Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't Forget Your Fiber

I'll have to admit that I did not start being concerned with my fiber needs until about three years ago. What a difference an adequate amount of high quality Fiber, both from fresh foods and from supplements has made for my health. I was glad to see a recent article from Yahoo! Health talk about some of the best whole food sources of Fiber. Part of that article and some of the good sources are listed below. For the full article, go here: 20 Best Foods for Fiber

In addition to lowering blood sugar, helping with cholesterol and possibly even preventing colon cancer, in my mind the most basic reason a person;s fiber intake should be sufficient is to keep the digestive system working properly so nutrients can be better absorbed.  

Fiber can lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol, and may even prevent colon cancer and help you avoid hemorrhoids. If it were a drug, the world would be clamoring for it.

But few people are getting enough.

Women should get about 25 grams a day and men at least 35 to 40, but the average person gets just 15 grams a day. Eating fiber-rich whole foods—not foods that tout "added fiber"—is the best way to increase your fiber intake, says Carolyn Brown, RD, a nutritionist at Foodtrainers, in New York City.

Here is a list of high-fiber foods:

Corn. A single ear of corn, which is about a half cup of corn kernels, contains 2 grams of fiber. Popcorn is also a terrific—and low-calorie—fiber source, with about 3.5 grams of fiber per three-cup serving.

Almonds. A quarter-cup handful makes a good balance, with about 3 grams of fiber and around 170 calories.

Black Beans. Black beans contain 15 grams of fiber per cup, and about 15 grams of protein.

Avocados. a great fiber source; a two-tablespoon serving of avocado has about 2 grams of fiber and an entire fruit contains around 10 grams.

Artichoke. A single boiled artichoke contains a whopping 10.3 grams of fiber, and you'll get 7.2 grams of fiber from a half cup of artichoke hearts.

Pear. A medium-size unpeeled pear contains about 5.5 grams of fiber.

Brown Rice. Every cup contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Remember brown rice, not white.

Edamame. A half-cup serving of edamame can contain up to 11 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber.

Lentils. Of the legume family is super-rich in fiber, with 15.6 grams per cup.

Raspberries. one cup will give you about a third of your daily fiber needs—they're also chock-full of powerful antioxidants.

Peas. One cup of split peas boasts 16.3 grams of fiber, and a cup of frozen peas contains a not-too-shabby 8.8 grams after cooking.

Broccoli. about 5.1 grams in a cup of boiled broccoli.

Apples. A single regular-size apple contains about 4.4 grams of fiber. Eat it with the skin on.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do We Need More Fat?

I read this article on Yahoo! HealthyLiving. I have previous written several posts on the benefits of an Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid Supplement. Read this article then my comments at the bottom.

When you hear the word "omega," you probably think, "healthy!" However, just as we've been learning over the past few years that all fats are not created equal, turns out, neither are all omegas. William D. Lassek, M.D., a public health doctor and the co-author of Why Women Need Fat, says there are two types of polyunsaturated fats that are essential to your health and must come from your diet: omega-6 and omega-3.

"Both types are required by our bodies and both are found in large amounts in our brains," explains Lassek. "Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are unquestionably beneficial, because they reduce both weight and inflammation and are very critical to healthy brain function," he says.

However, while our bodies do require some omega-6, Lassek says the excessive amount in the average American's diet has been shown to increase appetite and weight, and also promote inflammation in your body tissues. "Our extraordinarily heavy dose of omega-6 is not good for us," he says, noting that inflammation plays a critical role in coronary disease.

What is it about the modern diet that's leading you to eat too much omega-6? Like omega-3, omega-6 fats occur naturally in small amounts in plants and in the meat of animals that eat plants, while nuts and seeds tend to have more omega-3. "In the diet of our Stone Age ancestors, there was probably more omega-3 than omega-6," says Lassek. "The problem for us today is that there is more than 20 times as much omega-6 as omega-3 in the American diet."

The culprit? Industrially processed vegetable oils, like corn and soybean oils, which according to Lassek, are added to most prepared foods. Marjorie Nolan, RD, national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, agrees that the average American is consuming excessive amounts of omega-6. "A problem arises when the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is off," she says. "Omega-6 is easily found in the standard American diet, while omega-3 is not."

According to Nolan, your body needs a ratio of 1:1 omega-6 to omega-3, yet she says the typical American consumes at least 15 times as much omega-6 as omega-3.

Yikes! So what should you be eating so you're getting enough omega-3 and not consuming an excess of omega-6? According to Lassek, your best bets are wild-caught seafood (which has lower amounts of mercury than farm-raised); eggs from chickens fed diets enriched in omega-3; and meat from grass-fed animals (corn-fed supermarket meats are high in omega-6). Other good sources include flaxseed, canola and walnut oils, as well as dairy products from grass-fed cows.

And step away -- far, far away -- from that package of chips, especially if you're trying to lose weight. According to Lassek, who's a big fan of the Mediterranean-style diet, "Cutting way down on prepared foods and increasing foods rich in healthy and slimming omega-3 fats should help most women to gradually return to more natural weights."

MyAchingKnees comments:

The sources I use articulate an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios of 2:1, while the average western diet has a ratio of 20:1 to 40:1. This imbalance can affect prostaglandins produced within the body which are like chemical messengers between the cells. When these prostaglandins are out of balance inflammation can occur increasing our susceptibility to degenerative diseases. Because our western diets are high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids and we consume relatively little Omega 3 Fatty Acids, westerners have a tendency to have a higher imbalanced ratios of Omega 6 to 3.

While I agree with the gist of the article to eat better and consume more foods with natural Omega 3, this just isn't possible for most people hence the need for supplementation of Omega 3's through nutritional supplements. However, with the supplementation of Omega 3 Fatty Acids the need to consume the highest quality product is doubly important as Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements usually come in the form of fish oil and fish oil is thought to be the highest contaminated supplement with PCB's, mercury and other contaminants being found at a higher percentage than the toxins and impurities normally associated with food grade, off the shelf supplements.

There has been dramatic increases in the behavior of ADD/ADHD children when placed on Omega 3's; adults will sometimes feel a better cognitive function when taking high quality Omega 3's; joint health can be enhanced with Omega 3, not because they provide nutrients to the joint but because they decrease the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio and therefore inflammation which can results in many conditions including joint, particularly knee pain; lastly, Omega 3 can help lower cholesterol levels and be a good choice for people concerned about cardio-vascular and heart health.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do Orthotics and New Shoes Help Reduce Joint Pain?

I had a discussion the other day with an law enforcement professional in his late 30's, we'll call him Pedro, who is also an avid runner. He is experiencing arch, ankle and knee pain and someone directed him him to me to discuss what he may be able to do for it. And as it turns out, he is not interested in taking supplements and to his credit he does not even take pain killers or anti-inflammatory drugs, which in his profession, and even with the general population, is rare.

This guy runs sometimes five times a week, 3 to 8 miles at a time. Not a skinny guy, there is much pounding on the pavement that is absorbed in his feet, ankles and knees.....even his hips and back, but those are not hurting him yet.

He did see a Doctor who advised him on getting some cushioning orthotics and recommended ice and Motrin after each run.

My advice to Pedro was:

Find a foot specialist, better if they work in the smaller niche of sports related foot injury. I have had good experiences with orthotics, not just for running but for daily use;

Contacting Road Runner Sports about their diagnostic work on running shoes that could result in a good recommendation for running shoes based on the client sending their used shoes in for an evaluation. Buy two pair of the same shoes and rotate them for each run to give their soles enough time to decompress,...sometimes that takes up to 48 hours.

Reduce the running, in frequency and even maybe distance. Use speed work or fartleks to make up the different in aerobic workload. Rest and reduction in work load can stave off chronic injuries.

I also believe that fixing the problems with his feet will also help the ankles and knees, but probably not to the point where the pain is diminished to discomfort. Any time you have actual pain, then something is wrong and a trip to the Doctor is in order. Just keep in mind that Doctors tend to treat using medications and that is usually treating the symptoms and not the pain. And lastly I told Pedro that he really needs to consider a high quality Glucosamine to see if this nutrient will help the type of knee pain he has. It would be a cheap and non-invasive way to determine if his knee pain problem was a nutrient deficiency issue rather than a structural problem.

All in all, the solution for most problems is one single thing,...it's usually a combination of small changes.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Performance Enhancing Drugs

If you are a baseball fan you'll know that Milwaukee Brewer's outfielder Ryan Braun, selected as the National League’s MVP in 2011, has tested positive for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone and now faces a 50-game suspension from baseball.

You can't read the news without an athlete once or twice a month getting "caught" using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's). In fact, it seems like athletes using banned substances are hunted as hard as terrorists.

Nobody likes a cheater, and I used to always assume these athletes were guilty, but after reading a report by the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) on supplements, now I have doubts about automatic guilt.

Both reports were based on studies on nutritional supplements and concluded that a large percentage of these nutritional supplements not only had toxins or impurities, but some of the non-declared ingredients would cause an athlete to come up "hot" on a urine test for PED's. Hence, the USOC's negative stance on food grade supplements.

There are however many athletic organizations endorsing pharmaceutical grade supplement which are manufacture under strict compliance eliminating chances of impurities or banned substances. Makes sense if your million dollar (and more!) salary is in part dependent upon your urine tests coming back clean.

With the London Olympics quickly approaching, the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Association warned athletes to avoid foods that will make an athlete test positive on a drug screening. One of the foods on the list is Liver, which can increase the risk of an athlete testing positive for anabolic agent clenbuterol. The Food Standard Agency (FSA), a British government agency similar to the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., advised athletes against eating liver.

The FSA cannot rule out the possibility that if a large portion of liver is consumed containing clenbuterol at permitted residue limits, urine collected shortly after consumption may contain detectable levels of clenbuterol. This depends on many factors including the amount consumed, the timing of the urine test and the analytical methods used.

Bottom line for me is that I now, in my mind, give the athlete the benefit of the doubt until proven that they are a "cheater".

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Obese Children

From an article titled Georgia Childhood Obesity Campaign Draws Criticism, by Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! Healthy Living

A blunt new television ad campaign targeting childhood obesity is stirring up controversy. Spearheaded by the non-profit organization Strong4Life under the auspices of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the stark black and white images feature miserable-looking children, who happen to be paid actors, sharing how they are bullied and ostracized for being fat. The children also discuss being scared because they have been diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension.

James Zervios, the director of communications for the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), told Yahoo! Shine that his group challenged Strong4Life about the legitimacy and effectiveness of the ad's message when they first appeared in a print campaign back in the spring of 2011. The OAC believes "that the inappropriate messaging could lead to bullying."

One of the statements that the OAC found humiliating for overweight children read, "Big bones didn't make me this way. Big meals did."

Georgia ranks second in the nation for childhood obesity. Linda Matzigkeit, senior vice president of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta asserts that the hard-hitting campaign is exactly the wake-up call Georgians require to avert a catastrophic public health crisis. "We needed something that was more arresting and in your face than some of the flowery campaigns out there," Matzigkeit told ABC News. Nearly 1 million, or 40 percent, of kids in Georgia are considered overweight or obese. The campaign also points out that 75 percent of parents aren't aware that there is a problem.

Rebecca Puhl, Director of Research at the Rudd Center for Food Policy at Yale University agrees that childhood obesity is a grave issue facing America 's families, but says, "This campaign has the potential to harm the very individuals it aims to help." She explains that it is possible to be direct and communicate the seriousness of the problem without shaming people. "If Georgia wants to effectively address childhood obesity, much more careful consideration should be given to the kind of public health messages they are sending so children and their families are supported in their efforts to lead healthier lives," Puhl told Yahoo! Shine. Puhl says the ads blame kids and their families, perpetuate negative stereotypes, and offer no useful information. She also points out the number one reason kids are bullied and teased at school is body size.

Childhood obesity in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Their research points out that overweight and obese children are at a much greater risk for cardiovascular problems, diabetes, bone and joint disorders, and other many other serious diseases.

Marjorie Nolan, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sees the Georgia ad controversy as being complicated. "I agree that more needs to be done to raise awareness about childhood obesity," Nolan told Yahoo! Shine. "But these ads lack a message of what should be done to ultimately solve the problem."

MyAchingKnees comment: Sometimes the truth hurts. Something has to be done, because this country is in a “fat epidemic”. Some of it has to do with the quality of foods and availability of non-nutritional fast and processed foods that our kids eat, and, a lack of parental education on nutrition to our children. Childhood obesity is the main cause for the giant increase in adolescent diabetes that is being reported all over the country. The answer is in nutrition and education. However, I am not advocating, except in the most extreme cases, of abrogating parental rights like some people want when they suggest removing children from parents who let their children get too fat.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Health Check From a Survey?

I received a question from anonymous asking ”I recently ordered some nutritional supplements made specific to my needs based on an on-line survey I took. But as I began to think about this, I am now concerned with if this is a valid way to customize the supplements I need. Do you have any opinion on this?”

I would be interested in knowing the company you are using. I am aware of one company that sends you a urine kit. You provide a urine sample and mail it off. They supposedly determine your nutrients needs then custom build a nutritional supplement for you. I think this is as valid as the written on-line survey is to determine your nutrients and doses,……that is to say, not valid at all. I’ll bet if you ordered supplements from various parts of the country using different urine samples or different answers on your questionnaire, you will get the same nutrients in the same doses.

I an unaware of a company that customizes a nutrient package and doses per person. Even the most reputable companies, manufacturing the highest quality pharmaceutical grade supplements, make only one standard nutritional supplement for adults. Further deficiencies, although rare if the supplement you are taking is pharmaceutical grade, are made up by taking extra supplements called optimizers.

If you want to really see what nutrients you are lacking and what indicators of disease are troublesome, then you have to have a blood test.

LabCorp and HealthCheckUSA are two prominent companies who have really good service in this area. I have been using HealthCheckUSA and usually get a very complete blood workup done about every 18 months. Now I have about 5 blood tests going back eight years or so that allow me, and my physician (if I ever get one) to see the movement of scores across many categories related to the onset of degenerative disease.

LabCorp maybe only be usable via a Doctor’s script. I know HealthCheckUSA usually goes to local Pharmacies and this is a patient to lab relationship instead of a provider to Lab service relationship. There are undoubtedly other labs that can provide this service in your local area.



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