Plant foods alter gene expression to curb inflammation

Inappropriately high levels of inflammation contribute to many of the chronic diseases of the modern world. Inflammation plays an important role in the development of atherosclerotic plaque, and inflammatory mediators have been shown to fuel tumor growth. [1] Certain characteristics of the Western diet are known to have pro-inflammatory effects – the high content of omega-6 fatty acids, for example, due to excessive oil and animal products, leads to overproduction of inflammatory molecules. Also, obesity is associated with chronic inflammation. Fat tissue produces a great number of both hormones and inflammatory molecules, and obesity-associated inflammation is said to be the link between excess body fat and chronic disease. [2]

 fruits and vegetables; Flickr: karimian

Eating more plant foods and fewer animal products and oils is advisable to avoid these pro-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids, in contrast to omega-6 fatty acids, are known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Fruits and vegetables are known to be protective against chronic disease due to their low calorie density and high quantity of micronutrients and antioxidants, and have been associated with reduced circulating inflammatory molecules. A recent study showed that fruit and vegetable consumption alters circulating levels of inflammatory molecules by affecting gene expression in circulating white blood cells, limiting the production of inflammatory molecules by these cells.

Young adults reported their usual food intake, and the researchers correlated this to a number of inflammatory markers in blood, as well as expression of a number of pro-inflammatory genes in white blood cells. The subjects were divided into groups based on their quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption, and inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and TNFα) were 40% lower in the group with the highest (vs. lowest) fruit and vegetable consumption. Moreover, expression of four pro-inflammatory genes (ICAM1, ILR1, TNFα, and NF-κB1) were significantly lower in the circulating white blood cells of the high fruit and vegetable consumers. [3] C-reactive protein and plasma homocysteine are known risk factors for heart disease, and NF-κB is a key promoter of atherosclerosis development.[4]

This data suggests that plant foods have anti-inflammatory effects that have not yet been discovered.

We cannot underestimate the importance of high-nutrient foods. Our genes are inherited, but the expression of those genes is modified by our environment. Food components interact with our genes to affect the state of our health, and this study suggests that high-nutrient foods drive gene expression patterns that reduce inflammation and therefore risk of chronic disease.

 

References:

1. Sgambato, A. and A. Cittadini, Inflammation and cancer: a multifaceted link. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci, 2010. 14(4): p. 263-8.
2. Hajer, G.R., T.W. van Haeften, and F.L. Visseren, Adipose tissue dysfunction in obesity, diabetes, and vascular diseases. Eur Heart J, 2008. 29(24): p. 2959-71.
3. Hermsdorff, H.H., et al., Fruit and vegetable consumption and proinflammatory gene expression from peripheral blood mononuclear cells in young adults: a translational study. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2010. 7: p. 42.
4. Kutuk, O. and H. Basaga, Inflammation meets oxidation: NF-kappaB as a mediator of initial lesion development in atherosclerosis. Trends Mol Med, 2003. 9(12): p. 549-57.

 

Radical changes produce radical results

For years I suffered from binge eating [aka Binge Eating Disorder]; usually after episodes of restrictive, deprivation dieting. I read plenty of self-help books and occasionally went to therapy for it. The standard advice given was not to have a radical, “all-or-nothing” mindset concerning food choices. The reason being perfectionism can lead to binge eating as a coping mechanism for dieting failure and resulting false guilt. I totally agree that perfectionism can produce a false guilt that can lead to eating everything in sight; however, radical changes are absolutely necessary for the food addict to get free!  

cooked vegetablesAnyone prone to binge eating can overcome it by focusing on eating high nutrient foods for optimal health. There’s no false guilt when one is actively nurturing and giving his/her body the best care possible. When ETL is viewed as a restrictive dieting plan, binge eating most definitely will result for those who have been previously entangled in deprivation/bingeing/guilt cycles.

Dr. Fuhrman strongly urges that moderate changes produce little to no results, but radical changes produce radical results. When one experiences radical improvements of health in a relatively short amount of time, it produces momentum; both psychological and physiological.

The standard American diet is radical and dangerous, and its popularity does not make it less destructive; it is slow suicide. Dr. Fuhrman likens making gradual changes with food to making gradual changes with cocaine. For both the food addict and the cocaine addict, merely cutting down just fuels an overwhelming desire to use more. 

berriesA nutritarian diet is sensible, scientific, logical, and produces great results. I encourage anyone struggling with bingeing to view eating a high nutrient diet as a boundary fence of safety and freedom to enjoy optimal health. The eating plan will enable anyone to successfully get through toxic food cravings and see and feel radical results relatively quickly. If one fills up on nutrients, the cravings for junk will eventually disappear. Guaranteed. 

Abstinence, not perfectionism, is the key. Radical changes produce radical results, and radical results will produce motivation for life!

 

 

Previous posts related to this topic:  Junk food – as addictive as smoking? / Your hunger can keep you healthy / Breaking up is hard to do / Abstinence is key / The powerful snare of compromise  / What kind of glasses do you wear?

 

image credits: flickr - vegetables by ssimm1rg; berries by Lilia’s photos

Football players face damage to the cardiovascular system and brain

Body size is known to be inversely related to longevity – both tall stature and large weight have been linked to increased early-life mortality in epidemiological studies. [1, 2]

So it makes sense that football linemen maintaining a high body mass for competitive reasons would likely be sacrificing years of life for their large size. Indeed, retired NFL linemen are said to have an increased rate of premature death, specifically cardiovascular death. [3, 4] A contrasting hypothesis states that football linemen’s high level of exercise would protect them from the cardiovascular risks associated with their large size. However, recent research has found that they are not protected.

Cardiovascular and metabolic parameters were compared in current professional football players and baseball players. The baseball players did show an increased prevalence of hypertension compared to the general U.S. population, but otherwise had favorable levels of cardiovascular risk factors. However, the football players, linemen in particular, had higher rates of obesity, hyperglycemia, and cardiometabolic syndrome (defined as 3 or more risk factors) compared to baseball players. Linemen also had increased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, glucose intolerance , and obesity compared to the general U.S. population. [5, 6] The researchers concluded that these large athletes are not in peak physical condition – their time spent exercising heavily does not outweigh the negative health effects of their large size.

"For the population in general, the concept that you can be both fat and fit may simply not be true." According to Dr. John Helzberg of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, one of the researchers.

The researchers also expressed concern that the next generation of players, now high school and college athletes, will be encouraged to grow larger to be more competitive, to the detriment of their future health. [7]. We also know that the high animal protein intake utilized to get that large dramatically increases IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) and the link between increased IGF-1 and cancer. [8, 9]

In addition, high school football players may already be compromising their brain health because of the repeated head trauma inherent in their chosen sport. Motion of the brain within the skull can damage nerve cells and synapses, and a research group at Purdue University hypothesized that there may be additive effects of repeated head trauma even if individual impacts do not produce any symptoms. They conducted a complex study using helmet-based sensors, video, cognitive tests, and functional MRI (fMRI) to determine neurological changes in high school football players due to head trauma.

Data from the helmet sensors reported forces of up to 100 G sustained upon impact – for reference, most rollercoasters expose riders to forces of only 5 G. Players that showed symptoms (concussion) were expected to have neurological changes, and indeed did. Notably though, of the players who received a high number of or unusually hard impacts, half of those that showed no symptoms still suffered cognitive impairments, based on cognitive tests and fMRI performed before, during, and after the season. They showed deficits in visual working memory and also altered activation in a part of the brain in close proximity to the most frequent area of impact. This is a significant finding - players that didn’t have any symptoms likely went on playing after hard impacts, not realizing they risk further head trauma and further and more serious neurologic injury and intellectual deterioration. [10, 11]

The human body must be properly cared for in order to remain healthy. Similar to consistently eating a low-nutrient diet, growing the body unnaturally large and subjecting the head to repeated hard impacts may not produce immediate symptoms, but set the stage for future disease.

 

 

References:

1. Samaras, T.T. and H. Elrick, Height, body size, and longevity: is smaller better for the human body? West J Med, 2002. 176(3): p. 206-8.
2. Samaras, T.T., L.H. Storms, and H. Elrick, Longevity, mortality and body weight. Ageing Res Rev, 2002. 1(4): p. 673-91.
3. Croft, L.B., et al., Comparison of National Football League linemen versus nonlinemen of left ventricular mass and left atrial size. Am J Cardiol, 2008. 102(3): p. 343-7.
4. Selden, M.A., J.H. Helzberg, and J.F. Waeckerle, Early cardiovascular mortality in professional football players: fact or fiction? Am J Med, 2009. 122(9): p. 811-4.
5. Helzberg, J.H., et al., Comparison of cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors in professional baseball players versus professional football players. Am J Cardiol, 2010. 106(5): p. 664-7.
6. Selden, M.A., et al., Cardiometabolic abnormalities in current National Football League players. Am J Cardiol, 2009. 103(7): p. 969-71.
7. American College of Gastroenterology (2009, October 30). For Big Athletes, Possible Future Risk: Heightened Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Among Professional Football Linemen. ScienceDaily. . 2009.
8. Allen, N.E., et al., Hormones and diet: low insulin-like growth factor-I but normal bioavailable androgens in vegan men. Br J Cancer, 2000. 83(1): p. 95-7.
9. Kaaks, R., Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp, 2004. 262: p. 247-60; discussion 260-68.
10. Purdue University (2010, October 8). Brain changes found in high school football players thought to be concussion-free. ScienceDaily. . 2010.
11. Talavage, T.M., et al., Functionally-Detected Cognitive Impairment in High School Football Players Without Clinically-Diagnosed Concussion. J Neurotrauma, 2010.

 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Ruthlette

Ruth always took good care of her body, but right along with middle-age birthdays came increasing weight gain. She was feeling the heaviness and burden of the scales climbing higher each year .  Thankfully, at age 44 she discovered a new book that changed her life in the aisle of a Whole Foods Market. Welcome to Disease Proof, Ruth.     

 

fit nutritarianWhat was your life like before discovering Eat to Live?

I’ve always been into health and exercise, but when I turned 40 it became harder to keep weight off and look toned; even with the daily cardio exercise and weight training.  Although I was still able to fit into most of my clothing, some were snug and I would no longer wear them. The numbers on the scale were creeping up and I felt heavy and sluggish.  

I had been mainly a vegetarian. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables, but I did eat cheese, yogurt and salmon.  I tried The Zone Diet but gained 10 lbs. after a year of sticking with Dr. Sears' terribly unappetizing recipes.  At 5’7” I topped the scales at 140 lbs. I was open to becoming vegan, but afraid to take the plunge, because I wasn’t convinced that it was healthy. 

  

How did you find out Dr. Fuhrman high nutrient eating style?

 I went to Whole Foods and saw a display of health books.  One was Eat to Live, and I noted that the book quoted from The China Study, which I had read and greatly respected. I decided to commit to nutritarian eating.

 

 What happened and how do you feel now?

Within three months I lost 15 pounds, dropped two to three dress sizes, and reduced my body fat from 33% to 24%. I feel younger and sexy, and I now have more energy and feel rested each morning.  My workouts are stronger and I’m finally toned again ~ my husband says that my body looks like a teenager’s! (By the way, my husband also lost 15 lbs!) 

 

portrait of RuthDo you have any success tip(s) to share with others?

  •  It’s important to understand that you can’t eat all-you-want of “healthy” foods like nuts, seeds and whole grains.   When I first started Eat to Live, I wrote to Dr. Fuhrman on Ask the Doctor and told him that I couldn’t believe how much food I could eat and still drop 4 lbs. in the first couple of weeks.  He warned me not to "pig out" and to only eat until I was full.  I was initially put off, but eventually learned that he was right.  I learned to listen to my body and stop eating when I was full.  After that, I dropped even more weight rapidly. 
     
  • I eat greens with every meal: spinach in my morning smoothie, a large salad with soup for lunch, and a large salad with dinner.  By loading up on salads first, my “hunger” is largely quenched.  I’m amazed at how much more energy I have by eating less!
     
     

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

It has made me able to be more in tune with my body.  Fueling my body with nutrient rich foods helps me have more energy and look and feel great!

 

Congratulations Ruth for taking the plunge into nutritarian eating! 

Tomatoes protect skin against sun damage

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., affecting one out of every five Americans, and its incidence is rising. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is responsible for the development of most skin cancers and also skin aging. [1]

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun exerts these aging and carcinogenic effects on the skin via oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage to DNA. As such, there has been much interest in the scientific community in using antioxidants from plant foods to protect against this damage. Photoprotection has been previously demonstrated in animal studies by multiple antioxidant supplements, including green tea catechins, proanthocyanadins, resveratrol, and silymarin. In addition to their antioxidant effects, these substances can also absorb UV radiation (when applied topically), enable DNA damage repair, and reduce inflammation. [2]

Tomato. Photo credit: Mr. T in DC (Flickr)

Lycopene, well-known for its prostate cancer-protective effects, is a carotenoid antioxidant present in red and pink fruits such as tomato, grapefruit, and papaya. It is especially concentrated in cooked tomato products like tomato paste. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that in vitro has been shown to prevent or repair damage to DNA that potentially leads to cancer development. Lycopene also stimulates production of antioxidant enzymes, inhibits signals that promote tumor progression, and promotes programmed death of cancerous cells. [3]

Researchers recently tested whether the antioxidant actions of lycopene in tomato paste could lessen the skin-damaging effects of UV radiation in human subjects. A group of healthy women consumed tomato paste daily for twelve weeks, and their skin’s reddening response to UV light was measured at the beginning and end of the study. After twelve weeks of tomato supplementation, the skin’s resistance to UV-induced reddening was enhanced. The tomato paste supplementation also resulted in reduced mitochondrial DNA damage and reduced activity of an enzyme that degrades the skin’s extracellular proteins, a process that contributes to skin aging. These results suggest that regular tomato consumption can help to reduce the skin-damaging effects of the sun. [4]

Tomatoes are rich not only in lycopene but in thousands of other protective compounds, both discovered and undiscovered, that likely have powerful heart disease- and cancer-preventive effects. Be sure to eat both fresh, raw tomatoes and cooked tomatoes to get the full spectrum of tomatoes’ phytochemicals.

 

References:

1. Skin Cancer Foundation: Skin Cancer Facts. October 14, 2010]; Available from: http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/.
2. Nichols, J.A. and S.K. Katiyar, Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Arch Dermatol Res, 2010. 302(2): p. 71-83.
3. van Breemen, R.B. and N. Pajkovic, Multitargeted therapy of cancer by lycopene. Cancer Lett, 2008. 269(2): p. 339-51.
4. Rizwan, M., et al., Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo. Br J Dermatol, 2010.

 

Prediction: Breast cancer rates will skyrocket in the next 20 years

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I want to raise awareness that childhood diets are the major cause of adult cancers, including breast cancer. [1] I also want to raise awareness that women are not powerless against breast cancer – mammograms for ‘early detection’ are not the only defense and do not even offer significant benefits. The most important thing to be aware of is that women can achieve meaningful risk reduction with powerful preventive lifestyle measures.

The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that 40% of breast cancers are preventable through diet and lifestyle measures. I propose that we could prevent much more than 40% of breast cancers in the future, if we can ingrain healthy habits in our children at a young age.

Early studies found wide international variations in breast cancer rates, originally generating the hypothesis that nutrition is a major determinant of breast cancer risk. Obesity is a significant risk factor for breast cancer:

  • Gaining one pound per year during adulthood can double breast cancer risk after menopause.
  • Obesity alone is thought to be responsible for 17% of breast cancers.
  • Obesity is associated with greater tumor burden and poorer prognosis in breast cancer patients. [2, 3]
  • Production of inflammatory molecules and estrogen by body fat, as well as elevated insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels are thought to contribute to obesity-related breast cancer risk. [2]

Plenty of experts have predicted that the explosion of childhood obesity we have seen in recent years will result in crisis proportions of heart disease and diabetes in the future, but cancer seems to be ignored. Today, over 30% of children are overweight or obese. [4] Clearly, with all the research demonstrating that obesity is a major risk factor for breast cancer, our young girls are in danger.

The prevalence of early puberty, another established risk factor for breast cancer, has been consistently increasing over the past 100 years. Today, by the age of 8, 18.3% of Caucasian girls, 42.9% of African-American girls, and 30.9% of Hispanic girls have already entered puberty. Obesity, soft drinks, and excessive animal protein are the likely culprits (Read more).

This is a grim indication of things to come – when these girls reach adulthood, tragically we will see an upsurge in breast cancer cases. With the increases in fast food and processed food consumption in America in the last 20 years, I predict a tragic explosion in pre-menopausal breast cancers in our country in the next 20 years.

Breast tissue is most vulnerable to carcinogenic influences when it is growing and developing – during childhood and adolescence. Children are also especially susceptible to weight gain during adolescence. [5] Thus, this window of time is when a healthy diet is absolutely crucial. Animal studies have demonstrated that a high-fat diet or a body fat promoting diet during puberty promotes abnormal development of breast tissue and production of inflammatory molecules, which in turn may promote tumor growth.[6, 7] Adolescent diet was examined in the Nurses’ Health Study – greater consumption of vegetables during high school was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer, and high glycemic index foods were associated with an increased risk. [8]

The typical American childhood diet of chicken fingers, French fries, and mac and cheese is not harmless – it is creating a cancer-friendly environment in children’s bodies.

As parents, we must feed our children healthful foods from an early age. This is the most effective protection from future chronic disease that we can provide for them. Healthy eating is a lifetime commitment, and we can give our children a head start. Our goal should be to instill healthy habits in our children so that they grow up at a healthy weight, appreciating healthy food and exercise, and hold on to those habits as adults. In order to do this, we must set a positive example, focusing on nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods.

