Hot Tips in Nutritional News

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April 03, 2017
by Darra McMullen, Women’s Health Network Writer/Researcher
             
A number of interesting developments in nutrition research have been published over the past few months.  The nutrition tips fall into several categories; we will look at three genres.  To make the reporting of some of these top tips easier to read and access, the information is divided into groups by general topic name, such as “digestive health”, “mood and memory”, and “cardiovascular health”.
               
To get as much information to you as succinctly as possible, each tip will be listed as a brief bulleted item beneath its general topic name.

 
Digestive Health:

•  Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin say that their research indicates that snacking on 2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds or drinking 4 oz. of pomegranate juice every day could reduce risk of colon cancer by at least 33%.  The compound ellagic acid helps reduce intestinal inflammation before it can damage colon cells or encourage cancer cell formation.
 
•  In a recent Louisiana State University study, consuming 1/8 tsp. of turmeric daily (added to salads, soups, rice, or other food) can destroy 25% of colon cancer cells within 24 hours.  Turmeric supplements, available at health food and grocery stores, are also effective.
 
•  In the International Journal of Oncology, research suggests the active ingredient in milk thistle, silymarin, helps destroy approximately 25% of any abnormal cells in the colon.  Silymarin is thought to help switch on enzymes that cause precancerous cells to self-destruct.  Milk thistle is available as an herbal supplement or in tea form.  Check health food stores and grocery stores for availability.
   
As always, check with your doctor before beginning an herbal supplement regimen – in case of “contra-indication” with your prescription medicines, personal sensitivities, allergies, etc.
 
•  Recent research elevates the importance of lutein in the diet.  Lutein has already been widely touted for its role in good eye health.  Now, corn and eggs are being hailed for their high levels of lutein, and lutein is being recognized for its role in lessening colon cancer risk by as much as 55%.  The study “dosages” are listed as ½ cup of corn daily or two eggs daily.  If neither food is practical for you on a daily basis, lutein is available also by dietary supplement.
 
•  A focus on intestinal yeast infections has been in the news lately.  Intestinal yeast infections can contribute to (or be the primary cause of) bloating, gassiness, weight gain, chronic tiredness, blue moods, and sugar cravings.
   A pleasant, effective means of reducing intestinal yeast can be as easy as consuming cinnamon and ginger.  According to a study in the journal, Mycopathologia, the natural oils in cinnamon can strengthen and heal the lining of the intestine, making it more resistant to yeast.  As little as ½ tsp. of cinnamon added to foods daily could reduce or rid the body of intestinal yeast infection within about two weeks.

According to the American Journal of Applied Sciences, ginger can inhibit the growth of intestinal yeast as well as the drug, Nystatin.  Ginger tea or a daily 500 mg. - 600 mg. ginger supplement should do the trick for many “garden variety” yeast infections.
 
•  Interestingly, the well-known substance, glucosamine, which has been used for some several years now for joint health, has recently been in the news for its ability to help heal leaky gut syndrome.  The syndrome features a condition wherein tiny perforations in the gut lining allow toxins and undigested proteins to enter the bloodstream, resulting in body-wide inflammation.  Glucosamine helps to seal these tiny holes and alleviate the condition.  Bone broth, available in grocery stores (or can be made at home), is a rich natural source of glucosamine and can be added to the diet easily in soups and even in lattes.  Chinese researchers have recently reported excellent improvement in test subjects after adhering to a glucosamine rich diet for as little as two weeks.
 
Mood and Memory:
 
•  The following foods have recently been linked to improved memory:  dark chocolate, berries, beets, and nuts.
   A Columbia University study showed that a high intake of the flavonols found in chocolate actually reversed age-related memory problems in 60-year-olds, returning subjects’ memories to the functional level of people in their thirties or forties.
   
Rush University Medical Center research indicates that eating a few servings of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries a week can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by about one-third.
   
Oxford and Harvard researchers have recently shown the brain boosting benefits of the common and inexpensive beet, which is rich in B vitamins for overall brain function, and the natural antidepressant, uridine, for a brighter mood.
   
The healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants in nuts are well known for their ability to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, protecting the brain (and heart).  A handful of nuts most days of the week is thought to bring the desired results.
 
•  The nutrient, choline, has been in the news lately.  A study in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition says that a full 94% of women don’t get the recommended 425 mg. of choline per day.  Choline is very important to brain function, and a deficiency leads to memory loss and mood swings, not to mention fatigue and muscle aches.  An excellent source of choline is the common egg (150mgs.).  Two additional foods high in choline are beef and pork, both at 125mg. per 4oz.  Other food sources include edamame, legumes, lentils, chickpeas, milk, and cruciferous vegetables.  Choline is also available in supplement form from health food stores.
 
•  University of Connecticut scientists report that including three cups of leafy greens into the weekly diet can reduce cortisol levels by about one-third in a month’s time.  This is good news because over-production of cortisol is associated with various negative health conditions resulting from stress.  Leafy greens contain a lot of carotenoids that, among other things, help calm the nervous system.
 
•  Interestingly, the ordinary walnut has recently been associated with reducing anxiety.  Penn State research has shown that including 1 ½ cups of walnuts in the diet weekly can deliver enough alpha-linolenic acid to the adrenal glands to discourage them from responding to stress with an outpouring of cortisol.
 
Cardiovascular Health:
 
•  Yale researchers have found that eating two cups (or more) of beans or lentils weekly can lower blood pressure by 10 points in two months time and doubles the body’s ability to control blood sugar.  The fiber in beans and lentils is thought to be the beneficial agent enabling these results.
 
•  Corn oil has made the news lately with its ability to lower LDL and total cholesterol.  Some preliminary studies show it outpacing even olive oil in efficacy.  Corn oil is also a rich source of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids.  Further study of corn oil appears to be worth watching.
 
•  The journal, Clinical Nutrition, reports that a daily cup of black tea, with or without caffeine, can drop LDL cholesterol almost five points within two months.
 
•  Even though the following news tidbit is not one of physical nutrition, it does fall under the category of “food for the heart”.  The February 2017 issue of Good Housekeeping featured a large article on strokes.  According to the article, people over 50 who suffer from long-term depression are known to have double the risk of stroke.  Although the article did not cite a specific source of the statistic, common sense would dictate to us all that any mental illness or life situation which induces chronic stress (as depression certainly would) should be addressed promptly to prevent cardiovascular illness.

The above is not technically a “nutritional tip”, but rather a good-willed admonishment about life – do whatever’s necessary to reduce bad stress.  To that end, let’s look at our final nutritional tip, which will make life at least a little bit happier.
 
•  Indulge in citrus fruits and chocolate!  Several studies from both the U.S. and U.K. have found a significant reduction (19% to 25%) in the risk of stroke from consuming these foods regularly.  Flavonoids and anti-oxidants are thought to be the active ingredients.
 
Go forth and consume wisely and with pleasure! 

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