Are you continually fatigued?

Do you find yourself grabbing a cup of coffee to make it through the morning?

Do you reach for a pastry when you need a quick boost of energy?

Is food a stimulant to keep you going?

Emily Boller when she was a young motherFor years food was my stimulant to combat fatigue. As a young mother it was my drug of choice to make it through a stress-filled day of caring for a three-year-old, an 18-month-old, and a newborn. Fatigue was temporarily overcome with morning donuts and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Nap time for the babies meant *down time* for Mom; a bowl or two of caramel praline ice cream and corn chips. Nine o’clock bedtime for the kids began my happy hour of processed cereal, milk, and crunchy peanut butter. 

I didn’t know at the time that my overwhelming fatigue was an addictive withdrawal symptom from eating poorly. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman says that fatigue is one of the chief withdrawal symptoms mistaken for hunger and an excuse to eat for more stimulation. When a person eats healthfully, he/she no longer feels fatigue; although tiredness may be experienced when more sleep is needed. There’s a big difference.   

My addictive cycles continued for years.

When those babies got older, I had to keep up with the rat-race of soccer practices and games, wrestling matches, dance practices and recitals, 4-H meetings and projects, sleepovers, birthday parties, thrift shopping for kids’ clothes and shoes, and the never ending mountain of laundry that five children produced. Because I continued to eat poorly, McDonald’s drive thru was a necessary, mid afternoon pick-me-up when my fifth baby was asleep in his car seat in-between an older sibling’s dance practice and music lesson. Then I desperately needed that late night bowl of cereal and milk to calm my shakiness before crashing in bed.    

Food temporarily enhanced my alertness; it kept the shakiness and cravings of withdrawal at bay and boosted my motivation when I was down-in-the-dumps. Food had nothing to do with nutrition, but everything to do with stimulation and moment-to-moment survival. In fact, I had been incorrectly taught that shakiness and cravings were signs of low blood sugar and that I needed to eat, when actually they were symptoms of withdrawal. 

Perhaps today is the perfect time to hit the “pause” button of life and ask:

  • Is food a stimulant to temporarily energize the symptoms of fatigue due to addictive withdrawal?
  • Or is food a source of optimal nutrition to keep the body functioning at its very best?

 

The former will produce a sub par life of disease and continually feeling blaahhh.

The latter will produce a disease-free life full of health and vitality!

 

 

 

Interview with a Nutritarian: Susan

The most wonderful benefit of nutritarian eating is that it helps all ages and body sizes, from normal weight to morbidly obese get optimal health restored. Susan, a mother of seven, grandmother of 47, and great-grandmother of eight (and two more on the way!) is no exception. To meet her in person is a real treat, because she’s the epitome of youthful vitality even though she’s in her elderly years. Welcome to Disease Proof, Susan.

   

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

I'm 77-years-old, and my cholesterol was over 250 in October 2008 so I decided I must do something to bring it down. I was never overweight, but I was starting to have shortness of breath after climbing steps.  One of my son-in-laws was also having difficulty with his cholesterol so in December of that year, he and I started following Eat to LIve. [We had both learned about Eat to Live from my daughter-in-law who forwarded an email from you about the fantastic results you were experiencing from following it.]

 

How do you feel now?

After just a couple of months following Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations I no longer had the shortness of breath, and I started losing weight.  I am 5' 6" and weighed about 135 lbs when I started so I didn't anticipate that I would lose much weight. However, within five months I was down to 118 lbs. and have stayed about that weight ever since.  I’d never had a pair of jeans before, because I didn't think I would like the way I'd look in them; but after losing the weight from my hips I bought my first pair at the age of 75!

 

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

I have a smoothie that includes spinach nearly every morning, and at least five days a week I have vegetable soup for one of my meals.  I make large batches of soup and always have at least a half dozen containers of soup in the freezer at all times.

 

In a nutshell what has nutritarian eating done for you? 

When I had my cholesterol checked this past October it was down to 175.  My HDL was fairly high at 71, and my TC/HDL ratio was 2.5; which is very good.   Previously I had some problems with aches and pains, but they are totally gone now.

 I feel better now than I did ten or even fifteen years ago!

family field day

The picture above is Susan's family (minus ten members plus several new babies that have been born since it was taken.)  What an awesome clan!  We are so happy that she's feeling her best to fully enjoy many more quality years ahead with all of them! 

