasing number of people will be afflicted with chronic lifestyle diseases.

The new food balance sheet

Most of us think it is fine to have foods that you can either eat or not eat, whether it comes to carbohydrates or fats. So how will we know what to put on our plates?

Do we have to both count calories and weigh our food now?

“Of course you can be that careful,” says Johansen. “But you will come a long way just by making some basic choices. If you cut down on boiled root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, and replace the white bread with a few whole meal slices, such as rye bread, or bake your own crispbread, you will reduce the amount of bad carbohydrates in your diet quite significantly. Furthermore, remember to eat protein and fat at every meal, including breakfast!”

Salad also contains carbohydrates

Johansen explains that many of us do not realize that all the fruits and vegetables we eat also count as carbohydrates — and that it’s not just sweet carbohydrates that we should watch out for.

“Salad is made up of carbohydrates,” says Johansen. “But you have to eat a lot of greens to get a lot of calories. Steamed broccoli is a great alternative to boiled potatoes. Fruit is good, but you have to be careful not to eat large quantities of the high-glycemic fruits at one time. Variety is important.”

The best is to cut down on potatoes, rice and pasta, and to allow ourselves some of the good stuff that has long been in the doghouse in the refrigerator.

“Instead of light products, we should eat real mayonnaise and sour cream,” Johansen says, “and have real cream in your sauce, and eat oily fish. That said, we should still remember not to eat too much food, either at each meal or during the day. Fat is twice as calorie-rich as carbohydrates and proteins, so we have to keep that in mind when planning the sizes of our portions. Fat is also different. We shouldn’t eat too much saturated animal fat, but monounsaturated vegetable fats and polyunsaturated marine fats are good.”

Fountain-of-youth genes

Johansen’s research also shows that some genes are not up-regulated, but rather the opposite — they calm down rather than speed up.

“It was interesting to see the reduction in genetic activity, but we were really happy to see which genes were involved. One set of genes is linked to cardiovascular disease. They were down-regulated in response to a balanced diet, as opposed to a carbohydrate-rich diet,” she says. Another gene that was significantly differently expressed by the diets that were tested was one that is commonly called “the youth gene” in the international research literature.

“We haven’t actually stumbled on the fountain of youth here,” Johansen laughs, “but we should take these results seriously. The important thing for us is, little by little, we are uncovering the mechanisms of disease progression for many of our major lifestyle-related disorders.”

Johansen’s research has been supported by NTNU and Central Norway Regional Health Authority. Other key partners have been Mette Langaas, a statistician and associate professor of mathematics at NTNU, Dr. Bard Kulseng of the Regional Center for Morbid Obesity at St Olavs Hospital, and Martin Kuiper, a professor of systems biology at NTNU.







How to Eat and Drink Like an Olympian

Many American households, have got their  TV  tuned to one thing since August 5: the Olympic Games in Rio. It’s always fun to watch the athletes really going for it and there has been plenty to keep us tuned in, like the colorful rivalry between American swimmer Michael Phelps and his South African foe, Chad le Clos.

Fueling for Fitness

While the athletes always make everything look effortless, so much goes into their training in order to prepare them for competition. Not only does it take hours of exercise to hone their muscles, improve their speed and sharpen their mental focus , they also spend a lot of time fueling up before practice and eating to properly recover so they can train again the next day. Diet is a key part of an athlete’s training program.

The U.S. women’s soccer team was unfortunately knocked out of the competition by Sweden last week. But Julie Johnston, a pro soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars and a defender for the U.S. women’s national team trained hard to get to Rio. I had a chance to speak with Johnston leading up to the games and was impressed with the focus she places on eating healthy. In fact, she looks at it as her secret weapon. “You’re trying to find your edge in the sport and obviously, nutrition is one of them,” she says.

With about four hours of daily training, Johnston likes to fuel up with a big breakfast that consists of eggs  and toast or cereal, then she eats fruit closer to game time. Immediately after a game, her strength and conditioning coach serves the team smoothies with protein powder to help the athletes refuel quickly and get muscle repair underway. Following the smoothie, Johnston eats diced fresh mango to re-energize and get her appetite back before eating a full meal later on. Prior to Rio, she also worked on upping her hydration by adding electrolyte packets to her water bottles. She also focuses on foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric.

Energy to Burn

Bob Seebohar is a sports dietitian who works with Olympic-level and recreational athletes of all ages, abilities and sports through eNRG Performance. I picked Seebohar’s brain to get a glimpse into what really goes into an athlete’s body before and after those important training sessions.

According to Seebohar, a typical pre-training meal is about two to three hours before the workout or event and contains a mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to maintain steady blood sugar levels. For example:

  • Granola with yogurt and fruit
  • Oatmeal with fruit, nuts and a scoop of almond butter
  • Toast and eggs
  • Smoothies and purees are ideal, especially closer to an event, as they are digested more quickly than solid food

Hydration – It’s Not Just About the Water

While carbs are necessary fuel for energy and protein is paramount for muscle growth and repair, the role of hydration  is something that can’t be underestimated. In fact, when some professional athletes are in training camp, they have to submit a daily urine sample to monitor their hydration status.

