I can't even tell you how many times someone has approached me after a seminar and told me they have diverticulitis, so they need to stay away from all these high fiber foods I just mentioned - but they also need to consume more fiber to help heal their colon...
People with diverticulitis are confused and frustrated, to say the least.
Which is why I say it's good news that a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that nuts, corn, and popcorn, which some have suggested might exacerbate diverticulitis, are not associated with diverticulitis or diverticular complications.
Researchers at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle analyzed the dietary intake among 47,228 men over 18 years and found that nuts and popcorn were actually protective against diverticulitis. Authors concluded that recommendations to avoid these high-fiber, healthful foods should be reconsidered.
So yes, keep eating those nuts, corn and popcorn guys! It is GOOD for you. And remember, because these foods are all rich in the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium which counteract sodium, you don't have to only eat unsalted varieties.
One note on the popcorn: stay away from microwave popcorn that contains partially hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. It only takes a few minutes to cook popcorn on the stove top. I add oil (canola oil) to the bottom of a large pot, add popcorn seeds, and put on high heat until popping begins. Then I just lower the flame and wait until popping slows to turn off the heat. Salt to taste. Yum!
Labels: colon health
Even though I've written quite a bit about soy estrogens on this blog, I know there are some new readers who still have concerns. Rightly so, as there have been some absolutely ridiculous - and paranoia-provoking - articles on soy lately. Since I have written my share already in older posts, I will quote from Dr. Andrew Weil's article, with which I agree entirely:
"I'm aware of Internet paranoia on the subject of soy and the contention that only fermented soy is safe to consume. That is simply not true. Some of the best forms of soy - edamame, tofu and soy nuts - are unfermented and are much more likely to help you than hurt you.
Claims that unfermented soy foods (such as tofu and soy milk) contain toxins that block the action of enzymes needed to digest protein, and that these toxins cause pancreatic enlargement, cancer and stunted growth in animals are misleading. While soy does contain substances (trypsin inhibitors) that may adversely affect the pancreas in animals, there's no solid evidence that they cause similar problems in humans. Furthermore, trypsin inhibitors are found in all of the vegetables of the cabbage family as well as in beans other than soy.
Other concerns about soy safety focus on the following issues:
Breast cancer: Here, the idea is that high levels of isoflavones, active ingredients in soy that behave like estrogen in the body, may increase the risk of breast cancer. While high levels of isolated isoflavones may do so, it appears that the total mix of weak plant estrogens in soy protects the body's estrogen receptors. This protection may reduce the effects of excess estrogen exposure from such external sources as meats and dairy products from hormone-treated cows as well as artificial chemicals and industrial pollutants that act as foreign estrogens. Japanese women whose diets contain a lot of soy foods have only one-fifth the rate of breast cancer that occurs among Western women.
Thyroid Problems: Excess consumption of soy can affect thyroid function, but only if you have a thyroid disorder to begin with or if you're not getting enough iodine in your diet (a rare deficiency in the United States). If you take medication for hypothyroidism (low thyroid), and are concerned about the effect of eating two daily servings of soy, have your thyroid levels checked regularly.
Mineral absorption: The idea that substances in soy called phytates block absorption of essential minerals is also in circulation, but there is no scientific data suggesting that soy consumption leads to mineral deficiency in humans.
(I - Bronwyn - would like to add that almost all vegetables and legumes, such as spinach and beans, contain high levels of phytates. Do we discourage our children from eating these vegetables because they might develop mineral deficiencies? Please.)
All told, based on the evidence to date, I see no reason to worry about eating soy foods, whether fermented or not. I still recommend consuming one to two servings of soy per day, an amount equivalent to one cup of soy milk, or one half cup of tofu, soy protein (tempeh) or soy nuts."
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Labels: soy estrogens
I don't know about you, but I'm concerned about excess estrogen. Estrogen is a growth hormone, or steriod, and high levels of estrogen do wacky things. Excess estrogen is strongly correlated with reproductive cancer, infertility, overproduction of fat cells, and premature menarchy for starters.
I just found this article on www.kitchendoctor.com about what contributes to high estrogen levels:
"To understand the issues, one needs to know where all the estrogen comes from. A great part of it is ingested when consuming animal products where hormones were used to bulk up the animals, make them weigh more or produce more milk for the market. About 75% of all growth hormones found in human bodies are transmitted through ingestion of animal products. Much of the rest is from use of the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy. Thus, the likelihood of women having a serious excess of estrogen-like substances in the body is much greater than for men. This has a destabilizing effect on hormone balance but is less likely to interfere with sexual differentiation (but it could exaggerate the traits associated with the female gender such as the size of breasts and curves.)
Pesticides are another source of xenoestrogens, and petroleum products, including secondary exposure by commuting in heavy traffic, are additional hazards for excessive absorption of substances that mimic natural hormones."
Wow. According to this health practitioner, seventy-five percent of all growth hormones in humans are from animal foods. I'm assuming this is particular to the U.S., where nearly all livestock are routinely treated with hormones.
Also interesting is that pesticides act like estrogen in our bodies, thus the name "xenoestrogens". As a nutritionist, I know how much control we have to choose foods that don't contain pesticides - or hormones. We may not be able to control the air quality or exposure to plastic substances, but we can eat clean foods that do not contribute to our estrogen levels. And that means we can protect our bodies from cancer, obesity, and many other common ailments known to modern society.
Food is medicine. Invest in your body... where else are you going to live?
So this picture is pretty funny... and sad. But what's really strange is another story from my high school reunion. I talked to my old pal Mike, who tells me how when he moved from the U.S. to Germany - where he eats fried meats and bread products - he loses 45 pounds. When I asked him how he thinks this was possible, he says, "Well, they don't feed all the hormones to their livestock like we do".
Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks Mike, for being aware of these things.
Then he tells me how when he moved back he gained all the weight back! So yes, this picture is funny, sad, and oh-so accurate. The European Union won't import our beef for this very reason. We just keep adding more hormones/antibiotics to the feedlots and then we ponder what to do to combat childhood obesity.
Sorry it's been awhile since my last post -- I've been on vacation. First to my 20-year high school reunion and now Santa Barbara. I don't like to write personal info on this blog since my goal is to stay on the topic of nutrition, but I must say I do believe eating healthy pays off when it comes to class reunions. It was crazy how some people aged and others appeared not to have aged at all, and yes, the "less aged looking" were the health freaks.
Another personal nutrition tidbit: I have been invited to speak to a group of dietitians next month, and I couldn't be more excited. I mean, I've heard what some of you have been counseled by these folks, and the information - much like some people attending my 20 year reunion - is really outdated. Some dietitians still preach it's all about calories (vs. fiber), or diabetics should count carbs, or artificial sweeteners are helpful.
So as you can see I'm just shaking in my stirrups to spread the truth at this meeting. I have a feeling there's going to be a LOT of Q & A time.
One thing in particular that you should know about, lest you hear falsely from a well-meaning but not updated dietitian or doctor: The DASH diet is out. This low-fat, lean meat/fruit & veggie diet has been proven to be much less effective in recent years when compared to those that are more plant-based. One very large study called Omniheart (results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 2005) showed people who ate more plant fat from avocados, nuts and olive oil, as well as those consuming more plant protein from beans, nuts and seeds, fared much better in lowering their LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure. The DASH diet isn't all that helpful for most people with heart disease risk. The more the diet is comprised of plant foods high in fiber and healthy fats, the more protection against heart disease.
So just one more thing to share with your friends/family/doctor/dietitian. Isn't it amazing how medical practice is often so obsolete? I guess there's just so much new information to learn about different drugs these days, we don't have time to devote to prevention. But that's why I'm doing this blog I guess. Thanks for reading it.
I've been reading a book lately called - of all things - "Don't Drink Your Milk" (by Frank A. Oski, M.D.) One of the most frightening correlations with milk consumption is Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In the book, Dr. Oski points out the very peculiar geographical distribution of MS since it appears to concentrate in colder, temperate climates and is almost entirely absent near the equator. Dr. Oski cites several studies in the '70's where researchers from the University of Michigan found milk consumption to be the only significant link between MS out of 21 countries around the world (published in the Lancet medical journal).
I know, that's an old study, but that's just when researchers STARTED to see the connection.
Here's an quote from a more recent study (as published in the journal Neuro-Epidemiology, Vol. 11, No. 4-6, 1992).
"We have studied the relationship between MS prevalence and dairy product consumption in 27 countries and 29 populations all over the world, with Spearman's correlation test. A good correlation between liquid cow milk and MS prevalence ( = 0.836) was found; this correlation was highly significant (p < 0.001). A low but still significant correlation was obtained with cream or butter consumption ( = 0.619 and = 0.504, respectively). No correlation was found for cheese. These results suggest that liquid cow milk could contain factor(s) - no longer present in the processed milk - influencing the clinical appearance of MS."
If you remember anything from statistics, a "p-value" of .001 - as was found between milk and MS - is really hard to argue with. It's the gold standard of statisticians.
Since MS is an auto-immune disease where white blood cells attack the myelin sheath of nervous tissue, it's interesting that "One of the proteins in milk mimics a particular protein affiliated with human myelin. This milk protein could easily trigger an autoimmune response to native myelin, triggering an MS episode. Indeed, this immunologic cross-reactivity has been demonstrated in the laboratory in rodents that have MS (Guggenmos J et al 2004; Stefferl A et al 2000).
And if that were'nt enough, The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre says, "There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that milk can make Multiple Sclerosis symptoms worse, cause relapses or the progression of MS."
Now, with all that said, why have so few Americans ever heard this? Why are we told instead to "drink our milk" for healthy bones? Perhaps the Fluid Board (the new alias of the Dairy Council) should run a liability statement to their ads like the drug companies do... "Side-effects of milk consumption include leaky gut, acne, anemia, and auto-immune diseases including Multiple Sclerosis".