 

[Susan's son-in-law, Rod, was interviewed last year on Disease Proof.  Click here to read his story.]

A child needs a healthy diet to build a healthy brain

 A nutrient-rich diet is essential for children to develop optimal brain function. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health followed the dietary patterns of nearly 4,000 children from birth for over eight years. The study found that toddlers who ate a nutrient-rich diet full of fruits and vegetables had higher IQ scores when they reached 8 years of age compared to the toddlers who consumed processed foods full of fat and sugar.1 The foods that the toddlers ate had a dramatic long term effect on their brain function. 

Nutrition plays an important role in brain development during all stages of childhood.

Students. Flickr: knittymarieWhereas the brain grows fastest in the first few years of life, it continues to develop throughout adolescence.2 Thus, it is important that children of all ages consume a high nutrient diet to ensure adequate brain development. Breastfeeding mothers who themselves eat a high nutrient diet pass on those nutrients to their children, improving their children’s cognitive development.Children who are breastfed past their first birthday have higher IQ scores than children who are raised on formula.3 A greater proportion of an infant’s diet made up of breast milk also correlates to greater brain volume in adolescence.4 This is due in part to the DHA content of breast milk, since DHA is a major component of brain cell membranes. Breast milk is not only an important source of DHA, but it provides many other essential nutrients for the developing brain, as well as promoting the health of the immune and respiratory systems and supporting overall childhood health. 5-7 Upon the introduction of solid foods, greater consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with higher IQ and better memory skills when children reach 4 years of age.8  In school-age children, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as increased cholesterol intake have been linked to diminished intelligence and poor academic performance.9-10

Children who eat a nutrient-dense diet are providing their brains with supplementary antioxidant support.

The brain uses the most oxygen and produces most energy of any part of body, and thus it is highly susceptible to oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress is inflammation caused by uncontrolled free radicals.  Free radicals can propagate throughout the cell, damaging the cell and even lead to cell death. Cells have their own antioxidant defense enzymes to process the free radicals, but they are not 100% efficient and we must use dietary antioxidants to process the rest.11 The brain’s antioxidant defenses becoming overwhelmed is one of the main mechanisms of brain aging, and this has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.12-13 Thus, a healthy, antioxidant rich diet is especially beneficial for the brain and is likely involved in the association between plant food consumption and higher IQ scores.

The foods children consume early in life provide them with the raw materials to construct their brains and ultimately supply their brain power. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts and seeds is the only way to ensure children get the array of phytochemicals, antioxidants, fatty acids and other micronutrients to adequately supply their growing brains.

 

References:

1Northstone K, Joinson C, Emmett P, Ness A, Paus T. Are dietary patterns in childhood associated with IQ at 8 years of age? A population-based cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2011 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21300993.

2Porter JN, Collins PF, Muetzel RL, Lim KO, Luciana M. Associations between cortical thickness and verbal fluency in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Neuroimage. 2011 Jan 19. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21255662.

3Mortensen EL, Michaelsen KF, Sanders SA, Reinisch JM. The association between duration of breastfeeding and adult intelligence. JAMA. 2002 May 8;287(18):2365-71.

4 Isaacs EB, Fischl BR, Quinn BT, et al. Impact of breast milk on intelligence quotient, brain size, and white matter development. Pediatr Res. 2010 Apr;67(4):357-62.


5 Ladomenou F, Moschandreas J, Kafatos A, et al. Protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding against infections during infancy: a prospective study. Arch Dis Child. 2010 Dec;95(12):1004-8.

6Katzen-Luchenta J. The declaration of nutrition, health, and intelligence for the child-to-be. Nutr Health. 2007;19(1-2):85-102.

7University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (2010, November 1). Breast milk study furthers understanding of critical ingredients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/10/101027145849.htm

8Gale CR, Martyn CN, Marriott LD, et al. Dietary patterns in infancy and cognitive and neuropsychological function in childhood.  J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Jul;50(7):816-23.

9Schoenthaler SJ, Bier ID, Young K, Nichols D, Jansenns S. The effect of vitamin-mineral supplementation on the intelligence of American schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Feb;6(1):19-29. PubMed PMID: 10706232.

10Zhang J, Hebert JR, Muldoon MF. Dietary fat intake is associated with psychosocial and cognitive functioning of school-aged children in the United States. J Nutr. 2005 Aug;135(8):1967-73.

11Kidd, Parris M. "Neurodegeneration from Mitochondrial Insufficiency: Nutrients, Stem Cells, Growth Factors, and Prospects for Brain Rebuilding Using Integrative Management." Alternative Medicine Review 10 (2005): 268-293.

12Aliev G, Smith MA, Seyidova D, et al. The role of oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of cerebrovascular lesions in Alzheimer’s Disease. Brain Pathol 2002;12:21-35.

13Barja G. Free radicals and aging. Trends Neurosci 2004;27:595-600.

Compromises are the seeds of addiction

cookies

One doesn’t just wake up one day suddenly caught in the entanglement of an unhealthy addiction. Unhealthy addictions are formed by repetitions of small, seemingly insignificant compromises of what we know to be good for us.  The danger of little compromises is they easily turn into bigger ones.

Typically, rationalizations spark the fire of compromise:

 

  • “It’s late. I’m tired ~ just a piece of toast with almond butter before bed won’t hurt me.”
  • “It’s the Super Bowl. Everyone is eating. Even though I’m not hungry, I’ll snack just this one time with everyone else. I’m not addicted to salt anymore so I can start over tomorrow; no problem.”
  • “Woah, I made way too much smoothie, and I only like to drink them when fresh. Oh well, just this one time won’t hurt to drink all of it. I hate to waste anything.”
  • “I know that I should only eat when truly hungry, but those homemade cookies left on the countertop were calling my name. I couldn’t help myself.”

 

It takes commitment to intentional choices, a solid plan, to keep one off the radar screen of addiction. 

 

Commitment is an action of the mind; a promise that’s based on knowledge. Commitment is hard at times. It’s never the easy way in the heat of a tempting moment.

 

Compromise is an action of the emotions; based on feelings, excuses and rationalizations. Compromise is easy. Any little thing is an excuse to give into impulses of the moment.

 

Perhaps it’s time to honestly evaluate our commitment or lack thereof. Are we committed to eating for optimal health, or are we eating according to feelings?

One produces freedom from addiction. The other produces captivity to it. 

In the heat of the moment, follow the plan.

Freedom to all! 

 

 

image credit: flicr by Kimberlykj

Stand up, walk around, and cut down on inflammation

Prolonged sitting is associated with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality.[1, 2] This is troubling, since most of us sit for most of the day. Since 1950, there has been an 83% increase in sedentary jobs.[3] Many of us sit all day while we work, and then go home and sit for most of the evening – at the dinner table, at the computer, and on the couch.

Photo of computer desk and chair

Just like exercise, prolonged sitting has distinct physiological effects. But unlike exercise, sitting has unhealthy effects. After just a few days of bed rest, increased insulin resistance and unfavorable vascular changes can be detected in healthy subjects.[4]

Exercise is one effective way to counteract these effects, but what about the rest of our day? If we spend an hour, or even two, exercising vigorously each day, is that enough to counteract the effects of the 8-12 hours we may spend sitting down? It turns out that the answer is no. Of course, exercise is beneficial – regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and several cancers. However, prolonged sitting has been linked to increased risk of death regardless of the amount of exercise activity performed.[5]

In addition to exercising daily, we also need to increase our non-exercise physical activity. Non-exercise physical activity, though its intensity is low, makes a significant contribution to our overall calorie expenditure. In fact, in people who do not exercise regularly, 90% of caloric expenditure is on standing, non-exercise movement. [6] We can increase non-exercise physical activity simply by taking frequent breaks from sitting. When we are sitting our muscles are idle, but once we stand up, there is measurable activity in the large muscles of our legs (graphically represented in Figure 3A here) – the body is physically active when we are standing.[6]

In one study, participants wore accelerometers, devices that keep track of physical activity intensity, to track their total quantity and sedentary time and number of interruptions (breaks) in sedentary time. Prolonged sitting was associated with larger waist circumference and higher C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) levels. But interruptions in sedentary time made a difference – regardless of the amount of time spent sitting, a greater number of interruptions in sedentary time was associated with smaller waist circumference and lower C-reactive protein.[7, 8]

Frequent but short bouts of non-exercise activity, like standing up from your desk to stretch, taking a quick walk around the office, standing up while taking a phone call, walking to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator contribute to increasing the number of interruptions in our sedentary time.

Unfortunately, sedentary jobs are the norm, but we can use exercise and frequent breaks from sitting to help us counteract the unhealthy effects of our sedentary days.

 

 

References:

1. van Uffelen, J.G., et al., Occupational sitting and health risks: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med, 2010. 39(4): p. 379-88.
2. Manson, J.E., et al., Walking compared with vigorous exercise for the prevention of cardiovascular events in women. The New England journal of medicine, 2002. 347(10): p. 716-25.
3. The Price of Inactivity. American Heart Association.
4. Hamburg, N.M., et al., Physical inactivity rapidly induces insulin resistance and microvascular dysfunction in healthy volunteers. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 2007. 27(12): p. 2650-6.
5. Patel, A.V., et al., Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2010. 172(4): p. 419-29.
6. Hamilton, M.T., D.G. Hamilton, and T.W. Zderic, Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, 2007. 56(11): p. 2655-67.
7. Healy, G.N., et al., Sedentary time and cardio-metabolic biomarkers in US adults: NHANES 2003-06. European heart journal, 2011.
8. European Society of Cardiology: More breaks from sitting are good for waistlines and hearts. ScienceDaily, 2011.

 

Supporting a loved one through food addiction

Kurt and Emily Boller's wedding dayThirty years ago this Valentines Day my husband and I became officially engaged. We were young, naïve, and deeply in love. Little did we know about the dark prison that lie just ahead for both of us with my budding food addiction and resulting binge eating disorder and obesity. While we were dating, I had confided that I had a “food problem,” but neither of us had any clue whatsoever how powerful it was, or how severely food addiction would take over and practically destroy my life. [Back in 1981 food addiction was not openly discussed or understood like it is today.] Since today is a special day for sweethearts, I want to focus on those who are supporting a spouse or significant other through food addiction by inviting my husband, Kurt, to share his thoughts on the topic. Welcome to Disease Proof, Kurt.  

 

What was your initial reaction when I first told you that I had a “food problem” when we were dating?

 I thought it was no big deal.  After all, in my mind I thought, “Who doesn’t have an extra piece of cake once in awhile?”  Besides, you were so special to me that I couldn’t believe there was anything that was a problem.

 

From your perspective, what was it like to discover and see first-hand the seriousness of my food addiction / binge eating disorder after we were married?

It was hard, especially when it seemed like you were out of control.  I could see that you wanted out of the addiction, yet seemed helpless to help yourself.  My first reaction was to try to control things, and being a typical guy, I thought it was something that I needed to fix. Unfortunately as I tried unsuccessfully to “fix” it, usually in an unproductive way, it only made the addiction worse.

 

Emily Boller when obeseHow did it make you feel?

I felt disappointed and cheated. I realize now that I had very unrealistic expectations and views on life, but unfortunately, my perception was my reality at the time.

 

What was the turning point for you?

I don’t think there was one point as much as a series of turns.  I was so frustrated and disappointed that I got honest with God about how I felt.  Then I just didn’t care anymore.  For awhile I did my own thing, and found ways to detach myself and emotionally escape.  It was just easier to give up and not care or try to help anymore.  Eventually God pointed out my own “stuff” that I needed to deal with; and even though the food addiction was a terrible situation, He used it to burn up some of my own crud that was an issue as well.   We went to a professional counselor, and I learned the only person that I could change was me.  That was a huge turning point in the process because I finally stopped trying to change you.  I worked on dealing with my own garbage, and then I started to believe you when you’d say, “Someday I’m going to get free.”  

           

Emily afterWhat has it been like to see me get free from food addiction and get my health back?

 

It was like a light came on and good things started happening immediately when you committed to Eat to Live ~ beyond anything either one of us had ever dreamed.  It was amazing.  To see someone go from getting beat up mentally, emotionally and physically with food addiction to being healthy, confident, and free; and helping others to do the same is indescribable.  It’s like watching the movie “Rocky” for the first time; witnessing someone that you love and want the best for finally winning in a war they’ve been fighting for years. 

 

 

What are your thoughts to share with others who are supporting a loved one through food addiction and resulting eating disorders and diseases? 

 

  • Be honest with yourself and acknowledge your feelings.  Stuffing your frustrations and anger only makes it worse.

  • Be committed to the relationship.  Everyone needs someone solid and a good influence in their life.

