Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Foods, Know the Good Guys from the Bad Guys

What Your Body Needs   Many people think nothing of eating a double cheeseburger, medium fries and a

medium cola. If you dissect this “meal,” you’ll find that on average, it contains an unbelievable 68 grams of fat (17 teaspoons), almost half of which are saturated; 15 grams of trans fatty acids; 150 mg of cholesterol; 1,200 mg of salt; and 20 teaspoons of sugar (all from the cola)! If you factor in that the fries were probably cooked in hydrogenated cottonseed oil, one of the most heavily pesticide-laden crops in the world, and that the meat, if overcooked, could contain carcinogens, or if undercooked, could result in food poisoning from E. coli, you may agree it’s time to find a new all-American meal.

 The Bad Guys: High levels of saturated fat are consistently linked with elevated blood cholesterol levels, heart disease, insulin resistance and several forms of cancer. Most Americans eat about 40 grams of saturated fat every day, which is twice as much as is considered healthy. Animal products are the greatest source of saturated fats in the Western diet.

For many years, trans fatty acids were considered a relatively minor player in health and disease. Although their impact on total cholesterol is not quite as profound as it is with saturated fats, the overall damage to heart health is worse. Trans fatty acids not only raise total cholesterol, but also lower LDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and potentially increase triglycerides. Gram for gram, the adverse effect of trans fatty acids is estimated to be two to four times greater than that of saturated fatty acids. The most common sources arecrackers, cookies, granola bars, chips and other snack foods, baked goods, margarine, shortening and deep-fried fast foods.

 Cholesterol is made by animals, not plants; all animal foods contain cholesterol, while plant foods are all cholesterol-free. The next time you buy any plant-based food like peanut butter that says “no cholesterol” on the label, realize that is just a sales gimmick. There are several concerns about eating too much cholesterol because it can cause blood cholesterol levels to rise, increasing the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. The recommended daily intake of cholesterol is less than 200 mg, which is a little less than the amount of cholesterol in one egg yolk.

 The Good Guys: Science has known for a very long time that vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds are healthful foods. Researchers assumed that the substances that made these foods so good for us were the vitamins, minerals and fiber. They were right, but only partly. In the past 20 years, scientists have discovered a whole new set of protective compounds packed within every whole-plant food: phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals are natural substances that protect plants against attacks from insects. When we eat plants, these same powerful little protectors go to work on our behalf, with remarkable human health benefits.

  Many phytochemicals are strong antioxidants, neutralizing destructive free radicals. Some phytochemicals provide anticancer support, helping the body rid itself of potent carcinogens. Others protect against cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce the formation of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, decrease blood cholesterol levels, reduce blood clot formation, open blood vessels and decrease damage to blood vessel walls. The list of significant beneficial activities of phytochemicals includes anti-inflammatory, anti-yeast, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and immune-enhancing benefits. Which foods are the most efficient phytochemical factories? Vegetables and fruits stand out as being particularly important, although legumes (beans), grains, nuts and seeds are also excellent sources. Choosing a wide variety of colorful, whole-plant foods is the key to a phytochemical-rich diet.

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Following a healthy diet and lifestyle changes can help Eczema

HOW NUTRITION CAN HELP ECZEMA

There are three main objectives in the treatment of eczema: reducing inflammation, relieving itching of the skin, and moisturizing dry patches. As most alternative health practitioners know, certain dietary practices and various supplements can help to accomplish these objectives in many cases of eczema that seem to be resistant to standard medical treatment. The most evidence-based lifestyle, dietary and supplementation strategies shown to improve cases of eczema are as follows:

Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations: Avoid any known dietary or environmental irritants or allergens. Reduce the build-up of the polyunsaturated fat arachidonic acid within skin cells, as it is the direct building block of inflammatory prostaglandin hormones. To accomplish this, reduce the intake of the following foods: high-fat meat and dairy products; corn oil, sunflower seed oil, safflower seed oil, and mixed vegetable oils; alcohol, hydrogenated fats (e.g., margarine, commercial peanut butter, shortenings).

Replace the above foods with the following: chicken, turkey, fish, Cornish hen, 1 percent milk or yogurt, low-fat cheese (3 percent or less milk fat), olive oil, canola oil, or peanut oil (for salad dressings, to sauté vegetables or stir fry only).

Important Supplements: Omega-3 fats provide the building block for the production of prostaglandin hormones that reduce the inflammatory activity of skin cells. They also reduce the build-up of arachidonic acid in skin cells by blocking the enzyme that converts linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid to arachidonic acid. Examples of omega-3 fats of importance to skin health include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). EPA is found in fish and fish oils, and ALA is found primarily in flaxseed oil. Clinical trials have shown that omega-3 fats can be effective in the treatment of eczema.

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) has also been shown to help in cases of eczema. Studies reveal that many patients with eczema lack the enzyme to convert linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid. As gamma-linolenic acid is the building block of an important anti-inflammatory prostaglandin hormone, supplementation with an oil that is high in gamma-linolenic acid, such as borage, black currant or evening primrose oil, has been shown to favorably affect cases of eczema.

A number of B vitamins (especially B6 and niacin) are necessary co-factors to speed up the enzymes that produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins in the skin. Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and zinc are also required to support various enzymes within skin cells that promote the formation of prostaglandins, which reduce skin inflammatory conditions, including eczema. I recommend a high-potency multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains a B-50 complex along with boosted levels of antioxidants.

In many cases, once specific allergies have been ruled out, the medical profession is at a loss to provide eczema sufferers with any meaningful treatment options. For this subgroup of patients, specific dietary and supplementation practices outlined in this article can provide significant improvement of their condition in many cases. Your doctor can tell you more about the connection between diet and skin health.

 

December 2, 2011 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment