Archive for the ‘Diet and Nutrition’ Category

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Red Grapes Lower Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

July 2, 2012
Macular Degeneration is the Leading Cause of Blindness in Adults Over 60

Macular Degeneration is the Leading Cause of Blindness in Adults Over 60

Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition, leading to the deterioration of the center of the retina, called the macula. It is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. The result of a study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine finds that eating grapes over a lifetime may slow or help prevent age-related macular degeneration as we age.

Red Grapes Found to Offer Significant Protection against AMD and Blindness

Red Grapes Lower Oxidative Stress to the Retina

Red Grapes Lower Oxidative Stress to the Retina

The antioxidant actions of grapes are believed to be responsible for these protective effects, as they are shown to specifically target the eye to provide a protective shield against repeated assaults perpetrated by exposure to the sun and high-intensity light sources. Silvia Finnemann, principal researcher from Fordham University in New York commented, “A lifelong diet enriched in natural antioxidants, such as those in grapes, appears to be directly beneficial for retinal pigment epithelium cells and retinal health and function.”

The study compared the impact of a diet rich in antioxidants on vision in mice prone to developing retinal damage in old age in much the same way as humans do. Mice either received a grape-enriched diet, a diet with added lutein, or a normal diet. Researchers found that the diet enriched with grapes offered dramatic protection, as it was shown to protect against oxidative damage of the retina and prevent blindness. While a diet supplemented with lutein was also effective, grapes were found to offer significantly more protection.

Red Grapes Lower Retinal Oxidative Stress to Improve Eye Health

Lifelong Consumption of Red Grapes Lowers Risk of AMD

Lifelong Consumption of Red Grapes Lowers Risk of AMD

Dr. Finnemann noted “The protective effect of the grapes in this study was remarkable, offering a benefit for vision at old age even if grapes were consumed only at young age.” The result of this study determined that age-related vision loss is a result of cumulative, oxidative damage over time. A diet rich in antioxidants, especially those provided by lifelong consumption of red grapes are directly beneficial to retinal health and function.

This study showed that adding grapes to the diet prevented blindness in mice by significantly decreasing the build-up of lipofuscin and preventing the oxidative damage to the retina. Red grapes contain the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol that has been demonstrated to provide essential support for optimal brain function and heart health. Consuming several ounces of red grapes each day may provide an important key to prevent eye damage and blindness from AMD.

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Dietary Nutrients Influence DNA Telomere Length and Aging

May 21, 2012
Telomere Length Determines Cellular Aging

Telomere Length Determines Cellular Aging

Many factors are known to contribute to human lifespan. Many natural health followers carefully control their diet to include organic choices of fruits and vegetables in their natural, uncooked state, while remaining physically active and maintaining body weight within a healthy range. The science of how lifestyle habits and nutrition promote health and longevity, known as Epigenetics, has dramatically advanced our knowledge base by providing a solid understanding of telomeres, the tiny strands of DNA akin to a zipper that shorten with poor dietary choices, inflammation and everyday stress.

Researchers reporting in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry show that reducing oxidative stress, cellular inflammation and improving DNA methylation pathways can extend telomere length and slow the biologic aging clock. Specific nutrients provide the necessary building blocks to support DNA health and extend your natural lifespan.

Targeted Nutrients and Foods Increase DNA Methylation to Maintain Telomere Length

Foods Provide Essential Nutrients to Help Extend Telomere Length

Foods Provide Essential Nutrients to Help Extend Telomere Length

Genetic expression is not set in stone, and our genes are continually under the influence of our environment, lifestyle and dietary choices. Gene settings are made initially from our time in the womb, based largely on the nutritional status and lifestyle of the mother. As we age, our genes instantly read micronutrient and environmental cues in an effort to ensure short term survival. Every morsel of food energy we consume results in an alteration in gene expression, either promoting optimal health or eventual illness.

The methylation pathway is critical to maintain DNA integrity and prevent telomere shortening. Foods and nutrients that donate methyl groups are essential to prevent genetic mutations that result in cancer. Researchers reporting in The Journal of Nutrition found that men with the highest levels of folate in their blood have the longest telomeres when compared to those with the lowest levels. In addition to folate (800 mcg each day), vitamin B12 (500 to 1000 mcg daily) and the entire B-vitamin family are associated with longer telomeres. Sulfur-enriched proteins from nuts and seeds are also important methyl group donors.

Zinc and Magnesium Essential to DNA Health and Anti-Aging Effects

Many Nuts Provide Zinc and Magnesium, Critical to Maintain Telomere Integrity

Many Nuts Provide Zinc and Magnesium, Critical to Maintain Telomere Integrity

Independent research projects have concluded that the minerals zinc (25 to 50 mg per day) and magnesium (400 to 800 mg each day) are necessary to accurately complete DNA sequencing during cell replication. A lack of these cofactors leads to DNA strand breakage, premature cell destruction and acceleration of the aging process. Vitamin C (1 to 3 grams per day) has been shown to slow the loss of telomeres in human vascular endothelial cells, an important element in preventing cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E tocotrienols (400 mg per day of a full-spectrum supplement) have been shown to restore the length of telomeres while reducing DNA damage, making it possible for a nutrient to reverse the shortening of telomeres and reverse an underlying cause of aging.

Stress and inflammation are two controllable factors that independently shorten telomere length and increase cell aging. Stress management is essential to lower the release of chemical messengers that fuel the flames of inflammation. Additionally, researchers have identified a host of polyphenol compounds (resveratrol, grape seed extract and curcumin) that lower systemic inflammation, help to maintain telomere length and extend healthy lifespan.

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Vegetables Shown to Enhance Gene Expression to Lower Disease Risk

February 6, 2012
A Diet Packed with Fresh Vegetables lowers Chronic Disease Risk

A Diet Packed with Fresh Vegetables lowers Chronic Disease Risk

The Chinese have known for countless generations that the food we eat directly controls our health. Ancient Greeks postulated that food should be considered a medicine, as powerful as any healing method or concoction available during that time period. Until quite recently, western intelligence was dismally unaware that the quality of our diet is immediately reflected in the chronic diseases we manifest and quality of life as well.

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities have published a new body of research in the journal PLoS Medicine to demonstrate the potent effect of a diet filled with fresh greens and fruits on our genetic expression. Scientists confirm that eating the proper diet holds the key to cardiovascular health for millions of at-risk individuals.

Genetic Predisposition to Heart Disease Blunted by Plenty of Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables Lower Heart Disease Risk in Predisposed Individuals

Vegetables Lower Heart Disease Risk in Predisposed Individuals

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in western civilizations, so the news of an inexpensive and natural lifestyle change to prevent heart disease should make international headlines. Most otherwise enlightened people will never hear about the result of this research and continue to eat a nutritionally defunct diet that promotes cardiovascular disease and an early death. Simple changes in macronutrient consumption are now shown to pay significant benefits to human health with no side effects other than increased lifespan.

Researchers conducting one of the largest gene-diet interaction studies on cardiovascular disease analyzed a cohort of more than 27,000 individuals across multiple ethnicities. Dr. Jamie Engert, joint principal investigator of the study from McGill University explained “We know that 9p21 genetic variants increase the risk of heart disease for those that carry it”, echoing the result of a past discovery showing that the gene is a strong marker for heart disease and can actually be modified by generous amounts of fruit and raw vegetables from dietary sources.

Vegetables Stimulate Chemical Messengers to Alter Genetic Expression to Lower Chronic Disease Risk

Vegetable Consumption Influences Gene Expression to Prevent Disease

Vegetable Consumption Influences Gene Expression to Prevent Disease

After an analysis of the effect of diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers determined that individuals with the high risk genotype who consumed a prudent diet, composed mainly of raw vegetables, fruits and berries, had a similar risk of heart attack to those with the low risk genotype. Lead author of the study Dr. Ron Do noted “Our research suggests there may be an important interplay between genes and diet in cardiovascular disease.”