Loss of electrolytes in sweat can lead to cramping during events. Dehydration can also impede recovery and make athletes feel more sluggish and sore after training or competition. Sodium is the major electrolyte lost in sweat. Others include potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Electrolytes are charged particles that bind to water in our cells, which helps our bodies retain water. They also help move water into the blood and cells through osmosis. While we usually hate the thought of retaining water, it’s important to do so after intense exercise to help with rehydration. If athletes only replace the water they’ve lost, but not the sodium, the water will simply pass through their body without being absorbed. Athletes can add electrolyte packets to their water bottles, but generally you can replace the sodium you lose in your workouts simply through the meal you eat following exercise. Products like Clif Hydration Electrolyte mix can also be helpful, especially in the crazy hot and humid weather we’ve experienced this summer.


Refueling, ideally within a 30-minute window post exercise, is incredibly important for athletes, especially when they have back-to-back events. Carbohydrates are needed to replenish glycogen stores and protein is necessary to help repair the small muscle tears that happen during exercise. Antioxidant-rich foods are helpful to combat the oxidative stress that occurs from intense activity.

While you don’t need to pay as much attention to each pre-workout snack as U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, it’s smart to think about your fuel and hydration to maximize your performance during workouts. And it’s not as complicated as you might think. As Seebohar says, “Many recreational athletes think that Olympians follow different nutritional plans. At the end of the day, they are usually just better at planning, preparing and implementing their food plan to align [with their training schedule].” After all, even mere humans like us like to go a little bit faster and feel just a smidge stronger, too.


When Food Replaces Feelings

Let’s face it: For most of us, food is much more than merely fuel for our bodies. From grandma’s apple pie to mac and cheese we enjoyed as a child to chocolate  mousse shared with a significant other, food can evoke memories and emotions, particularly feelings of comfort or love.

But there’s a big difference between nurturing yourself from time to time with comfort food and using food to insulate you from your feelings and emotions, which can undermine attempts to shed pounds and maintain a healthy body. When eating becomes a method of self-medicating – or numbing yourself to feelings – emotional eating  crosses over into the realm of concern. Emotional eating is reaching for food to quell feelings, rather than hunger. Over the years, I’ve learned that understanding and addressing the emotional aspects of over eating and weight management are just as important as nutrition and exercise.

While the eating plan I share with my clients is simple, following it can be a challenge if you’ve fallen out of touch with your body’s hunger cues and developed bad habits or an unhealthy routine. Emotional eating doesn’t help either.

Stress, anxiety , loneliness  and fatigue are common triggers for emotional eaters, particularly women. If one of your happiest moments growing up with your six siblings was sitting at the kitchen table eating mom’s spaghetti with tomato sauce, you may crave pasta when you’re feeling lonely or blue.

But differentiating physical hunger and emotional hunger can be difficult, especially if you’ve spent your life stuffing your emotions by reaching for food. So here are some key differences to keep in mind that will help in recognizing emotional eating:

  • Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger typically comes on gradually, and you may have physical signs like your stomach growling.
  • Emotional hunger craves specific – and in most cases, unhealthful – foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything will do, including healthful foods.
  • Emotional hunger results in mindless eating. Did you just down a pint of ice cream before bed without realizing or enjoying it? Polished off a sleeve of cookies in front of the television after work? Inhaled a drive-thru burger while crawling home in rush-hour traffic? These are most likely examples of emotional eating.
  • Emotional hunger is never satiated. You want more and more until you’re stuffed – or find yourself in a “carb coma,” slumping after eating too much.
  • Emotional hunger has repercussions. These include guilt, shame and regret, to name a few. Physical hunger never leaves you feeling badly about yourself.

While most of us at one time or another during our lives have eaten food for reasons other than being hungry, some grapple with emotional eating much more than others. If you feel that you might be an emotional eater, you’re not alone. Experts say as much as 75 percent of overeating may be in response to emotions, rather than to satiate physical hunger.

Many people, particularly those who’ve struggled on and off with dieting most of their lives, have disconnected from their bodies, learning to ignore signs of hunger and the cues that signal fullness. Without mindfullness  – awareness of what you’re feeling both physically and emotionally – emotional eating can become a knee-jerk reaction to the onset of uncomfortable feelings.

Get In Touch With Your Feelings

The first step in establishing a healthy relationship with food is to reconnect with your body and emotions. Understand, though, that it takes at least a month to create a new habit. And if emotional eating has been a longstanding habit, you won’t be able to change it overnight. Be kind and patient with yourself.

Start to notice how you feel when you reach for food. Are you using food to cope, going to the fridge when you’re angry or upset? Acknowledge your feelings and take a detour. Ask yourself: What’s going on? What is this emotion I’m feeling? Then find a different way of dealing with it.

One thing you can do if you are feeling bad – but can’t identify the exact emotion – is to merely be aware of the fact that you’re feeling bad. Say aloud, “I’m feeling really bad right now,” and try to quantify how bad you’re feeling on a scale of 1 to 10.

Also, determine your “feeling bad” thresholds. For example, if your “bad” rates a 5 or higher, you may need to call a friend. A lower level may warrant you working it out on your own by going for a walk walk  or meditating . Do something that will make you feel better, not worse.

