Asparagus Protects Your Liver from Alcohol, But You Still Shouldn't Drink

Alcohol can destroy your health. Last month, studies found alcohol heightens risk of both colon and prostate cancer, but now, new findings in the Journal of Food Science suggest nutrients in asparagus may protect the liver against alcohol toxins associated with hangovers.

Researchers at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in Korea analyzed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves to compare their biochemical effects on human and rat liver cells. "The amino acid and mineral contents were found to be much higher in the leaves than the shoots," says lead researcher B.Y. Kim.

Chronic alcohol use causes oxidative stress on the liver as well as unpleasant physical effects associated with a hangover. "Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with the extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots," says Kim. "These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells."

Booze is no party, even moderate drinking is suspect. Dr. Fuhrman insists moderate drinking—commonly defined as one drink a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks for men—may cause health problems, such extra body fat, cancer and atrial fibrillation.

Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other significant health problems.1 Even a moderate amount of alcohol may also increase the risk of breast cancer in susceptible women.2 The other problem with alcohol, especially more than one drink a day, is it can create mild withdrawal sensations the next day.

These sensations are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is necessary. Because of this, moderate drinkers are usually overweight. Furthermore, recent studies have also shown that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to a significantly increased incidence of atrial fibrillation, a condition that can lead to stroke.3

But asparagus is amazing! Dr. Fuhrman says it’s full of health-promoting vitamins and nutrients, such as calcium and folate. All these plant nutrients help protect against cancer.

Asparagus is one of the most healthful foods on the planet. It leads nearly all fruits and vegetables in the wide array of nutrients it supplies. Ten ounces (one box of frozen spears) have only 68 calories and 9 grams of protein, yet it is like a vitamin pill, giving you a variety of minerals such as selenium, zinc, calcium, copper, and manganese. Plus, it is very rich in folate.

Asparagus has an exceptionally high nutrient-per-calorie ratio and is the perfect weight-loss food. Anti--cancer compounds that have been shown to prevent tumors and cancers in animals are plentiful in asparagus. Asparagus also contains isothiocyanates, indoles, and sulforaphane, powerful compounds that promote cellular rejuvenation with anti-cancer properties.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, asparagus is also an excellent source of Vitamin E, along with whole grains, seeds, nuts, avocados, berries, green leafy vegetables and tomatoes.

1. Dallongeville J, Marecaux N, Ducmetiere P, et al. Influence of alcohol consumption and various beverages on waist girth and waist-to-hip ratio on a sample of French men and women. J Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1998;22(12):1178-1183.

2. Dumitrescu RG, Shields PG. The etiology of alcohol-induced breast cancer. Alcohol. 2005; 35(3):213-225.

3. Frost L, Vestergaard P. Alcohol and risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter: a cohort study. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(18):1993-1998. Mukamal KJ, Tolstrup JS, Friberg J, et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation in men and women: the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Circulation. 2005;112(12):1736-1742.

Image credit: Esteban Cavrico

Q & A: Coumadin and Atrial Fibulation

In March, a study came out saying people with type-2 diabetes have a 68% higher risk of heart failure due to atrial fibrillation, i.e. irregular heart beat. So, what’s the deal with atrial fibulation? Here’s a brief discussion about it from Dr. Fuhrman’s member center:

Question: Last January, I was admitted to the hospital and was diagnosed with atrial fibulation caused by hyperthyroid and needed to take Metoprolol, aspirin and Coumadin. My doctor said I had to take radioactive iodine to bring my thyroid back to normal and maybe would correct my irregular heart beat, which I did. It did nothing for my atrial fibulation.

Now he wants me to increase the Coumadin and have electrical cardioversion. This scares me. If I follow Eat For Health closely, I will be able to have a regular heart beat without medication in the future. Am I at a high risk for stroke with not taking Coumadin?

Dr. Fuhrman: Taking better care of your nutritional needs will in the long run help you  feel better without risks. I am not sure if by eating so much healthier it will put you back in normal heart rhythm eventually. Most likely if you have not gone back, you will need a cardioversion to bring you back.

I do not agree with that statement, "Am I at high risk of stroke with not taking Coumadin?" Instead that should say a person who eats a conventional diet is at a higher risk of stroke if they have atrial fibrillation and do not take Coumadin. I do not normally recommend Coumadin for atrial fibrillation for a person eating properly, who has attended to their cardiac risk factors.

Nevertheless, I do agree you need to take Coumadin before and for a short while after electro-conversion to put you back to establish a normal heart rhythm. So, essentially I agree that you should stay on the Coumadin for now, have the cardioversion and then soon after come off it, when you are back in normal rhythm again.

Image credit: CarbonNYC

Health-Points: Friday 5.15.09

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Big Guys More at Risk for Abnormal Heart Rhythm

New findings in the European Heart Journal reveal older men who were big in their 20s are more likely to suffer from atrial fibrillation, i.e. abnormal heart rhythm. The study, started in 1970, involved more than 7,000 men, ages 45 to 55, and asked participants to state their weight at 20 years old. Results showed atrial fibrillation increases linearly with body size and weight gain, and the larger men were in their 20s the more weight they gained throughout life. Researchers claim abnormal heart rhythm among men 60 to 70 years old will become more common as our overweight population ages; via EurekAlert!

More reason to be slim, at all ages, especially since a recent showed men with fat guts have lamer sex lives. Not something any guy wants to hear! Now, not only will veggies keep you fit and trim, but vegetable-based diets naturally prevent cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer, both very manly issues.

In related news, previous research suggests type-2 diabetics with irregular heart beat have 77% higher risk of heart attack or stroke and 68% increased risk of heart failure.

Image credit: Gary Simmons

Abnormal Heart Rhythm Increases Death-Risk in Diabetics

The new study published in the European Heart Journal involved 11,140 participants with type-2 diabetes. Data at the beginning of the study claims risk of death due to atrial fibrillation, i.e. irregular heart heat, was 61%. The risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke was 77% and 68% for heart failure. However, researchers determined these risks could be lowered if doctors prescribed aggressive treatments to diabetic patients with atrial fibrillation, in this case blood pressure-lowering drugs; via HealthDay News.

Relax, drugs aren’t the only option. Superior nutrition, i.e. lots of fruits and vegetables, has amazing cardio-protective effects, like rejuvenating blood vessels. High-nutrient diets are more effective than drugs at reserving heart disease and preventing diabetes.

In related news, studies have linked diabetes with heightened risk Alzheimer's disease, zinc, a nutrient found in peas, broccoli and kale, lowers the risk of diabetes in women and now the U.S. has 3 million more people with diabetes than in 2005. Eek!

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