  • Realize you can’t change them.  The only person that you can change is yourself. 

  • There may be times when you’ll need to pull back so your “boat” doesn’t sink.  A person drowning in addiction can pull others down with them so maintain your own mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health; just don’t abandon them.

  • Seek professional counseling for the person as well as yourself.  Not all counselors are equal.  If a counselor doesn’t help, then keep looking. The key is being willing to be totally honest about the underlying root problems and cut out the destructive issues that psychologically fuel addiction.

  • Don’t quit.  Never give up.  Never give in.  Never, Never, Never.  Like the old adage goes, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!”

     

     

 

 

Related posts:

Are you a food addict?  by Dr. Fuhrman

Freedom is for everyone!  by Emily Boller

Interview with a Nutritarian: Candee

Candee was first introduced to Eat to Live at one of my library talks in Fort Wayne, Indiana; but like many successful nutritarians it took her awhile to fully commit to following the eating plan. However, once she made the commitment, she took off running at full speed! She lost fifty pounds and now feels like she has her life back! Welcome to Disease Proof, Candee.

        Candee before and after

What was your life like before discovering Eat to Live?

I have always struggled with my weight, and I’m a lifetime member of two other weight loss programs.  In my thirties I was thin and worked out after work everyday, and I ran 3 or 4 miles several times a week. At that time I didn't have a husband or kids. In my forties the weight started creeping on and I did lose most of it on the Atkins Diet; only to gain it right back and then some. I struggled with sugar, and over the last ten years I quit trying to get healthy and had pretty much stayed at the same (overweight) weight. I felt like hiding and didn't want to participate in physical activities, because it was too much effort and I was always tired.

I bought Eat to Live as soon as you told me about it, and read it while on vacation. I had good intentions to start following it as soon as I got home, but the commitment wasn’t a solid one. However, I did start drinking blueberry / spinach smoothies. 

 

How do you feel now?

I feel like I have my life back!  I no longer have sugar cravings, and I have lots of energy and confidence now. I feel like the real me is here again because I’m not embarrassed by how I look anymore; plus I’m not afraid to try new activities again. This past summer while on vacation we climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes in northern Michigan. The summer before I would have been waiting in the car!  I also had to go horseback riding with my daughter on Mackinaw Island because my husband is allergic to horses, and I was able to successfully do it! 

 

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

 

  • Make the decision to do it. 

  • Change the way you think. It’s about getting healthy; not just losing weight.   

  • Eat to Live gives a good plan to follow. I planned out what I would eat everyday and it has never been a problem for me. I eat oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. I always make a big pot of bean or vegetable soup to eat for lunch, and salad or raw veggies and a hot vegetable dish and nuts/seeds for supper.  I try lots of new recipes, and it has really helped me to have a handful of favorites that I know also fit the eating plan. 

 

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

I’ve lost 50 pounds, and went from size 16 down to a size 6; plus, my cholesterol dropped 60 points! I no longer have acid reflux disease, of which I had taken medication for 20 years. I’m still taking blood pressure medication, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be off of that entirely this year. I’ll turn 57 this month and I feel like I’m no longer getting older; I’m getting better!!

  

Congratulations Candee and keep up the great job!

Salt increases heart attack and stroke risk, even if blood pressure is normal

Excess dietary salt is notorious for increasing blood pressure – blood volume increases, placing more stress on blood vessel walls. This forces the heart to pump harder against the pressure, and also structural changes that harden the vessel wall (this hardening is called stenosis) occur in response to these high pressures.

About one-third of all American adults and over 50% of those over the age of 55 have hypertension, and hypertension carries significant risks. Elevated blood pressure accounts for 62% of strokes and 49% of coronary heart disease. [1] Notably, the risk for heart attack and stroke begins climbing with systolic pressures (first number in the blood pressure reading) above 115 mm Hg – considered “normal” by most standards.[2] Also, dietary salt is not only dangerous to the cardiovascular system, but also contributes to kidney disease, osteoporosis , ulcers, and stomach cancer. [3]

There is new evidence that excess dietary sodium intake promotes atherosclerotic plaque development and heart disease, even in those without elevated blood pressure.

In the 1990s, it was found that the relationship between salt intake and stroke mortality was stronger than the relationship between blood pressure and stroke mortality; this suggested that salt may have deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system that are not related to blood pressure.[4] Excess sodium in the diet affects sodium concentrations in the blood, which affects the cells of the blood vessel wall and blood volume, even if blood pressure itself does not change. The eventual results are long-term changes in vessel wall structure, including thickening of the vessel wall and arterial stiffening. Excess dietary sodium prompts changes in hormonal systems and also gene expression in endothelial cells (the cells that make up the inner lining of blood vessels). These changes in turn promote excessive growth of vascular smooth muscle cells, which contributes to thickening of vessel wall, and altered production of structural proteins, such as collagen, elastin, and fibronectin, which contributes to arterial stiffening. Dietary salt has also been associated with endothelial dysfunction (the inability of endothelial cells to properly regulate blood pressure), which is one of the initiating events of atherosclerotic plaque formation. [5-8]

The study population consisted of overweight and obese individuals withoutelevated blood pressure., Their sodium intake was evaluated by measuring the amount of sodium excreted in the urine. The authors found that higher urinary sodium (indicating higher sodium intake) was associated with greater carotid artery intima-media thickness – a predictor of future cardiovascular events. Intima-media thickness (IMT) is an indicator of atherosclerotic plaque development and is established in the medical literature as an accurate predictor of future cardiovascular risk. IMT testing is a non-invasive ultrasound technique for imaging any abnormal thickening in the intima (inner lining) and media (smooth muscle layer) layers of the carotid artery. Thickening indicates atherosclerotic plaque formation, and therefore increased risk of heart attack or stroke. [9] I use this test to assess cardiovascular risk and track patients’ progress in my medical practice.

Reducing dietary salt is not only important for those who already have elevated blood pressure – limiting added salt is essential for all of us to keep our cardiovascular systems in proper working order. On top of consuming the vast majority of our calories from phytochemical-rich, unrefined plant foods, salt avoidance adds another layer of protection against heart attack and stroke. It is also important to remember that a low fat, flexitarian or vegan diet plus a low cholesterol level does not protect you from developing high blood pressure later in life from years of using too much salt; it also does not protect you against the risk of later life hemorrhagic stroke, as long as you overly salt your food.

 

 

References:

1. He, F.J. and G.A. MacGregor, A comprehensive review on salt and health and current experience of worldwide salt reduction programmes. J Hum Hypertens, 2009. 23(6): p. 363-84.
2. Lewington, S., et al., Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet, 2002. 360(9349): p. 1903-13.
3. Tsugane, S. and S. Sasazuki, Diet and the risk of gastric cancer: review of epidemiological evidence. Gastric Cancer, 2007. 10(2): p. 75-83.
4. Perry, I.J. and D.G. Beevers, Salt intake and stroke: a possible direct effect. J Hum Hypertens, 1992. 6(1): p. 23-5.
5. Simon, G., Experimental evidence for blood pressure-independent vascular effects of high sodium diet. Am J Hypertens, 2003. 16(12): p. 1074-8.
6. Sanders, P.W., Vascular consequences of dietary salt intake. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol, 2009. 297(2): p. F237-43.
7. Safar, M.E., et al., Pressure-independent contribution of sodium to large artery structure and function in hypertension. Cardiovasc Res, 2000. 46(2): p. 269-76.
8. Dickinson, K.M., J.B. Keogh, and P.M. Clifton, Effects of a low-salt diet on flow-mediated dilatation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(2): p. 485-90.
9. Lorenz, M.W., et al., Prediction of clinical cardiovascular events with carotid intima-media thickness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation, 2007. 115(4): p. 459-67.

 

Inspired by Dr. Fuhrman's nutrition message: Food for Life teaches children and families how to enjoy healthy foods

 by Natalie Obermeyer

Vegetables consist of less than 2% of American children’s diets, and the CDC predicts that for the first time in history the current generation of children will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.1,2

Jennifer Taylor and Theresa Roden of the Wellness Foundation are aiming to improve the health of children and their families by inspiring them to eat nutrient rich diets. Students learn the how they can prevent diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and live long, healthy lives through what they eat. In each class students learn a lesson about a specific topic such as the benefits of the phytonutrients in vegetables, the “not so sweet truth” about sugar, and the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. Then, students get to prepare and eat their own nutrient-rich foods including green smoothies, fruit salad with cashew cream, and avocado bean dip. The children love the fun, interactive class and discovering many new healthy foods.

 

“We have a choice and I choose to be a healthy kid. Thank you Food for Life!”– Luis, student

Children

“I never thought eating healthy and learning about nutrition could be so much fun. I do not want to have heart disease or type 2 diabetes when I grow up, so I pledge to lead a healthier life. This program has really changed my life.” – Ben, student

Children drinking green smoothies

Food for Life has dramatically impacted the entire families of its participants. Students are encouraged to invite their parents and even grandparents to attend the classes, and students beg their parents to attend. Parents join the classes over their lunch hour, and it is not uncommon for the class to have almost 100% parent participation. With the whole family learning together, the nutrition students learn in school can be implemented at home as well. Parents themselves are experiencing the benefits, and many no longer need insulin or other drugs.

Food for Life is now expanding its program to other schools and is in the process of creating a curriculum for pre-school and 3rd graders. Eventually they plan to provide the program for pre-school, kindergarten, third, sixth, ninth and twelfth graders. They want to empower as many students as possible to take control of their health by developing habits that will last a lifetime.

Children can learn to love healthy food, and the Food for Life program is proof of this. Well done, Wellness Foundation, for exposing children to nutritional knowledge and healthy cooking!

 

References:

1Fox MK, Pac S, Devaney B, Jankowski L. Feeding infants and toddlers study: What foods are infants and toddlers eating? L Am Diet Assoc 2004;104(1 Suppl):s22-s30

2Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, Carnes BA, Brody J, Hayflick L, Butler RN, Allison DB, Ludwig DS. A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. N Engl J Med. 2005 Mar 17;352(11):1138-45. PubMed PMID: 15784668.

 

The human mind prefers a healthy carotenoid glow over a suntan

In spite of the well-known damaging effects of the sun on our skin, many of us still perceive a tan as healthy-looking. But you don’t need to risk the health of your skin in the sun or a tanning bed to make it look healthy - the sun isn’t the only factor that can alter skin color.

Carotenoids are a group of 600 antioxidants including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin. The richest sources of carotenoids are green, orange, and red vegetables and fruits. Many health-promoting phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenols are pigment molecules that provide both attractive colors and health benefits. We are drawn to the vibrant colors of fresh produce that signal health benefits, and a new study has found that we can discern with our eyes how healthy the diet of a potential mate is.

 

Pigmentation in many species is perceived as a sign of health – birds for example. Carotenoids (both dietary and self-produced) are responsible for the bright feather colors of male birds, which make them more attractive to potential mates. There is evidence that in birds, dietary carotenoids do not merely serve this cosmetic purpose – increased carotenoid intake in birds may also improve color vision, sperm quality, and the health of offspring. [1]

The new study investigated people’s perception of skin ‘lightness’ and ‘yellowness’ – yellowness is influenced by both carotenoids and melanin (melanin increases in response to sun exposure). Researchers asked subjects to choose from sets of photos of two different skin colors – one whose yellowness was due to melanin, and one due to carotenoids – which skin color appeared healthier. Subjects consistently chose carotenoid coloration over melanin coloration. [2]

According to first author of the paper Ian Stephen, “We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun.” [3]

There is a direct relationship between skin appearance and health – if your skin does not have an orange tinge, then you are not on a healthy diet. You can even quantify your skin carotenoid levels, which reflect dietary carotenoid intake, using a specialized scanner. [4, 5] I use one of these scanners in my medical practice to confirm that phytochemicals have accumulated in the skin of patients, affording them protection against cancer and other chronic diseases. Plus these phytonutrients in the skin offer protection from sun damage, aging of the skin and skin cancer from sun exposure. [6]

So eating carotenoid-rich food is not only a path to excellent health – it’s also a way to look good!

 

References:
1. Carotenoids Are Cornerstone of Bird's Vitality. ScienceDaily, 2009.
2. Stephen, I.D., Coetzee, V., Perrett, D.I., Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2010.
3. Looking good on greens. Eurekalert!, 2011.
4. Ermakov, I.V. and W. Gellermann, Validation model for Raman based skin carotenoid detection. Arch Biochem Biophys, 2010. 504(1): p. 40-9.
5. Ermakov, I.V., et al., Resonance Raman detection of carotenoid antioxidants in living human tissue. J Biomed Opt, 2005. 10(6): p. 064028.
6. 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.