Affirm Your Values

Researchers believe that reflecting on values can serve as a buffer to the stress and uncertainty that lead to emotional eating and help in maintaining self-control in difficult situations. One study found that when women who were unhappy with their weight completed a one-time, 15-minute writing exercise about an important personal issue, they went on to lose 3-plus pounds, on average, over approximately three months. By comparison, those who wrote about an unimportant topic gained an average of 3 pounds.

So pull out your food journal , set the timer and write freely about what’s important to you. Write as though no one else will read it. Come clean about what’s bugging you. Your words may surprise but enlighten you.

Follow these steps to take note of what you’re feeling and deal with emotional eating:

1. If you have the urge to eat, pay attention to your feelings.
2. Before you reach for food ask yourself: Have I missed a meal? Have I eaten my snack? Am I really hungry?
3. If you have eaten on schedule, and you determine this urge could be emotional eating, acknowledge that you may have gotten into a habit of trying to fix your troubles with food. Don’t panic. You’re not alone.
4. Try, for just 10 minutes, to deal with your urge with something other than food. Consider these alternatives instead:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Pray or meditate.
  • Call a friend.
  • Measure your hunger cues
  • Write in your journal.
  • Do something to feel good about yourself. For example, take a bath, do your nails or make that household repair you’ve been putting off. Shoot some hoops or get a haircut.

Our emotional states can change minute by minute or hour to hour. If you still have a craving or urge after 10 or 15 minutes, go through the process again. Many times the urge or craving will pass. If you are still really hungry, eat something healthful that you will feel good – not guilty – about.

You can be diligent with your food intake and journaling , and perform like an athlete , at the gym. But if you do not acknowledge, assess and deal with any underlying emotional issues that contribute to overeating, any weight you lose will come back. I guarantee it.


ReadMORE…. Health.USnews

75 Percent of Americans Say They Eat Healthy — Despite Evidence To The Contrary

We’re living at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, many Americans overeat refined grains and sugar.This may help explain why the obesity rate seems stuck. The most recent estimate is that 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese.But, as a nation, we seem to have our blinders on. Despite much evidence to the contrary, most Americans say they have a healthy diet.This comes from a poll NPR conducted with Truven Health Analytics, which surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,000 U.S. adults in May.One question they asked: How healthy would you consider your eating habits to be? About 75 percent of respondents ranked their diets as good, very good or excellent.Hmm. Are Americans confused about what constitutes a healthy diet? Do they say one thing, but do another? Or perhaps it’s a matter of portion size: We may be choosing foods that are healthy in moderation, but are eating too much of them.

We asked a range of experts who study eating habits.Nutrition scholar Marion Nestle at New York University says portion size — just eating too much — is an issue. “I’d vote for that as a major cause of obesity,” Nestle told us by email.”Some of the problem is that individuals pay more attention to getting good things in their diet than they do to limiting overall intake,” adds David Just, a behavioral economist who studies food psychology at Cornell University. “It is hard to monitor overall consumption. It is easy to remember to add a fruit or vegetable to the plate.”

As a culture, we seem to have food on the brain more. “We eat two more large snacks a day [compared to] 25 years ago,” says Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina. His research points to the trend of kids eating every few hours throughout the day.”Most people try to do the best they can, given their circumstances,” Nestle adds, but there are lots of factors that shape our eating habits: “Education is an issue, but so is relentless food marketing.”

As we’ve reported, the industry spends billions of dollars marketing junk food and sugary drinks. And celebrity endorsements have also been shown to play a role in influencing our habits.”The industry has people thinking that many of their items are healthy,” Popkin says, pointing to sugar-filled granola bars as an example.And that marketing has proved quite effective, creating a disconnect between what nutrition experts and the public perceive to be healthful foods.As a recent poll by The New York Times found, 71 percent of the public thinks granola bars are healthy, while only 28 percent of the hundreds of nutritionists surveyed agreed with that assessment.



10 Healthy Food Gadgets That Nutrition Pros Use

If you  love  kitchen tools  that help  slice, dice and prepare healthy foods  in a flash. A popular  food gadget is a milk frother, which is a tiny, battery-operated whisker that enables users  me to froth up  milk. While a cup of java is brewing, pour about 1/4 cup of low-fat milk into another mug, insert the frother and in seconds,  have luscious, frothy milk, which you can  then ladle on the top of your  mug of coffee. The milk floats on top of the java like a soft, fluffy cloud, and with one sip, it adds much-needed calcium and vitamin D to your diet.  In this article   writer  Joan Salge Blake gives  us a bundle of new ideas that  we can use while seeking to maintain a healthy diet… READMORE

The Truth Behind Eating Before Your Workout


You’ll hear it from gym bros, from the internet, even from some personal trainers: “if you don’t eat before working out, your body will start breaking down your muscles to fuel you through the session” . It’s enough to make any gym bunny smash food before getting to the weight room, to avoid burning away muscle instead of fat. But sports dietitian Katherine Shone says something a little different, according to Coach.nine .com Writer  Kimberly Gillan…  READMORE