New research is revealing the protective effects of natural foods against breast cancer. For example, mushrooms have anti-estrogenic activity, and regular mushroom consumption is associated with a 60% decrease in cancer risk. [9] Cruciferous vegetables such as watercress, other leafy greens, and broccoli contain compounds known to inhibit cancer cell growth. [10, 11]

Instead of wearing a pink ribbon, eat vegetables, onions and mushrooms – and make sure to feed some to your kids.

 

References:


1. Maynard, M., et al., Fruit, vegetables, and antioxidants in childhood and risk of adult cancer: the Boyd Orr cohort. J Epidemiol Community Health, 2003. 57(3): p. 218-25.
2. Cleary, M.P. and M.E. Grossmann, Minireview: Obesity and breast cancer: the estrogen connection. Endocrinology, 2009. 150(6): p. 2537-42.
3. Abrahamson, P.E., et al., General and abdominal obesity and survival among young women with breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2006. 15(10): p. 1871-7.
4. Ogden, C.L., et al., Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA, 2010. 303(3): p. 242-9.
5. Jasik, C.B. and R.H. Lustig, Adolescent obesity and puberty: the "perfect storm". Ann N Y Acad Sci, 2008. 1135: p. 265-79.
6. Olson, L.K., et al., Pubertal exposure to high fat diet causes mouse strain-dependent alterations in mammary gland development and estrogen responsiveness. Int J Obes (Lond), 2010. 34(9): p. 1415-26.
7. Michigan State University: High-fat diet during puberty linked to breast cancer risk later in life. 2010; Available from: http://news.msu.edu/story/8233/.
8. Frazier, A.L., et al., Adolescent diet and risk of breast cancer. Cancer Causes Control, 2004. 15(1): p. 73-82.
9. Zhang, M., et al., Dietary intakes of mushrooms and green tea combine to reduce the risk of breast cancer in Chinese women. Int J Cancer, 2009. 124(6): p. 1404-8.
10. Clarke, J., R. Dashwood, and E. Ho, Multi-targeted prevention of cancer by sulforaphane. Cancer Letters, 2008. 269(2): p. 291-304.
11. Higdon, J., et al., Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacological Research, 2007. 55(3): p. 224-236.

 

Optimal health is for life

In less than a minute, while waiting at many checkout lanes in America, one can be inundated with the latest women’s magazine articles about revving up metabolisms. Anything from stimulant pills, special foods and exercises, and even continual eating have been touted by the so-called dieting experts. One can also watch most any episode of a popular TV show and see fitness trainers screaming metabolism lectures in the faces of crying, obese contestants.

In a recent post titled, “Metabolic rate: the slower, the better” Dr. Fuhrman busted the metabolic myth. He stated that eating high nutrient, low calorie foods helps achieve a slower metabolism that has many health promoting and anti-aging benefits. Basically, a slower metabolism is highly favorable for optimal health and longevity.

For me personally, I can eat the exact same thing as I did the year that I lost 100 lbs and gain weight now. When I was obese, I could consume a whopping 3700 calories per day just to maintain that size. Now, because my body is well-nourished, closer to an ideal weight, and functioning at a slower metabolism, I require much less food. If I’m careless and eat when I’m not truly hungry, the weight can easily creep back on.   

For example, this past winter, due to my slower metabolic rate and living in northern Indiana, I was constantly cold. I tried layering extra clothing and drinking hot herbal teas, but the only thing that genuinely comforted me was a bowl of warm oatmeal. I would eat it mid-afternoon when I was the coldest; not because I was hungry, but because I was cold. I would literally “hug” the hot bowl and let the steam warm my face! Ahhhh . . . . 

However, the scales told me that that was stupid. Thankfully, when I listened to my body’s signals for true hunger and made wise choices again, the weight dropped off. 

Again, this past summer, with longer days, the kitchen became “alive” about 9:30 pm when my husband and children gathered after evening activities. Again, I wasn’t hungry, but in the midst of my family’s “social hour,” I nibbled. Well, once again, the scales revealed my stupidity. 

A well-nourished, healthy body really does require much less food than expected. There’s a learning curve to maintaining great health, but if one uses common sense in implementing:

  1. eating healthfully

  2. eating only when hungry

  3. and stopping when satisfied

Optimal health is for life.    

 

 

image credit -  flickr: rockymountainhigh

Interview with a Nutritarian: Laura

yoga portraitI became acquainted with Laura through the member center of DrFuhrman.com. I’m always impressed when young adults take control of their health destinies at a relatively young age, and Laura is one of them. It’s exciting to know that she will save herself a lifetime of unnecessary suffering and costly medical expenses in the days, months and years ahead! Welcome to Disease Proof, Laura.

 

What was your life like before discovering nutritarian eating?

Even though I wasn’t that overweight, I used to be obsessed with food. I felt guilty whenever I ate anything fattening, and most of the time I had stomach aches after eating the standard American diet. I didn’t think there was anything abnormal about it so I didn't try to find a solution. However, fast food always made me sick so I stopped eating it altogether. This helped, but I still didn't feel well most of the time.  

I also had terrible allergic reactions to grass, ragweed, pollen, cats, trees, etc.  If I was invited to a home where there were cats, I'd either decline the invitation or take Benadryl; which always made me groggy, and I still sneezed and sniffed.

 

How did you find out about Dr. Fuhrman?

About four years ago I was unemployed and spent much of the day online reading about nutrition. Eventually I saw a presentation that Dr. Fuhrman gave on a raw food website and I liked his discoveries that were based on scientific research.

 

How do you feel now?

I lost close to fifteen pounds and feel lighter; both mentally and physically. I feel more alive and have a bounce in my step. I used to think that it was normal to feel stuffed and not want to move after eating. Now I like to take my dog for a walk after I eat; plus, I have enough energy to workout, whereas before, I couldn’t make myself exercise.

My former obsession with food is gone and I don’t feel guilty about eating now. I know that certain foods make me feel good and other foods make me feel lethargic, stuffed, and overweight.  I’ve now trained myself to think before eating, “Is this food going to keep me feeling light, able to exercise and move around, or is this food going to drag me down?” Meals have never been more enjoyable.  

I haven't taken Benadryl for a couple of years, and I even live with a cat now! This has been the most remarkable change since I never expected to get rid of allergies.  I still have symptoms if I pet cats and scratch my eyes, but for the most part, I’ve forgotten what is was like to have allergies.  

Plus, I used to have urinary tract infections and now I don’t, and I used to have continual sinus drainage down the back of my throat and now it’s completely gone!

 

Do you have any success tip(s) to share with others?

  • It's been extremely helpful to have a friend who is supportive. I recommend attending a lecture that Dr. Fuhrman gives in-person, and take a friend or relative along. [Dr Fuhrman was speaking in New Jersey and I begged my friend to go with me; I’m so glad she did!]
  • There are lots of healthy recipes that you will like.  You don't have to eat foods that you dislike.  
     

In a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

 

It has totally changed my life! I’m so thankful to be able to really enjoy eating with no guilt while also giving my body the nutrients it needs to fight off viruses, cancer cells, bacteria, etc. It has also caused me stop obsessing about food and finding the right diet.  There's no longer the temptation to find the latest way to lose weight or feel better.  I’ve discovered what really works to live in great health and that settles it for me.  Nutritarian eating does takes some effort, but it doesn’t take long to see and enjoy the rewards!  

 

Congratulations Laura ~ we are so proud of you for choosing optimal health so early in life!

 

image credit: Reggie Meneses

Erroneous information on hemorrhagic stroke from The New York Times

The New York Times is a well-respected publication, and its readers expect accurate information from both the publication and its associated web content. So I was stunned to read not only incorrect but potentially dangerous information in the New York Times Hemorrhagic Stroke In-depth Prevention Report, part of the Times Health Guide. A large section of the report was devoted to anti-platelet and anti-coagulant medications, when these drugs do not prevent hemorrhagic strokes – in fact, they have the opposite effect; they increase the risk of death from hemorrhagic stroke.  The information on anti-coagulants in the NYT report refer only to ischemic stroke, not hemorrhagic stroke.   Anticoagulants should not have been mentioned here, unless as something to avoid.  In fact, prior aspirin use has furthermore been cited as a predictor of death from hemorrhagic stroke.[1] Also, any anti-platelet or anti-coagulant medication (not only aspirin) will carry a risk of bleeding, and therefore is not an appropriate preventive measure for hemorrhagic stroke.   

The report also fails to communicate the fact that ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke do not share the same risk factors. Although high blood pressure is the foremost risk factor for both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, other common risk factors for ischemic stroke are not risk factors for hemorrhagic stroke – especially high LDL cholesterol. In fact, studies have found that low saturated fat and animal protein intake and low serum cholesterol, which would reduce risk of heart attacks and ischemic stroke, are associated with increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke.[2]  Although the report mentioned that statin use may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, it failed to explain that low cholesterol does not protect against hemorrhagic stroke, and may increase one’s risk of hemmorhagic stroke, especially in the presence of high blood pressure.  

