May 9 2016

Superfoods

 

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Summer is coming. I can tell and it’s not the weather, it is the arrival of superfoods. Not that they ever went away, but as the weather heats up so does the hype. Every magazine, every second news story, blah, blah, blah, is the new superfood…

First, you can’t live on one food – that would really be a superfood – and second, trying to make up for a multitude of sins by suddenly consuming any one superfood isn’t going to make miracles happen. 

Over and over again the research proves that there is one super diet. A plant based, whole foods diet. It is not that one diet will prevent heart disease and another type 2 diabetes and another Alzheimer’s and cancer.

It is just one diet.

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There are many studies and many personal stories. But if you want the real proof, follow the money. Corporations and health care companies are promoting a plant based whole foods diet to their clients, because it will save them lots of money on health care costs.

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care plan providers in the US tells their doctors “Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or obesity.”

The Complete Health Improvement Program  (CHIP) in Canada showed “rapid and meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors” with a plant based eating pattern.

A study at 10 corporate settings the US insurance company GEICO showed “An 18-week dietary intervention using a low-fat plant-based diet in a corporate setting improves body weight, plasma lipids, and, in individuals with diabetes, glycemic control.”

A study from the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California concluded  “vegetarians have consistently shown to have lower risks for cardiometabolic outcomes and some cancers”

Dr. Dean Ornish, showed a regression of coronary atherosclerosis with intensive lifestyle changes. In fact they found “the primary determinant of change in percent diameter stenosis in the experimental group was neither age nor disease severity but adherence to the recommended changes in diet and lifestyle” His program is covered by Medicare in the United States.

Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr at the Cleveland Clinic showed that 99% of 198 people with cardiovascular disease on a plant based diet avoided another major cardiac event.

And finally, this week a study by the doctor’s at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona that evaluated dietary advice for doctors has concluded that “physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.”  In the 1.5 million people studied all cause mortality is highest for those that consume meat.

It is not just that people eating a plant based, whole foods diet live longer, they cost less in health care dollars. They spend less time in hospital, take fewer medications and weigh less. 

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Every time you choose to eat a whole foods, plant based meal you are contributing to your good health. Lifestyle medicine, is a new way of looking at healthcare. The  focus is on preventing and treating the cause of disease, not simply treating the risk factors. Lifestyle medicine practitioners are asking that patients receive all the options about managing their conditions, including dietary changes. However, preventative medicine is bad for some businesses. It could eliminate the need for medications and surgery. Ask your doctor if prevention is right for you.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

 


Feb 17 2016

Run for your life

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Did you know that February is Cancer Prevention month? Or that half of all cancers can be prevented? Maybe not since the budget for cancer prevention is about 2-3% of the total budget of most cancer agencies. But, high intensity exercise helps!

The American Institute of Cancer Research has 10 recommendations for cancer prevention. These include being as lean as possible and getting 30 minutes of activity everyday, while a new study published Feb 16, 2016 in Cell Metabolism shows that running shrinks tumors. High intensity exercise, in this case running, shrank tumors in mice by 50%.

How? The adrenaline released from high intensity workouts helped cancer killing immune cells move toward the tumors. Study author Pernille Hojman says,

“It is known that infiltration of natural killer (NK) immune cells can control and regulate the size of tumors, but nobody had looked at how exercise regulates the system…our data suggest that it might be beneficial to exercise at a somewhat high intensity in order to provoke a good epinephrine surge and hence recruitment of NK cells.”

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Don’t put off that workout, it could help you prevent cancer.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Jul 20 2015

Statins vs brazil nuts

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Recently researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recommended everyone over the age of 40 take statins, you know, just in case. They declared it would be cost effective to treat 48-67% of all adults 40-75 years old with cholesterol lowering statins… excuse me while I wrap my head around this one.

The researchers go on to justify this by claiming it would be “good value for money spent on healthcare”.

There are so many things that bother me about this. Normally, with the Facts, I send you the info and you decide what you want to do about it, but this is alarming. There are lots of facts about cholesterol and I think we should explore a few of them before we all rush down to get a prescription.

First, I believe that healthcare is what you would do if you wanted to prevent sickness and disease. This sounds like disease management. Disease management without giving people the option of lifestyle change?

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Why would you change your lifestyle if you could just take a pill and not worry about it? Because, statins come with some significant side effects.

Doctors would normally prescribe a statin to reduce your total cholesterol and the risk of heart attack or stroke. That sounds positive, but the side effects include:

  • Muscle pain and muscle damage. This includes muscle pain and fatigue. You may feel soreness and weakness and have difficulty doing regular daily activities. It can also cause rhabdomyolysis, a life threatening condition caused by muscle damage.
  • Liver damage. It could be moderate or severe and warnings signs include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen or dark coloured urine.
  • Digestive problems. People taking statins may develop nausea, gas, diarrhea or constipation.
  • Increased blood sugar and risk of type 2 diabetes. The FDA even has warning labels on statins about monitoring blood glucose levels.
  • Memory loss and confusion. Apparently this is temporary and goes away once you stop taking statins.
  • Rash. Well, that’s not the worst thing.

And guess what, being a woman puts you at a higher risk for having complications from statins. So does drinking alcohol, or having type 1 or type 2 diabetes, being smaller, being over 65, having liver or kidney disease. And we don’t even know why these complications arise…

Something else you should know if you are a woman, taking statins for more than 10 years doubles the risk of invasive breast cancer.

So you could take a statin, or change your lifestyle, yes, that means diet and exercise, or eat four brazil nuts once a month.

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That’s right in a new study – not funded by the brazil nut industry – showed that as little as 4 brazil nuts, eaten only once per month, reduced cholesterol levels by 20 points within nine hours of ingestion. It takes statins four days to have an effect. The best part is that the reduction in cholesterol remained for 30 days after eating four brazil nuts, they tried eight nuts as well, but four seems to be the magic number for best results.

I’m not saying there are not very good reasons to be prescribed statins and for some people this is their only option. However, not as a blanket, cost cutting measure. Most doctors don’t prescribe lifestyle changes because either they don’t think their patients will follow their advice or they simply don’t know what changes they should make.

 Whatever your choice, make informed decisions about your health, taking a pill may not be the easy way.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Apr 13 2015

Never too late to change your health.

Diet can reduce your risk of cancer, even later in life

100 years ago the New York Times reported on a study of 4600 cancer cases, it found that eating less animal foods reduces the risk of cancer. The people in this study reduced their risk even when they changed their diet later in life. We know this works the other way too,  that people who move to North America and to the Standard American Diet (SAD) increase their cancer risk.  For example, Japanese people have a 50% lower risk of cancer than people in the USA until they move to North America.

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The World Health Organization(WHO) reports that all high income countries have double the rate of cancer than low income countries. Stating that the most important risk factors for developing cancer are smoking, unhealthy diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption.

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Recently Angelina Jolie had preventative surgery to reduce her risk of cancer, but for the rest of us, that don’t carry the same risk factors as Angelina, can we prevent cancer with less drastic measures? According to the World Cancer Research Fund proper diet, physical activity and weight loss could prevent 30% of all cancers.

But, what kind of diet works best? Dr Neal Barnard and colleagues show in “Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer”.

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The cancer prevention diet is one that mostly avoids animal products. They show that regularly consuming animal products increases your risk of dying of cancer by four times, for men drinking two glasses of milk per day increases your risk of prostate cancer by 60%. Women that follow a plant based diet reduce their risk of cancer of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer by 34%. Add soy foods, such as tofu, to your diet and you can see comprehensive benefits. Soy foods improve the health of your blood vessels, lower LDL, the bad cholesterol, for men reduces the risk of prostate cancer and for women reduces the risk of breast cancer.

You can never reduce your risk completely, but you can minimize it with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables,  being active and maintaining a healthy weight no matter when you start.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

 

 


Feb 23 2015

Don’t drink that

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 44-58% of people over the age of six drink at least one pop per day. That fact alone might be surprising. The fact that it is not a healthy habit probably is not a surprise. But, what is shocking is that your pop may contain an ingredient that could cause cancer. That’s right,  the byproduct of the caramel colouring in your drink  may be a carcinogen.

Researcher, Keeve Nachman, PhD, senior author of the study and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says,


“Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes.”

Diet or regular dark sodas it doesn’t matter.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Feb 9 2015

Prevention diet

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I read a study about hot peppers, actually the ingredient capsaicin, as a potential weight loss supplement. Now I love hot peppers, I put them in everything – everything that I make for dinner that is – but I don’t think this gives me permission to eat everything. However the study states:

“The temptation to eat fatty foods is often so strong that, for many, it can override or overpower any dietary restrictions. As a solution to this problem, a group of researchers at the University of Wyoming developed a novel approach to stimulate energy metabolism — without the need to restrict calories.”

But, you can already eat a diet that lets you eat as much as you want, without gaining lots of weight and improves your health. It is called a plant based diet. Besides reducing body fat it has a number of other benefits too.

Or you could add hot peppers to everything you eat, which is not so bad for dinner, but maybe not so good for breakfast.

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Spice up your diet with peppers every day to keep obesity away. Credit: Thyagarajan

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Jan 26 2015

Do it together

My partner in healthy change.

My partner in healthy change.

Couples that change together are more successful. If you are trying to make health changes having your partner make similar resolutions increases the chances of your success up to 50%.

Scientists at the University College of London (UCL) researched how successful couples were when attempting to quit smoking, be more active, or lose weight in comparison to those that tried to go it alone. They looked at almost 4,000 couples over the age of 50. Researcher Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK’s Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL, says,

“Unhealthy lifestyles are a leading cause of death from chronic disease worldwide. The key lifestyle risks are smoking, excess weight, physical inactivity, poor diet, and alcohol consumption. Swapping bad habits for good ones can reduce the risk of disease, including cancer.”