Forward-thinking practitioners have known for more than a quarter century that diet and heart disease are closely linked, although the focus was inadvertently placed on dietary fat avoidance. Researchers have confirmed that many fats eaten in their natural, cold-pressed form are essential for vibrant health.

Evidence continues to mount confirming the profound health benefits of vegetables and fruits eaten at the peak of freshness. The authors of this important work conclude “The risk of MI (myocardial infarction) and CVD (cardiovascular disease) conferred by Chromosome 9p21 SNPs appears to be modified by a prudent diet high in raw vegetables and fruits.” Be sure to include ten or more servings of greens each day to dramatically cut heart disease risk.

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Health Promoting Benefits of Fresh Leafy Green Vegetables Uncovered

February 1, 2012
Researchers Find That Fresh Leafy Greens Boost immune Cell Function

Researchers Find That Fresh Leafy Greens Boost immune Cell Function

We all know that our immune system is the first line of defense against a wide array of potentially deadly pathogens, bacteria and viruses. Yet many people take this crucial defense barrier for granted and do little to ensure that they are adequately protected against a multitude of microscopic invaders.

Researchers publishing the result of a research body performed at the University of Cambridge in the journal Cell demonstrate that compounds found in green vegetables, from bok choy to broccoli are the source of a chemical signal that is important to activate a fully functioning immune system. Help protect yourself and your family from maladies ranging from the common cold, influenza to autoimmune diseases and certain cancers by including healthy portions of green vegetables in your daily diet.

Include Ten or More Fresh Vegetable Servings Daily to Boost Immune Health

Ten or More Daily Servings Required to Maximize Disease-Fighting Effect of Veggies

Ten or More Daily Servings Required to Maximize Disease-Fighting Effect of Veggies

Prior research indicated the breakdown of cruciferous vegetables can yield a compound that can be converted into a molecule that triggers the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) on cell wall surfaces. Further reports found AhR’s can be regulated by dietary ingredients found primarily in vegetables including broccoli, kale, spinach and many varieties of leafy greens. This action ensures that immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) function properly.

Researchers fed otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for several weeks were amazed to find that 70 to 80 percent of these protective IEL cells disappeared during this short period. Dr. Marc Veldhoen, lead study author noted that, “protective IELs exist as a network beneath the barrier of epithelial cells covering inner and outer body surfaces, where they are important as a first line of defense and in wound repair.” It was determined the number of IEL cells can be regulated by dietary ingredients found primarily in cruciferous vegetables.

A Diet High in Sugar and Processed Carbohydrates Lowers System Immune Response

Sugary Foods Negate the Health Benefits of Vegetable Consumption By Deactivating Immune Response

Sugary Foods Negate the Health Benefits of Vegetable Consumption By Deactivating Immune Response

Poor dietary intake consisting mostly of hydrogenated and oxidized fats, sugar and processed foods directly alters the surface receptors of cells lining the digestive tract, responsible for more than 80 percent of our immune response. Researchers commented “individuals fed a synthetic diet lacking this key compound experience a significant reduction in AhR activity and lose IELs. With reduced numbers of these key immune cells, individuals showed lower levels of antimicrobial proteins, heightened immune activation and greater susceptibility to injury.”

Dr. Veldhoen concluded “it’s already a good idea to eat your greens… the results offer a molecular basis for the importance of cruciferous vegetable-derived phyto-nutrients as part of a healthy diet.” The current recommendation to eat 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and fruit each day is anemic and insufficient in the light of this important study. Health-minded people will want to include fresh, raw greens at the core of their diet and include 10 or more generous servings each day to boost immune health.

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Broccoli and Crucifer Family Help Lower Colon Cancer Risk

December 21, 2011
Researchers Find Fruits and Vegetables Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Researchers Find Fruits and Vegetables Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Health-minded individuals are well aware that a diet high in natural fruits and vegetables equate to vibrant health and dramatically lowered risk of many chronic diseases. The result of a new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association provides details on how specific fruit and vegetable consumption lowers the incidence of many types of colon cancer, the third most prevalent form of the disease.

Foods such as apples, broccoli and cauliflower each lower the risk of cancer initiation in different parts of the colon while high sugar, fiber-void fruit juices are shown to increase risk of the illness. Nutrition scientists from Australia provide important documentation to confirm the importance of eating a colorful selection of fruits and vegetables to lower colon cancer risk.

Diet Packed With Vegetables and Fruits Shown to Lower Multiple Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Different Vegetable Families Lower Individual Colon Cancer Risk

Different Vegetable Families Lower Individual Colon Cancer Risk

Nutrition researchers have designed studies to examine the effect of healthy diet on colon cancer risk in the past, but the protective effect has been debatable as they do not provide specific results for different foods on the key regions or subsites of the colon. Professor Lin Fritschi, PhD, head of the Epidemiology Group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and her research team set out to investigate the link between fruit and vegetables and three cancers in different parts of the bowel: proximal colon cancer, distal colon cancer and rectal cancer.

The controlled study included 918 participants with a confirmed colon cancer diagnosis and compared them with 1021 individuals with no history of the digestive disease. All participants completed extensive nutritional and demographic questionnaires to account for potential conflicts such as socioeconomic status. Analysis of the data showed that specific fruit and vegetables from similar varietal families affect risk for colon cancer in different portions of the digestive tract.

Broccoli, Cabbage and Sprouts Lower Most Common Type of Colon Cancer

Broccoli and Brassica Vegetables Lower Risk of Most Common Type of Colon Cancer

Broccoli and Brassica Vegetables Lower Risk of Most Common Type of Colon Cancer

With respect to different fruit and vegetable consumption, the researchers found a reduced rate of proximal colon cancer was linked to eating brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. In addition, both total vegetable intake and total vegetable and fruit intake were linked to a lower risk of distal colon cancer. And finally a significant reduction in distal colon cancer risk was linked to dark yellow vegetables and apples.

There should be no doubt that natural fruits and vegetables consumed raw or minimally cooked to retain the active enzymes is a critical factor in digestive health to dramatically lower the risk of colon cancer and other chronic conditions as well. This study conveys the important nature of eating a wide variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, high in phytonutrient content to provide a protective shield at different colon subsites and throughout the body.

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Zinc is Critical to Forming and Retaining Memories and Cognition

December 15, 2011
Zinc is Associated with Improved Memory Retention and Cognition

Zinc is Associated with Improved Memory Retention and Cognition

Zinc is an essential mineral known to improve skin tone, aid wound healing, fight cancer and shorten the length of the common cold. Researchers publishing in the journal Neuron now identify the crucial role this super-nutrient plays in support of memory formation and cognitive stability. Additionally, they have found that zinc may also play a part in controlling the devastating occurrence of epileptic seizures.

For the first time, scientists have been able to watch zinc in action as the nutrient regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus to improve memory and learning capabilities. Ensuring proper intake of zinc is an important step toward optimal brain function and may prevent cognitive decline as we age.

Zinc Improves Communication between Neurons to Improve Cognition

Zinc Improves Communications Between Neurons to Boost Memory

Zinc Improves Communications Between Neurons to Boost Memory

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collaborated to study the effects of zinc on brain function. Scientists experimenting with mice used a chemical that binds with zinc to eliminate it from the brain of the test animals. They found that in the absence of the mineral, communications between neurons was significantly diminished and that zinc is vital for controlling the efficiency between nerve cells in the hippocampus.

For more than a half century, scientists have understood that high concentrations of zinc are deposited within nerve cells, called vesicles that package the transmitters which enable nerve cells to communicate. The highest concentrations of brain zinc are found among the neurons of the hippocampus that control the high functions of learning and memory.

Researchers Find Zinc Levels in the Brain Control Memory and Learning Functions

Zinc is Essential to Improve Synaptic Plasticity and Learning Abilities

Zinc is Essential to Improve Synaptic Plasticity and Learning Abilities

By artificially regulating the level of zinc in the brain of the test animals, researchers were able to confirm that eliminating zinc from the neural vesicles also prevented enhanced communication. By increasing levels of the mineral, they were able to significantly restore enhanced communications in the hippocampal region to improve learning and memory capabilities.

The results of this study conducted using mice can be extrapolated to humans because zinc is known to play a similar role in the brain of both species. Zinc deficiency in the typical western diet is rapidly becoming a serious problem that threatens human health. Due to poor farming practices and the abundance of nutrient-deprived processed foods, many children and adults suffer from a chronic insufficiency of the mineral.

Over time, lack of zinc from dietary sources can result in immune system depression, decline in sexual health and increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Ideal dietary sources of zinc include liver, beef and lamb. Vegetarians can include nuts, seeds and peas to obtain the micronutrient. Alternatively, zinc supplements are available (30 to 50 mg per day) to help maintain healthy systemic levels that improve memory, learning and cognition.

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Limiting Fructose is Key to Weight Loss, Cancer Prevention

November 21, 2010

The link between fructose consumption and many forms of cancer are quite evident, as this form of sugar derived from fruit provides fuel to cancer cells, causing them to divide and proliferate. Fructose is an inexpensive sweetener used in many processed foods and drinks, and is most frequently found in its super-charged form, high fructose corn syrup. You can dramatically lower your risk for developing many of the most deadly types of cancer as you naturally lose weight by diligently reading nutrition labels to eliminate fructose from your diet.

Fructose Promotes Cancer Proliferation
For some time, medical researchers have known that sugar in the form of glucose is the main energy source which cancer cells use to initiate. Information published in the journal Cancer Research shows that cancer cells use glucose and fructose in different ways to fuel growth, and fructose specifically provides the mechanism which leads to cellular accelerated proliferation and metastasis. They conclude that restricting both glucose and especially fructose are essential to cancer prevention and controlling existing disease.
Metabolic Syndrome and Excess Weight Blamed on High Fructose Diet

It’s no secret that waistlines have been expanding at disproportionate rates over the past half century, and volumes of scientific evidence now point to the primary suspect in this epidemic, fructose. Our body metabolizes fructose differently than glucose, and doesn’t trigger the same insulin response compared with sugar or simple carbohydrates.

Our appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin are thrown off balance and don’t register fructose calories as energy consumed, meaning we’re much more inclined to keep eating. As this process continues over the course of many years, it leads to insulin resistance, metabolic disorder and contributes to the rising rates of obesity experienced by many unsuspecting people.
Fructose Consumption Increased Five-Fold over the Past 100 Years
A century ago, the average daily consumption of fructose was around 15 grams, a far cry from the typical 73 gram dose we receive today. More importantly, the small amount eaten by our ancestors was largely from fruit, where the fructose is bound to fiber and isn’t released to the bloodstream as quickly. By contrast, today we consume mostly high fructose corn syrup which has been artificially produced in a laboratory, and exerts a much higher degree of metabolic dysfunction in this ultra concentrated form.
Reduce Fructose to Avoid Cancer, Assist Weight Loss

Food manufacturers have been using high fructose corn syrup in ever increasing quantities as an inexpensive sweetener for the past 40 years, with obesity levels and fructose sensitive cancers increasing in linear proportion. The only way to purge this unnatural poison from your food supply is to carefully read every nutrition label for the presence of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and the newly coined marketing term, corn sugar. Avoid any sweetened soft drinks and especially fruit juices, as well as all processed or prepared foods. You’ll find fructose in one of its many forms in virtually every type of food which has been manufactured for mass consumption.

Excess dietary fructose has been shown to contribute to metabolic dysfunction, increased abdominal fat storage and the proliferation of many forms of deadly cancers. Individuals who know they are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic or have been diagnosed with cancer should drastically limit fruit intake and eliminate high fructose corn syrup entirely. Health conscious individuals will want to carefully monitor the amount of fructose they eat to avoid the significant health concerns attributable to this simple fruit sugar.