Blood pressure cuff

For prevention of hemorrhagic stroke, keeping blood pressure in a safe range is of paramount importance. This is especially important for those who already are eating athero-protective diets, rich in whole plant foods and minimizing animal products and processed foods to reduce risk of heart disease, ischemic stroke and cancer. A health-promoting diet, salt restriction, and exercise – not anti-coagulant medications – should be emphasized, as lifestyle strategies to maintain favorable blood pressure reduce the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

I hope that my comments will prompt The New York Times to revise and correct its report on hemorrhagic stroke prevention.

More information on hemorrhagic stroke.

 

References:

1. Saloheimo P, Ahonen M, Juvela S, et al. Regular aspirin-use preceding the onset of primary intracerebral hemorrhage is an independent predictor for death. Stroke. 2006 Jan;37(1):129-33.

2. Iso H, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Prospective study of fat and protein intake and risk of intraparenchymal hemorrhage in women. Circulation. 2001 Feb 13;103(6):856-63.

Iso H, Sato S, Kitamura A, et al. Fat and protein intakes and risk of intraparenchymal hemorrhage among middle-aged Japanese. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Jan 1;157(1):32-9.

Yano K, Reed DM, MacLean CJ. Serum cholesterol and hemorrhagic stroke in the Honolulu Heart Program. Stroke. 1989 Nov;20(11):1460-5.

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Anti-cancer properties of watercress

Watercress is a super-duper food. Along with kale, collards, mustard greens, and turnip greens, watercress is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. Most importantly, watercress is a specialist at preventing cancer.

Photo credit: jules:stonesoup @Flickr

Watercress belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables, uniquely high in glucosinolates, which are precursors to cancer-fighting molecules called isothiocyanates (ITCs). Watercress is rich in a specific glucosinolate called gluconasturtiin, which is a precursor to the ITC phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC).[1] Epidemiologic associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and reduced cancer risk have sparked a surge in studies on the anti-cancer effects of specific cruciferous vegetables and their constituent isothiocyanates.

Anti-cancer properties of watercress had previously been established in cell culture experiments: In human breast cancer cells, watercress extract blocked the degradation of structural proteins, an early step in preparation for migration and subsequent invasion, which eventually leads to metastasis. [2] PEITC in watercress was also found to reduce tumor cell survival and decrease the action of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which is a molecule that stimulates angiogenesis (blood vessel development), allowing a tumor to obtain a blood supply. [3]


A new study has investigated the effects of watercress on HIF activity in human subjects. Hypoxia (low oxygen levels) is a key stimulus for tumor growth – as a tumor grows, its oxygen and nutrient needs exceed those that it can receive by diffusion from adjacent healthy tissue. When tumor cells sense hypoxia, they send angiogenic signals to surrounding normal tissue in order to obtain a direct blood supply. HIF is an essential part of this process, activating the production of angiogenic proteins, consequently promoting tumor growth. [4]


Since the current study tested the effects of ingesting watercress on HIF activity in cells of human subjects, the data provided is more physiologically relevant, and strengthens the earlier cell culture results. Four breast cancer survivors ingested 80 grams of watercress (about 2 cups). Six and eight hours later, blood was drawn; PEITC levels were found to be elevated, and the effects of the watercress on white blood cells were measured. HIF activity was indeed reduced in these cells, confirming in humans the anti-cancer effects of watercress previously observed in cultured cells. [3, 5]

In short, PEITC from watercress prevents tumors from sending the signal to the body that requests a blood supply. Without a blood supply, the tumor cannot continue to grow. Watercress is a potent anti-cancer food!


For more information on the anti-cancer effects of cruciferous vegetables, read Dr. Fuhrman’s Newsletter #32.

 

References:
1. Higdon, J., et al., Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacological Research, 2007. 55(3): p. 224-236.
2. Rose, P., et al., Broccoli and watercress suppress matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and invasiveness of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, 2005. 209(2): p. 105-13.
3. Syed Alwi, S.S., et al., In vivo modulation of 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) phosphorylation by watercress: a pilot study. Br J Nutr, 2010: p. 1-9.
4. Chen, L., A. Endler, and F. Shibasaki, Hypoxia and angiogenesis: regulation of hypoxia-inducible factors via novel binding factors. Exp Mol Med, 2009. 41(12): p. 849-57.
5. Watercress may 'turn off' breast cancer signal. 9/14/2010 9/30/2010]; Available from: http://www.soton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2010/sep/10_94.shtml.

 

Food addiction is no joke

Emily Boller obeseMany of us have come out of, or are in the process of, coming out of years of severe food addictions that have consumed our every waking thought and action.

My food addiction got so bad that there were times I couldn't even enter the kitchen to prepare a meal for my family . . . without eating from the moment I started the food prep to the moment the meal was cleaned up afterwards. I could’ve been miserably stuffed, but if a quarter of a pan of lasagna remained, I ate it.

Unfortunately, my children never developed the habit of doing dishes after meals, because I wanted to be alone in the kitchen to devour their uneaten food left on plates (I have five kids), and crusty, greasy leftovers in pans, etc.
 

Denial is the cloak of addiction.  There's got to be a shift of one's mindset to accept the fact that food addiction is serious stuff; just as powerful and destructive as alcohol addiction or drug addiction.  Food addiction and resulting eating disorders and poor health are also destroying relationships, breaking up marriages, draining finances, and ruining homes ~ every bit as much.

 

Our society recognizes the seriousness of alcohol and drug addiction, but food addiction is a joke. Addictive foods and overeating are downplayed and promoted everywhere: by the government, the school systems, the entertainment industry, the medical industry, and even at places that should be sanctuaries of refuge such as houses of worship; therefore, we don't take it seriously. If everybody is participating in it, it must be okay, right?  Wrong.  Right along with "Say No to Drugs," "No Smoking," "Alcohol Prohibited," and "Mothers Against Meth," should be "Say No to Overeating," and "Citizens Against SAD!"
 

The truth is, we cannot, we dare not, mess with food addiction.  Period.  Abstinence and sobriety are just as critical to the food addict as they are to the alcoholic and drug addict. We must accept this fact; if we don't, we are undone. There's really no choice in the matter if we want to get completely free and get our health and lives back.

Making baby steps of change may work for some, but for the majority of us who’ve been entangled for years, we need to throw internal wrestling and debate out the window and just follow Dr. Fuhrman’s basic high-nutrient eating plan that’s outlined on p. 179 of Eat to Live. It’s been successfully proven over and over again to be the way out of the food addiction wilderness. 

Food addiction is no joke; it ruins lives. 

Let's all follow the path of freedom and become everything that we were meant to be!

before and after images


Previous posts related to this topic:  Are you a food addict?  It's time for a revolution!  Lubrication, I like that word  and  Why?

 

All images presented are before and after pictures of Emily Boller; 2008 & 2010.

 

Introducing Mitch Spinach!

Mitch Spinach

Introducing the new, healthy super-kid on the scene, Mitch Spinach™! With colorful illustrations and multicultural characters, this innovative and timely new children’s books series introduces Mitch Spinach™, a smart, cool role model who gains super powers from the nutritious plant foods he eats and solves exciting mysteries at Sunchoke Elementary.

 

We all know that it can be a struggle to get children to eat healthy foods, especially when their peers are so often eating junk food. Geared towards children ages 3-10, the first book in the series, The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach™, is unique because it prompts kids to eat healthy foods independently.

Mitch Spinach seems to be an ordinary kid, but his classmates have begun to suspect something. The notes in his custom-made, temperature- controlled Nutripak™ lunchbox appear to have been written in code. While other kids eat their usual chicken fingers and pepperoni pizza, Mitch Spinach mixes up his meal in a battery-powered blender before their curious and envious eyes. Although he is the smartest, nicest, strongest kid in Ms. Radicchio's class, he often misses recess when he is called to Principal Lycopene's office. The truth is that his high-powered fruit and vegetable smoothies give him special powers, such as super- sonic hearing and amazing night vision, to tackle problems and solve mysteries at Sunchoke Elementary.

The Mitch Spinach™ books include an additional Teaching Points section, written in collaboration with Dr Fuhrman, as well as bonus recipes. Dr. Fuhrman presides over the nutritional and medical aspects of the Mitch Spinach mission, ensuring that the information presented in the book and on the website are based on sound medical and nutritional evidence.

Oh, and, by the way, the website is really cool! It contains more nutrition facts, recipes, and fun, educational games and is a great resource for parents, kids, and educators.

Grab your own copy of The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach™ before it sells out!

Even if you don't have young children, this book is a perfect gift for
grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and any other kids who like mystery stories!

Check it out. It's truly a ground-breaking book series.

 

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