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Tuesday, 22 November 2022

3 Key health benefits of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin

 Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is essential for the body’s important systems. When the skin is exposed to direct sunlight, it triggers the production of vitamin D3 – its natural form.

Vitamin D3 causes cellular differentiation – the opposite of cancer – once it is activated in the liver and kidneys. It can inhibit the growth of malignant cancer cells and prevent the development of new blood vessels that supply nutrients and transport these bad cells throughout the body.

But aside from its anticancer properties, vitamin D also helps the body function properly in more ways than one. Here are three other benefits of the sunshine vitamin.

Vitamin D boosts the immune system

Optimal vitamin D levels have been shown to regulate the immune systems to effectively ward off pathogens. A paper published March 2013 in PLOS One stated that lower vitamin D levels are associated with an increased susceptibility to infection.

Moreover, a study published January 2021 in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care found that those infected with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) had a lower death risk when given vitamin D alongside the standard treatment. The authors of the January 2021 study added that if vitamin D is given early enough, COVID-19 mortality risk is slashed by about 60 percent.  

Vitamin D supports healthy pregnancies

Researchers wrote in an October 2020 study published in Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women. They argued that doing so could improve maternal and fetal health, and suggested that pregnant women be supplemented with a minimum of 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D for this purpose.

 

“Low maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy may be associated in infants with a higher risk for lower bone mineral content, enamel defects and attention deficit hyperactive disorder,” they wrote.

Vitamin D strengthens bones

According to a 2010 study published in Nutrients, inadequate vitamin D intake over long periods of time can lead to bone demineralization. Researchers have linked bone demineralization to different conditions, such as osteoporosis (severe bone weakness and brittleness), osteomalacia (bone softening) in adults and rickets in children.

“Few dietary sources naturally contain the vitamin in sufficient quantities to make a significant contribution to requirements,” said the study. Nevertheless, vitamin D intake remains fundamental to ensure stronger and harder bones.

Kerry Clifford, a registered dietitian with the National Dairy Council, said the plant-derived form of vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is naturally found in mushrooms. Cholecalciferol, another name for vitamin D3, can be found in fatty fishes, fish liver oils, egg yolks and fortified milk products.

People who rely on their diets for their vitamin D intake typically do not go beyond 288 IU every day on average. In fact, an eight-ounce glass of milk only contains 100 IU – one-sixth the amount many adults need daily.

Vitamin D supplements, however, can help adults reach the 600 IU goal of vitamin D every day. In one instance, women between the ages of 51 and 70 only had a daily vitamin D intake of 156 IU from their diets. Supplementation helped them reached a higher goal of 404 IU.

New Study Reveals Intermittent Fasting Can Have These Dangerous Side Effects

 There is a fair share of benefits to intermittent fasting (IF)—a diet where you eat only within a limited window of time (generally 8 hours) and fast for the remaining hours of the day. IF has become a popular option for those who aim to improve their health via their diet as one of these benefits includes weight loss. However, a new study has found that this eating pattern can lead to dangerous side effects.

The new study, which was published in the journal Eating Behaviors, involved an analysis of data from the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors. Taking into consideration information regarding more than 2,762 adolescents and young adults, the findings showed that over the course of one year, 38.4% of men, 47.7% of women, and 52% of transgender or gender non-conforming individuals had used intermittent fasting.

Those behind the study discovered that intermittent fasting was significantly associated with disordered eating behaviors. For women, that included binge eating and vomiting as well as compulsive exercise, while men tended to engage in the latter.

"Given our findings, it is problematic how prevalent intermittent fasting was in our sample," said lead author Kyle T. Ganson, Ph.D., MSW, assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, according to EurekAlert!

Jason M. Nagata, MD, MSc, a co-author of the study and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, added, "The associations found between intermittent fasting and eating disorder behaviors are particularly salient, given the significant increase in eating disorders among adolescents and young adults since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic." 

"The study shows an association that we already see in practice," Mary Curnutte, MS, RD, LD, of the Louisville Center for Eating Disorders, tells Eat This, Not That! "Clients often start the practice of intermittent fasting to 'be healthy' as this is something promoted as healthy. However, restricting our intake can lead to other extreme eating behaviors. Ignoring hunger can cause hunger to build, resulting in overeating and binge eating. These behaviors can also trigger compensatory behaviors such as over-exercise or vomiting."

"Additionally, those prone to restrictive eating disorders can find that the restriction in intermittent fasting will then trigger these restrictive urges," Curnutte says. "I am glad to see a study that uses a large data set to show that these associations are significant, so we can communicate to others that intermittent fasting is something to be careful about."

Curnutte also notes that "those with a history of an eating disorder should never intermittent fast under any circumstance." Additionally, "those who feel they have a tricky relationship with food should avoid this as well."

For others who are interested in intermittent fasting, Curnutte says, "Our bodies naturally fast overnight. When giving yourself an overnight food break, our bodies will see these fasting benefits. If someone decides they would like to intermittent fast for a time longer than our natural overnight fast when we sleep, I encourage them to discuss it with a Registered Dietitian to make sure they are not missing a key component that may harm their body."

The 10 Best Superfoods To Alleviate Joint Pain

 Death and taxes, loneliness and self-criticism, opposable thumbs, and a love of ice cream. These are just a few things most humans share. You can add joint pain to the list of commonalities. And if you feel like an anomaly because you happen to be pain-free now, just wait a while.

More than 58 million people in the United States suffer from joint pain—24% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis is the common denominator. There are different forms of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the biggie, usually a casualty of increasing age. It causes the most joint pain, by far.

Fortunately, there's something you can do every day to help alleviate joint pain: eat a healthier diet. "Osteoarthritis (OA) is generally linked to being overweight," says Eatthis.com medical review board member Julie Upton, MS, RD, a registered dietitian. "Losing weight can help you get your OA under control."

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, characterized by a deterioration of the cushioning cartilage within joints. Being overweight can put added pressure on joints, especially knee and hip joints, often causing bone-on-bone rubbing that triggers aching, pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Another common type of arthritis can trigger debilitating pain, too—rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning your immune system mistakenly releases chemicals to attack the lining of your joints. While different from OA, RA-triggered pain can be relieved through diet, too, specifically by reducing the chronic inflammation caused by that faulty immune response.

"The dietary advice for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is essentially the same balanced, high-fiber, plate-based diet that includes seafood on a regular basis," says registered dietitian nutritionist Elizabeth Ward, MS, RN, co-author of The Menopause Diet Plan, A Natural Guide to Managing Hormones, Health and Happiness. "Body fat is pro-inflammatory. By eating this way people may find they lose eight while preserving muscle, which supports joints, taking pressure off weight-bearing joints and reducing overall inflammation and joint pain."

 

Apples, broccoli, and citrus

salad with broccoli and green apple
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For alleviating joint pain, you can't go wrong by filling your plate with more produce. "Fruits and vegetables are powerhouse foods rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation in joints and muscles," says Ward. "They also supply fiber to keep you fuller for longer and help maintain your blood glucose level better than foods rich in simple sugars." Shoot for at least two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables per day. 

Berries and pomegranates

Among fruits with the highest amounts of bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects are blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and pomegranates. Also, certain fruit polyphenols, including quercetin and citrus flavonoids, have been shown to specifically alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to the journal Food & Function.

Fatty fish

Eating salmon, sardines, mackerel, canned light tuna, or other fatty fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids a few times a week may help reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Studies show that having a greater ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6s suppresses inflammation in people with RA. Omega-6s are inflammation-provoking polyunsaturated fatty acids that we typically get too much of from the fried and processed foods and meats found in the standard American diet.

Turmeric

Turmeric powder and root
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The yellowish-orange spice turmeric typically used in curries and other Southeast Asian foods has been used to remedy joint pain for thousands of years. The active ingredient in the spice is curcumin, a polyphenol with anti-inflammatory properties, that shows the potential for easing the pain of osteoarthritis. A meta-analysis of studies in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that taking about 1,000 milligrams of curcumin a day reduced pain just as well as commercially available analgesic medicines such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and glucosamine.

Whole grains

One marker of disease in people with RA is C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be detected with a simple blood test, according to Archives of Internal Medicine. Elevated levels indicate inflammation in your body, which exacerbates joint pain. But eating more whole grains, such as 100% whole wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice, and oats, may lower levels of CRP, says the Arthritis Foundation.

Walnuts

A recent study in Advances in Nutrition supports the long-held belief that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid, offers cardioprotective and cognitive benefits, just as fish oil does. One of the reasons for this benefit is ALA's anti-inflammatory effect, which also reduces CRP and inflamed joints in OA and RA patients. One of the best sources of ALA is walnuts.

One study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that analyzed the diets of 5,000 participants in the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that greater nut consumption (including walnuts) was associated with lower amounts of the inflammatory biomarker CRP.  

Olive oil

olive oil
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"Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best fats to include in your diet because it can help manage cholesterol and provides beneficial antioxidants," says Upton. The heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also contains a polyphenol compound called oleocanthal that acts like ibuprofen in alleviating pain, according to a study in the International Journal of Molecular Science.

A word about gout

Gout is a special type of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, and tenderness usually in the joint of the big toe. In gout, joint pain is the result of excess uric acid in the blood, which can be the result of the body producing too much uric acid or when it doesn't get rid of it properly. The body reacts to purines produced by the body or from eating purine-rich foods like beef, chicken, turkey, seafood, and all kinds of alcoholic beverages. "It's impossible to completely avoid purines so people with gout should work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to tailor a diet that's right for them," says Ward.

Could Eating More Protein Reduce Obesity Risk? New Study Suggests It Can

 If you find yourself eating less-than-ideal snacks or packing in the calories later on in the day, then you might not just be craving more food. Your body might actually be in need of protein, according to a new study.

The study that was published in the journal Obesity involved an analysis of data from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, which took place between May 2011 to June 2012. Taking into consideration the dietary and physical habits of 9,341 adults with a mean age of 46.3 years old, scientists from the University of Sydney found that the energy intake of the participants' diets was generally made up of 30.9% fat, 43.5% carbohydrates, 18.4% proteins, 4.3% alcohol, and 2.2% from fiber.

Those behind the study also found that participants who didn't eat as much protein during breakfast (or their first daily meal) ate more during the rest of the day than participants who ate more protein earlier on. High-protein breakfast eaters also ended up eating less as the day went on.

Researchers also discovered that the participants who didn't eat enough protein early in their day ended up eating not only more calories throughout the day, but they also ate more foods that were high in fat, sugar, and salt; consumed more alcohol; and ate less healthy foods like grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, dairy, and meats.

high-protein foods
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The researchers discovered that one of the reasons why study participants did not consume adequate levels of protein was likely due to a high intake of processed foods. This high intake of low-quality processed foods crowds out protein foods that promote satiety, curb overconsumption of caloric, nutrient-poor foods, and reduce obesity risk.

"It's increasingly clear that our bodies eat to satisfy a protein target," said Professor David Raubenheimer, the Leonard Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and one of the authors of the study, in a statement to EurekAlert! "But the problem is that the food in Western diets has increasingly less protein. So, you have to consume more of it to reach your protein target, which effectively elevates your daily energy intake."

Lead author Dr. Amanda Grech, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and the university's School of Life and Environmental Sciences, also noted, "As people consume more junk foods or highly processed and refined foods, they dilute their dietary protein and increase their risk of being overweight and obese, which we know increases the risk of chronic disease."

When Eat This, Not That! spoke to Kylene Bogden, RD, co-Founder of FWDfuelPureboost ambassador, and the nutritionist for the Cleveland Cavaliers, she told us that she wasn't surprised by the results.

"These findings are incredibly accurate," Bogden says. "Many of us consume processed food multiple times a day, day after day, thus leading to chronic inflammation and nutrient deficiencies. When our body is chronically inflamed and we are ridden with deficiencies, we may experience fatigue, strong sugar cravings, and the inability to lose weight."

When it comes to how foods high in protein, fats, and carbohydrates affect your body differently, as well as why the latter two can potentially lead to obesity, Bogden notes that "simply breaking down protein burns the most calories, fat comes in second place, and carbohydrate comes in third." She says that "part of this slower digesting process is also that adequate protein intake is necessary for optimal blood sugar control and stable blood sugar makes weight loss a smoother process."

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Could Eating More Protein Reduce Obesity Risk? New Study Suggests It Can

 If you find yourself eating less-than-ideal snacks or packing in the calories later on in the day, then you might not just be craving more food. Your body might actually be in need of protein, according to a new study.

The study that was published in the journal Obesity involved an analysis of data from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, which took place between May 2011 to June 2012. Taking into consideration the dietary and physical habits of 9,341 adults with a mean age of 46.3 years old, scientists from the University of Sydney found that the energy intake of the participants' diets was generally made up of 30.9% fat, 43.5% carbohydrates, 18.4% proteins, 4.3% alcohol, and 2.2% from fiber.

Those behind the study also found that participants who didn't eat as much protein during breakfast (or their first daily meal) ate more during the rest of the day than participants who ate more protein earlier on. High-protein breakfast eaters also ended up eating less as the day went on.

Researchers also discovered that the participants who didn't eat enough protein early in their day ended up eating not only more calories throughout the day, but they also ate more foods that were high in fat, sugar, and salt; consumed more alcohol; and ate less healthy foods like grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, dairy, and meats.

high-protein foods
Shutterstock

The researchers discovered that one of the reasons why study participants did not consume adequate levels of protein was likely due to a high intake of processed foods. This high intake of low-quality processed foods crowds out protein foods that promote satiety, curb overconsumption of caloric, nutrient-poor foods, and reduce obesity risk.

"It's increasingly clear that our bodies eat to satisfy a protein target," said Professor David Raubenheimer, the Leonard Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and one of the authors of the study, in a statement to EurekAlert! "But the problem is that the food in Western diets has increasingly less protein. So, you have to consume more of it to reach your protein target, which effectively elevates your daily energy intake."

Lead author Dr. Amanda Grech, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and the university's School of Life and Environmental Sciences, also noted, "As people consume more junk foods or highly processed and refined foods, they dilute their dietary protein and increase their risk of being overweight and obese, which we know increases the risk of chronic disease."

When Eat This, Not That! spoke to Kylene Bogden, RD, co-Founder of FWDfuelPureboost ambassador, and the nutritionist for the Cleveland Cavaliers, she told us that she wasn't surprised by the results.

"These findings are incredibly accurate," Bogden says. "Many of us consume processed food multiple times a day, day after day, thus leading to chronic inflammation and nutrient deficiencies. When our body is chronically inflamed and we are ridden with deficiencies, we may experience fatigue, strong sugar cravings, and the inability to lose weight."

When it comes to how foods high in protein, fats, and carbohydrates affect your body differently, as well as why the latter two can potentially lead to obesity, Bogden notes that "simply breaking down protein burns the most calories, fat comes in second place, and carbohydrate comes in third." She says that "part of this slower digesting process is also that adequate protein intake is necessary for optimal blood sugar control and stable blood sugar makes weight loss a smoother process."

5 Health-Boosting Herbs You Can Grow in Your Kitchen

 Dried herbs from your spice rack are nice in a pinch but think about how much cooler it would be to pick fresh herbs right from a sunny windowsill to brighten your meals as they brighten your kitchen. Many of the herbs you rely on regularly can grow like grass indoors with a little lovin'.

Fresh parsley, cilantro, chives, and other herbs contain good amounts of antioxidants and other nutritious compounds that will benefit your health while flavoring your vegetable dishes, soups, and roasts, says registered dietitian Lisa Hugh, DHA, RD, a doctor of health administration with a nutrition practice in Maryland.

Bonus benefit: Growing kitchen herbs may inspire you to dig into gardening in the spring. "Grow something you love to eat; start by planting something easy, like herbs," says "Farmer D" Daron Joffe, a nationally known biodynamic farmer, educator, and author of Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities, and Give Back to the Earth. "Herbs grow virtually any time of year and are low maintenance."

 

1

Basil

fresh basil
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The fragrant star of a Caprese salad or sandwich and the leading lady of pesto, basil, is easy to grow. If you get more than you can use, store it by freezing it; it'll retain its flavor and nutrients.

Basil appears to be good for metabolic disorders and more. Studies suggest that eating basil leaves may help control cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar and strengthen the immune system, according to a report in Nutrition Today.

 

2

Oregano

fresh oregano
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Fresh, peppery oregano leaves are terrific on grilled chicken, fish, and pork, or flicked onto a Greek salad. Toss a whole sprig of oregano into a cast-iron fry pan when cooking chicken thighs; the flavor will infuse the fat and meat.

The component of oregano with the greatest potential health benefit is carvacrol, a natural phenol with antioxidant power. In one Journal of International Medical Research study, a small group of participants was asked to take oregano oil with every meal while following nutrition advice. Those who consumed the oil showed a greater improvement in their cholesterol profiles than those who did not take the oregano.

The herb may also have anticancer properties. While human trials have not been performed, animal studies published in Phytotherapy Research suggest carvacrol in oregano may someday prove useful against breast, liver, and lung carcinomas.

3

Parsley

parsley
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Parsley, the aromatic vegetable favorite of Eastern Europeans and a staple of the Mediterranean diet, is a powerful natural diuretic. As such, it has been shown in studies to be an effective antihypertensive—meaning it can lower your blood pressure by removing water from your bloodstream and widening blood vessels.

Also, the leafy green herb is one of the best sources of vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that's important for blood coagulation and bone regeneration. A recent meta-analysis in the journal Medicine suggests that getting enough vitamin K may protect you against bone fractures. 

4

Rosemary

fresh rosemary
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If you've cooked a rack of lamb, roasted a turkey or root vegetables, or maybe spruced up a classic gin and tonic cocktail with a sprig, you're familiar with the sturdy, woodsy, evergreen-like herb. It's so useful for cooking, you'll want to master growing it in your home.

Fragrant rosemary, which has been used for spiritual and medicinal purposes for centuries, contains good amounts of essential vitamins like A, C, and B-6, and other antioxidants, plus minerals like iron and calcium. An anti-inflammatory, rosemary is believed to be beneficial to the immune and circulatory systems. Its aroma has been shown to stimulate alertness, memory, and cognition, and improve mood.

The key bioactive in rosemary is rosmarinic acid, which is also found in basil, sage, thyme, and peppermint. Scientists in Poland explored the epigenetic effects of rosmarinic acid and found it to be chemoprotective by preventing the blocking of genes that suppress tumors in human breast cancer cells.

5

Thyme

fresh thyme
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Your grandmother's mother probably dabbed thyme oil on her daughter's skinned knees. Thyme has been prized for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties for hundreds of years. In fact, you've most likely used it medicinally without even knowing it if you've gargled with mouthwash or rubbed Vicks VapoRub on your chest during your last bout with the rhinovirus.

Thyme is ideal for braising short ribs and chicken, sautéing or roasting vegetables, and flavoring eggs, pasta, potatoes, and seafood. Thyme's minty, slightly lemony taste brings out the flavors of the foods much the way salt does, which is why the American Heart Association recommends using thyme (and other herbs) as a substitute for salt in cooking to help manage blood pressure. Naturopaths often use tea brewed with thyme as a cough and sore throat remedy due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

While studies have not been done in humans, research in hypertensive rats has shown that thyme significantly reduces blood pressure. Other studies suggest thyme may boost HDL (good) cholesterol while reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Finally, like most herbs, thyme is rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, A, B-6; calcium; iron; magnesium; and manganese, which support a healthy immune system.