Having support and doing it with your partner makes a big difference to your success. And don’t you want your partner to be healthy too?

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Jan 19 2015

It’s never too late

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It is never too late to improve your health. Whether you are thin, heavy, old, young, smoker or nonsmoker, active or inactive you can change your risk of disease especially cancer, heart disease and diabetes by eating a plant based diet. Even if you have been eating meat for decades before switching to a plant based diets.

Studies done as long as 100 years ago show that those people that eat a plant based diets, even if they start later in life, live longer, healthier lives. We also see this in migration studies. When Asians move to North America it takes years of eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) to reverse their health. They have higher rates of prostate, colon and breast cancer once they switch from a traditional diet to one high in animal fats and processed foods.

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Rates of breast and prostate cancer in Japanese women and men after changing from a traditional to Standard American Diet

No matter when you start the results from the largest study ever published on Americans eating plant-based diets that found vegetarian diets associated with lower all-cause mortality, meaning those who started eating vegetarian live, on average, longer lives. 

Want to live a longer, healthier life? Eat less animal protein and fat, eat less processed food, eat more fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. And don’t worry when you start eating better, it can change your health at any age.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Dec 1 2014

1% change

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Keeping your telomeres long keeps you young. What are your telomeres? They are the ends of your DNA. If you think of your DNA being like a shoelace your telomeres are the little plastic ends that keeps them from fraying. Once our telomeres start getting frayed we experience age related diseases, cancer and cell death.

Endurance athletes, marathoners, triathletes,  people that do the equivalent of running 50 miles a week for 35 years have the same length telomeres at 50 that they do at 20. But, what if you haven’t been running 50 miles a week for the past 35 years?

Stress management helps, Buddhist monks have healthy telomeres.  In children, reducing their consumption of  white bread keeps their telomeres long and healthy.  A plant based diet helps and weight loss helps, but what makes the biggest difference?

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Researchers wanted to find out so they took 400 women and assigned them to one of four groups. A control group, a portion control group, an exercise group and a exercise with portion control group.

The exercise group did 45 minutes of regular, vigorous exercise and after a year, no change in their telomeres. The weight loss group had no changes and the exercise with weight loss – nothing.

What makes the biggest difference is diet, specifically saturated fat. Eating 1% less saturated fat gives you one year’s worth of aging on your telomeres. 1% for one year!

Saturated fats are generally toxic to cells and this has been proven in heart cells, pancreatic cells, brain cells and bone marrow cells. The toxic effects happen in quantities that would you see in people that regularly eat animal products. People that eat a low saturated fat, typically plant based diets, have longer telomeres and slower signs of biological aging.

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This 1% change in your diet is pretty easy and is effective even if you haven’t been kind to your telomeres, especially considering the alternative is to be a marathon running Buddhist monk.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla


Oct 20 2014

Genetic mutant

"Coffee and" stop in Twisp, Washington

“Coffee and” stop in Twisp, Washington

Normally in these posts I intentionally don’t include personal information, my reason for the facts is to state the latest research and you can decide what to do with it, but with this one I thought a little personal background was appropriate. If you don’t think so or would prefer to get your facts straight up, without the personal details, let me know, I would love to know what you like best.

Most of the time eating too much sugar will result in weight gain, unless you are a genetic mutant and you can eat all the sweet stuff you want and not gain a pound.

Often I think I could probably eat a little less sugar. If I have been to a town I can tell you where the best bakery is. My husband would, if he could, live on “coffee and…” coffee and cookies, coffee and muffins, coffee and cake, coffee and pie. While I normally prefer to eat real food, when you are riding your bike for hours or hiking, running or all the other things we do in our free time, baked goods are an easy, delicious way to replace calories burned. Not necessarily a nutritious way, but I would rather eat fresh, baked goods than some kind of bar – any kind of bar. The current favourite is our local coffee shop, Beamers’ Granola Bar. Made with peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts it is probably 500 calories packed in a delicious package and guaranteed to fuel a long ride or a big hike. I prefer that over the questionable ingredients of any type,  in any kind of bar you can buy, with an expiry date two years in the future.

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While I do eat more added sugars on a day that I am out for hours being active, I try not to do this on other days. Eventually that would all catch up to me, but apparently some people can eat lots of sugar with no consequences when it comes to their weight.

Genetic mutants or more specifically people with a hyperactive gene called the Nrf2 can eat extremely high levels of sugar without gaining weight. You may know one of these annoying people. Specifically Nrf2 helps our cells repair damage and because we love our sweets, pharmaceutical companies are working on drugs that mimic Nrf2. That sounds great, but Nrf2 is not without it’s own consequences, increased Nrf2 is also linked with aggressive cancers. Be careful what you wish for and eat your sugar in moderation.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

Local ingredients list at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery

Local ingredients list at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery