Monthly Archives: September 2015
Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing tree native to South Asia and now found throughout the tropics. Its leaves have been used as part of traditional medicine for centuries, and the Ayurvedic system of medicine associates it with the cure or prevention of about 300 diseases.
Moringa, sometimes described as the “miracle tree,” “drumstick tree,” or “horseradish tree,” has small, rounded leaves that are packed with an incredible amount of nutrition: protein, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, you name it, moringa’s got it. No wonder it’s been used medicinally (and as a food source) for at least 4,000 years.
The fact that moringa grows rapidly and easily makes it especially appealing for impoverished areas, and it’s been used successfully for boosting nutritional intake in Malawi, Senegal, and India. In these areas, moringa may be the most nutritious food locally available, and it can be harvested year-round.
Personally, I grew a moringa tree for two years and I can attest to the fact that it grows like a weed. For those living in third-world countries, it may very well prove to be a valuable source of nutrition.
However I don’t recommend planting one in your backyard for health purposes as the leaves are very small and it is a timely and exceedingly tedious task to harvest the leaves from the stem to eat them.
The leaves are tiny and difficult to harvest and use, so you’ll likely find, as I did, that growing one is more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, there is no denying that moringa offers an impressive nutritional profile that makes it appealing once it is harvested…
6 Reasons Why Moringa Is Being Hailed as a Superfood
- A Rich Nutritional Profile
Moringa leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and more. One hundred grams of dry moringa leaf contains:
- 9 times the protein of yogurt
- 10 times the vitamin A of carrots
- 15 times the potassium of bananas
- 17 times the calcium of milk
- 12 times the vitamin C of oranges
- 25 times the iron of spinach
- Antioxidants Galore
Moringa leaves are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid. The latter, chlorogenic acid, has been shown to slow cells’ absorption of sugar and animal studies have found it to lower blood sugar levels. As noted in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention:
“The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree have been reported to demonstrate antioxidant activity due to its high amount of polyphenols.
Moringa oleifera extracts of both mature and tender leaves exhibit strong antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to major biomolecules, and give significant protection against oxidative damage.”
Further, in a study of women taking 1.5 teaspoons of moringa leaf powder daily for three months, blood levels of antioxidants increased significantly.
- Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Moringa appears to have anti-diabetic effects,7 likely due to beneficial plant compounds contained in the leaves, including isothiocyanates. One study found women who took seven grams of moringa leaf powder daily for three months reduced their fasting blood sugar levels by 13.5 percent.
Separate research revealed that adding 50 grams of moringa leaves to a meal reduced the rise in blood sugar by 21 percent among diabetic patients.
- Reduce Inflammation
The isothiocyanates, flavonoids, and phenolic acids in moringa leaves, pods, and seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties. According to the Epoch Times:
“The tree’s strong anti-inflammatory action is traditionally used to treat stomach ulcers. Moringa oil (sometimes called Ben oil) has been shown to protect the liver from chronic inflammation. The oil is unique in that, unlike most vegetable oils, moringa resists rancidity.
This quality makes it a good preservative for foods that can spoil quickly. This sweet oil is used for both frying or in a salad dressing. It is also used topically to treat antifungal problems, arthritis, and is an excellent skin moisturizer.”
- Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Moringa also has cholesterol-lowering properties, and one animal study found its effects were comparable to those of the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin. As noted in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology:
“Moringa oleifera is used in Thai traditional medicine as cardiotonic. Recent studies demonstrated its hypocholesterolemic effect.
… In hypercholesterol-fed rabbits, at 12 weeks of treatment, it significantly (P<0.05) lowered the cholesterol levels and reduced the atherosclerotic plaque formation to about 50 and 86%, respectively. These effects were at degrees comparable to those of simvastatin.
… The results indicate that this plant possesses antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, and antiatherosclerotic activities, and has therapeutic potential for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.”
- Protect Against Arsenic Toxicity
The leaves and seeds of moringa may protect against some of the effects of arsenic toxicity, which is especially important in light of news that common staple foods, such as rice, may be contaminated. Contamination of ground water by arsenic has also become a cause of global public health concern, and one study revealed:
“Co-administration of M. oleifera [moringa] seed powder (250 and 500 mg/kg, orally) with arsenic significantly increased the activities of SOD [superoxide dismutase], catalase, and GPx with elevation in reduced GSH level in tissues (liver, kidney, and brain).
These changes were accompanied by approximately 57%, 64%, and 17% decrease in blood ROS [reactive oxygen species], liver metallothionein (MT), and lipid peroxidation respectively in animal co-administered with M. oleifera and arsenic.
Another interesting observation has been the reduced uptake of arsenic in soft tissues (55% in blood, 65% in liver, 54% in kidneys, and 34% in brain) following administration of M. oleifera seed powder (particularly at the dose of 500 mg/kg).
It can thus be concluded from the present study that concomitant administration of M. oleifera seed powder with arsenic could significantly protect animals from oxidative stress and in reducing tissue arsenic concentration. Administration of M. oleifera seed powder thus could also be beneficial during chelation therapy…”
Moringa Leaves May Even Purify Water… and More
From a digestive standpoint, moringa is high in fiber that, as the Epoch Times put it, “works like a mop in your intestines… to clean up any of that extra grunge left over from a greasy diet.” Also noteworthy are its isothiocyanates, which have anti-bacterial properties that may help to rid your body of H. pylori, a bacteria implicated in gastritis, ulcers, and gastric cancer. Moringa seeds have even been found to work better for water purification than many of the conventional synthetic materials in use today.
“A protein in the seeds binds to impurities causing them to aggregate so that the clusters can be separated from the water. The study… published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces A takes a step towards optimization of the water purification process.
Researchers in Uppsala together with colleagues from Lund as well as Namibia, Botswana, France, and the USA have studied the microscopic structure of aggregates formed with the protein.
The results show that the clusters of material (flocs) that are produced with the protein are much more tightly packed than those formed with conventional flocculating agents. This is better for water purification as such flocs are more easily separated.”
There is speculation that moringa’s ability to attach itself to harmful materials may also happen in the body, making moringa a potential detoxification tool.
How to Use Moringa
If you have access to a moringa tree, you can use the fresh leaves in your meals; they have a flavor similar to a radish. Toss them like a salad, blend them into smoothies, or steam them like spinach. Another option is to use moringa powder, either in supplement form or added to smoothies, soups, and other foods for extra nutrition. Moringa powder has a distinctive “green” flavor, so you may want to start out slowly when adding it to your meals.
You can also use organic, cold-pressed moringa oil (or ben oil), although it’s expensive (about 15 times more than olive oil.As mentioned, while I don’t necessarily recommend planting a moringa tree in your backyard (a rapid-growing tree can grow to 15 to 30 feet in just a few years), you may want to give the leaves or powder a try if you come across some at your local health food market. As reported by Fox News, this is one plant food that displays not just one or two but numerous potential healing powers:
“Virtually all parts of the plant are used to treat inflammation, infectious disorders, and various problems of the cardiovascular and digestive organs, while improving liver function and enhancing milk flow in nursing mothers. The uses of moringa are well documented in both the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of traditional medicine, among the most ancient healing systems in the world.
Moringa is rich in a variety of health-enhancing compounds, including moringine, moringinine, the potent antioxidants quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and various polyphenols. The leaves seem to be getting the most market attention, notably for their use in reducing high blood pressure, eliminating water weight, and lowering cholesterol.
Studies show that moringa leaves possess anti-tumor and anti-cancer activities, due in part to a compound called niaziminin. Preliminary experimentation also shows activity against the Epstein-Barr virus. Compounds in the leaf appear to help regulate thyroid function, especially in cases of over-active thyroid. Further research points to anti-viral activity in cases of Herpes simplex 1.”
Health and Wellness Associates
Sitting Takes a Profound Toll on Your Health
More than 10,000 studies now show that prolonged sitting is devastating to your health. It actively and independently promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, even if you exercise several times a week and are very fit. The sad truth is, you cannot offset 8 to 10 hours of stillness with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, even if you exercise every single day.
The reason for this is because, at the molecular level, the human body was designed to be active all day long. When you stop moving and sit still for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body to shut down and prepare for death. As soon as you stand up, a number of molecular cascades occur that promote and support healthy biological functioning.
For example, within 90 seconds of standing up, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol — which are mediated by insulin — are activated. Surprising as it may sound, all of these molecular effects are activated simply by carrying your bodyweight upon your legs. These cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuels into your cells and, if done regularly, will radically decrease your risk of diabetes and obesity.
So, the remedy is simple: Avoid sitting and get more movement into your life. Ideally, aim to sit less than three hours a day. Also consider walking more, in addition to your exercise regimen. In short, rest is supposed to break up activity — not the other way around. This kind of non-exercise physical movement appears to be really foundational for optimal health, and if you’re currently inactive, this is the place to start, even before you get going on a workout routine.
Health and Wellness Associates
A Serious Life-Threatening Obstruction for Predisposed Male Dogs
Dogs, like cats and humans, can develop a variety of types of stones in their bladder and kidneys. Bladder stones, also called uroliths, are small rock-like structures that form from minerals in urine. They are more common than kidney stones in dogs, and there may be one large stone, or a collection of stones ranging in size from grains of sand to gravel.
One of the most common types of uroliths in dogs is made up of calcium oxalate (CaOx) crystals. Over the past 15 years, the incidence of oxalate stones in dogs has increased significantly, while cases of struvite stones, which are caused by an infection and exacerbated by an alkaline diet, have decreased.
About three-quarters of dogs diagnosed with this type of stone are males between the ages of 5 and 12. Breeds at highest risk include the Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, miniature Poodle, miniature Schnauzer, and Yorkshire Terrier.
How Do Dogs Get Calcium Oxalate Stones?
As with humans, there is a strong genetic component to the formation of oxalate bladder stones in dogs. A substance called nephrocalcin in urine naturally prevents formation of the stones, but in both people and dogs who develop stones, the nephrocalcin is defective. Production of defective nephrocalcin may be inherited.
Metabolic diseases that may predispose a dog to develop stones include Cushing’s disease and hypercalcemia, which is an elevated blood calcium level.
A urine pH below 6 can also promote development of calcium oxalate stones.
CaOx Stones Are Painful and Potentially Dangerous
The danger for a dog, especially a male dog with bladder stones is that they can obstruct the urinary opening, which can cause life-threatening uremic poisoning. If you notice that your dog isn’t passing urine, you should bring him immediately to your veterinarian or the closest emergency animal hospital.
Your veterinarian will try to dislodge the stone by flushing it back into the bladder, which if successful will also clear the urinary opening. If the stone can’t be dislodged, the doctor may need to create a new urinary opening. The urethra, a slender tube that carries urine out of the bladder during urination, is difficult to perform surgery on, so your veterinarian would prefer to flush the stone back into the bladder for removal vs. attempting to remove it from the urethra.
Calcium oxalate stones cause pain because they irritate the tender lining of a dog’s bladder. This usually causes bleeding, and also increases the likelihood of chronic bladder infections.
Calcium oxalate stones can’t be dissolved with a dietary change, so surgical removal is usually necessary. Unfortunately, about half of dogs who undergo surgery develop new calcium oxalate stones within three years.
Differentiating Calcium Oxalate Stones from Other Types of Bladder Stones
The only way to know definitively that a bladder stone is a calcium oxalate stone is to actually retrieve it and send it to a laboratory for analysis. Removing the stone often requires forcefully expressing it or surgically opening the bladder to remove it, neither of which is ideal for purposes of a diagnosis.
Sometimes a veterinarian can actually feel (palpate) a stone if the bladder isn’t too painful and the dog is relatively relaxed. Unfortunately, some stones are too small to be palpated.
Stones are frequently diagnosed through an x-ray or ultrasound of the bladder. However, these tests only identify the presence of a stone, not the composition of it.
Your veterinarian may be able to make an educated guess about the type of stone in your dog’s bladder based on imaging and urinalysis results. For example, if your pet’s x-rays show one or more stones in the bladder, and the urinalysis indicates acidic urine and calcium oxalate crystals, your vet may make a reasonable diagnosis of calcium oxalate bladder stones and proceed accordingly.
CaOx Bladder Stone Prevention Strategies
A crucially important strategy in preventing CaOx stones in predisposed dogs is a diet that promotes less acidic, more dilute urine with a low urine specific gravity (less than 1.020). This means intentionally creating less concentrated urine by adding more moisture to your dog’s diet.
Insuring your dog is drinking plenty of clean, fresh water is a primary prevention strategy. You might want to consider providing a water fountain with continuously filtered, fresh, and running water to encourage your dog to drink, along with placing bowls of fresh water in multiple locations around the house. You can also add meat broths or low-sodium bouillon or stock to the water or food to entice your pet to consume more water. Avoiding kibble (with a low moisture content of 10 to 12 percent) and choosing canned, raw, or fresh food diets with more moisture is also beneficial.
In some cases, medications such as potassium citrate may be needed to increase the urinary pH. Adding alkalizing fruits and veggies to the diet can also keep urine pH in a neutral range (7).
Vitamin B6 increases metabolism of glyoxylate, a precursor of oxalic acid, and may be of benefit. Check with your holistic vet about the right dose of supplemental B6 for your dog.
Dogs prone to calcium oxalate stones should not be given calcium supplements or high oxalate foods such as nuts, rhubarb, beets, green beans, and spinach. More information about the oxalate content of foods can be found here.
Most conventional veterinarians recommend a lifelong commercial therapeutic diet for dogs with CaOx stones. My strong preference is an appropriate home-cooked diet, which you can create with guidance from a veterinary nutritionist at Balance IT or another similar resource.
Herbs that may benefit bladder stones include chanca piedra, alfalfa, dandelion, goldenseal, horsetail, marshmallow, plantain, Oregon grape, uva ursi, yarrow, maitake mushrooms, corn silk powder, and olive leaf.
Regular Monitoring Is Very Important for Stone-Prone Dogs
Your vet should perform routine monitoring of your dog’s urine to look for any signs of bacterial infection. Bladder x-rays and urinalysis should be done one month after treatment and then every three to six months for the rest of your pet’s life.
If your dog shows any urinary-related symptoms such as frequent urination, urinating in unusual locations, pain while urinating, or has blood in the urine, he should be seen by your veterinarian right away. Unfortunately, calcium oxalate stones tend to recur despite the best prevention efforts.
Calcium oxalate bladder stones can be very frustrating to manage. Not only do they often recur, but appropriate monitoring of your dog’s health involves frequent veterinary visits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the risk and expense of surgery to remove a bladder stone is considerably more than the effort and cost of monitoring the condition closely.
Health and Wellness Associates
Chronic pain can interfere with sexuality
You and your partner can have a satisfying sexual relationship in spite of your chronic pain.
People need physical and emotional intimacy almost as much as they need food and shelter. Sexuality helps fulfill the vital need for human connection. It’s a natural and healthy part of living, as well as an important aspect of your identity as a person.
However, when chronic pain invades your life, the pleasures of sexuality often disappear. Here’s help on how to reconnect with your sexuality in spite of the chronic pain.
Talk to your doctor
Sometimes pain is the direct cause of sexual problems. You may simply hurt too much to consider having sex. Adjusting your pain medication may be the solution.
If your pain is so severe that sex seems out of the question, talk to your doctor. You may need to adjust the timing of your medication or create a different or stronger pain control plan.
Alternatively, certain medications, particularly pain medications, may cause sexual problems. Some medicines diminish sex drive (libido) or inhibit sexual function by causing changes in your nervous system. Drugs may also affect blood flow and hormones, which are two important factors in sexual response.
Tell your doctor about any medication side effects that seem to be affecting your sexuality. Your doctor may be able to recommend an alternative medication or adjust the dose of your current medication.
Examine your emotions
To have satisfying sex, you need to feel good about yourself. So start by examining your own emotions.
If pain has left you physically scarred, unemployed or unable to contribute to management of your home, your self-esteem could be so battered that you feel you are unattractive and undesirable to your partner.
Awareness that your physical and emotional distance is hurting your partner may add to your anxiety, fear, guilt and resentment.
Stress can also worsen underlying difficulties in your relationship. Even strong relationships can be challenged by medical problems or chronic pain. Being aware of emotional conflict and what’s causing it is an important first step in strengthening your relationship with your partner. Counseling may help.
Talk to your partner
The next step in reclaiming your sexuality is to talk with your partner about your feelings. At first, this may be best accomplished by talking to each other fully clothed, at the kitchen table or in another neutral setting.
Sex can be difficult to talk about. Begin your sentences with, “I,” rather than “you.” For example, “I feel loved and cared about when you hold me close,” is more likely to invite dialogue than, “You never touch me anymore.”
This is the time for both of you to talk about your fears and desires. You may think that your partner has stopped touching you because he or she has lost interest, or finds you undesirable. Instead, your partner may be fearful of causing you more physical pain or discomfort.
Rekindling the spark
Spend time just getting to know each other again. Each of you might do little things that will make the other feel loved. Restoring your emotional intimacy will make it easier to move to the next step of physical intimacy.
Start reconnecting physically with an exploration of each other’s bodies that avoids the genitals entirely (sensate focusing). The goal is not orgasm. Instead, you’re learning more about what feels good to you and to your partner.
Sexual intercourse is just one way to satisfy your need for human closeness. Intimacy can be expressed in many different ways.
- Exploring your partner’s body through touch is an exciting way to express your sexual feelings. This can include holding hands, cuddling, fondling, stroking, massaging and kissing. Touch in any form increases feelings of intimacy.
- Self-stimulation.Masturbation is a normal and healthy way to fulfill your sexual needs. One partner may use masturbation during mutual sexual activity if the other partner is unable to be very active.
- Oral sex.It can be an alternative or supplement to traditional intercourse.
- Different positions.Lie side by side, kneel or sit. Look in your library or bookstore for a guide that describes and illustrates different ways to have intercourse. If you’re embarrassed to get this kind of book locally, try an online book retailer.
- Vibrators and lubricants.A vibrator can add pleasure without physical exertion. If lack of natural lubrication is a problem, over-the-counter lubricants can prevent pain from vaginal dryness.
Intimacy can be more satisfying if you plan for it in advance. Make a date with your partner, picking a time of day when you have the most energy and the least pain.
Take your pain medication well in advance so that its effectiveness will peak when you need it. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and avoid using tobacco in any form. Alcohol and tobacco can impair sexual function.
Give yourself plenty of time to try new things. Try to stay relaxed and keep your sense of humor. Focus on the journey, not the destination. If you encounter setbacks, try not to become discouraged or focus on the negative. Keep trying.
Worth the effort
Intimacy can actually make you feel better. The body’s natural painkillers, called endorphins, are released during touch and sex. And the closeness you feel during lovemaking can help you feel stronger and better able to cope with your chronic pain.
Health and Wellness Associates
Cranberry Pear Crisp
1 pound cranberries (thawed if frozen)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 firm pears (such as Bosc), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the fresh and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons water and the vanilla and toss to coat. Lightly smash with a potato masher or fork to burst some of the cranberries. Add the pears, cinnamon, allspice and 2 tablespoons flour and toss to coat. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish.
Make the topping: Mix the remaining 1 cup flour, the pecans, oats, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a medium bowl, then stir in the melted butter. Use your fingers to pinch the topping into small clumps and sprinkle it over the fruit.
Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Health and Wellness Associates
Enjoy the Fall Apple Harvest
Crisp, juicy apples are a fall tradition. Take advantage of the bountiful selection of apples available this time of year. There are hundreds of varieties to sample. They range from red to yellow to green, crunchy to tender, sweet to tart and simple to complex.
Apples contain a wide variety of phytochemicals, many of which have been found to have strong antioxidant activity. They are particularly high in quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant.1 Epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes and obesity.2-7 Not only can eating an apple a day help keep the doctor away, an apple a day might keep the pounds away too; adding apples to the diet has been shown to enhance weight loss.8-9 To optimize phytochemical content, it is important to eat the pigment-rich apple skin. Choose whole, organic apples over applesauce or apple juice.
Apples are also a rich source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that is found in plant cell walls and tissues. This soluble fiber works to lower cholesterol by reducing the amount that is absorbed in the intestines. Studies have shown that the pectin in apples interacts with other apple phytonutrients to achieve an even greater reduction in cholesterol.10 Researchers have also discovered that apples can boost intestinal health by increasing the numbers of good gut bacteria which feed on apple pectin.11
Portable and easy to pack, apples are great to include in your on-the-go meals. For an easy dessert, enjoy them baked with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I like to dice an apple, toss it with baby greens, some chickpeas, maybe a handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds and then top it off with one of my flavored vinegars or perhaps my Almond Balsamic Dressing.
Experiment with the many different varieties of apples to discover which ones are your favorites. Have fun seeking out your local organic apple growers, farm stands and farmers markets and look for different types of interesting apples. They do not have to look perfect. The smaller and more imperfect they look, the better they taste. If you go apple picking and get lots of them, don’t worry, you can store them for several months. Just wrap each apple in a paper towel to prevent them from touching each other and store in a closed cardboard box in a cool place such as the basement or garage.
Six Foods That Have More Nutrients Per Ounce than Kale
Kale is still a wonderful value at as little as $1.99 for a bunch even in the organic section.
But can you really call it the #1 superfood among greens?
Not according to the 2014 CDC study ‘Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach.’
It ranked produce on a scale of 1-100 to find out which foods were the most nutritious.
Kale checked in at a respectable nutrient density score of 49.07.
But the following greens have it beat:
Resembling the dandelion green, this unheralded veggie can be added to salads. It checked in with a nutrient density score of 73.36. It has a nice profile of Vitamins A, C, and E among others.
Long thought to have less nutrients than kale, spinach actually scored far better with a total of 86.43.
It’s a great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, folate and more.
3. Beet Green
Think you should throw these away? Think again!
They scored a whopping 87.27 in the study. Add these to your diet for added Vitamin A, K and lutein/zeaxanthin (for vision health).
Don’t forget to eat the greens on top of the beet as well.
Also known as Swiss chard, this cousin of collard greens came in at 89.27. It’s a great change-of-pace to kale and a wonderful source of Vitamins A, K, and the important mineral magnesium.
5. Chinese Cabbage
Most people know this veggie as bok choy but few actually buy it. That’s a big mistake!
Bok choy scored a 91.99 on the nutrient density scale and is rich in silica for great hair, skin and nails as well as Vitamins A, B and K.
A great source of magnesium, folate, pantothenic acid and many different vitamins and minerals, watercress comes in at #1 with a perfect score of 100.
It’s so easy to pass up in the grocery store and so hard to find that we don’t see it passing kale in terms of its reputation for being a top health food any time soon.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pass up a chance to add it to your shopping cart if you get the chance…your body will thank you!
Health and Wellness Associates
Pork Chops with Orange Sauce
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 bone-in pork loin chops (7 ounces each)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Pour a scant 1 cup into a large resealable plastic bag; add pork chops. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for sauce.
Drain and discard marinade. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.
Grill chops, covered, over medium heat or broil 4-5 in. from the heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 145°. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with chops. Yield: 4 servings.
Health and Wellness Associates
Elevated Sugar Intake Linked to Significantly Raised Risk of Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease
According to a study published in 2013, nearly one in five US deaths is now associated with obesity. Obesity is indeed a marker for chronic and potentially deadly disease, but the underlying problem that links obesity to so many other serious health issues—including heart disease—is metabolic dysfunction.
Mounting evidence clearly shows that added sugars, and processed fructose in particular, is a primary driver of metabolic dysfunction.
Refined fructose is actually broken down very much like alcohol, damaging your liver and causing mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction in the same way as ethanol and other toxins.
It also causes more severe metabolic dysfunction because it’s more readily metabolized into fat than any other sugar. The fact that refined fructose is far more harmful to your health than other sugars was recently highlighted in a meta-review published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.1
The average American consumes one-third of a pound of sugar per day, half of which is processed fructose. Other statistics found in Dr. Richard Johnson’s book, The Sugar Fix,2 suggest about 50 percent of Americans consume as much as half a pound, more than 225 grams, per day!
The majority of all this sugar is hidden in processed foods and beverages, so to address obesity and related health issues like diabetes and heart disease, ridding your diet of processed fare is key for success.
WHO Urges Slashing Sugar Consumption to Protect Health
To lower your risk of obesity and tooth decay, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends dramatically reducing your sugar consumption, limiting added sugar to 10 percent of daily calories or less.3 This equates to about 12 teaspoons or 50 grams of sugar for most adults.
To prevent chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, the organization suggests limiting your sugar consumption to a maximum of five percent of your daily calories.
The latter five percent limit is right in line with my own standard recommendation for healthy people, which calls for keeping your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, or about five teaspoons.
However, if you already have signs of insulin resistance, such as hypertension, obesity, or heart disease, I believe you’d be wise to limit your total fructose consumption even further—down to 15 grams or less until your weight and other health conditions have normalized.
Three recent studies that have linked excessive sugar consumption to chronic disease include the following:
According to the meta-review4 mentioned earlier, the preponderance of research clearly shows that once you reach 18 percent of your daily calories from added sugar, there’s a two-fold increase in metabolic harm that promotes prediabetes and diabetes
Most recently, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)5 concluded that “most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet,” and that there’s “a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.”
The 15-year long study, which included data for 31,000 Americans, found that those who consumed 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who got less than 10 percent of their calories from sugar.
On the whole, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of added sugar in the diet regardless of the age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.
A 2014 study6 came to very similar results. Here, those who consumed the most sugar — about 25 percent of their daily calories — were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who limited their sugar intake to seven percent of their total calories.
Fried Foods Also Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Disease
Added sugar isn’t the only disease-promoting factor in your diet though. Harmful fat found in fried foods is another important one.
Preliminary research7 findings presented at a recent American Heart Association meeting linked fried food consumption with an increased risk for heart failure. Data on more than 15,300 male doctors participating in the Physicians’ Health Study was collected and analyzed. The average follow-up period was 10 years.
Those who reported eating fried food up to three times per week had an average of 18 percent increased risk of developing heart failure
Eating fried food four to six times a week was associated with a 25 percent increased risk, and
Eating fried foods seven times per week or more was associated with a 68 percent greater risk for heart failure
According to lead researcher Dr. Luc Djousse, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School:
“This study suggests that it might be wise to reduce the frequency and quantity of fried foods consumed weekly in order to prevent heart failure and other chronic conditions.”
Why Fried Foods Promote Heart Disease
These kinds of findings are not all that surprising. Dr. Fred Kummerow, author of Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit, was the first researcher to discover that consumption of trans fat—but not saturated fat—led to clogged arteries. He published the first article on this association in 1957.
Some of his most recent research8 shows that there are two types of fats in our diet responsible for the formation of heart disease:
Trans fat found in partially hydrogenated oil. Structurally, trans fats are synthetic fatty acids. Fourteen of them are produced during the hydrogenation process. (They are not present in either animal or vegetable fats.)
Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin,9 which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death.
Mounting research suggests there is NO safe limit for trans fat. This makes it an even greater concern than sugar, which your body can safely handle in small doses. Trans fat also increases insulin resistance.
Oxidized cholesterol, formed when polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as soybean, corn, and sunflower oils) are heated. A primary source is fried foods. This oxidized cholesterol (not dietary cholesterol in and of itself) causes increased thromboxane formation—a factor that clots your blood. As noted by Dr. Kummerow in a previous New York Times interview:10
“The problem is not LDL, the ‘bad cholesterol’ widely considered to be the major cause of heart disease. What matters is whether the cholesterol and fat residing in those LDL particles have been oxidized… “ Cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease, except if it’s oxidized”…
[T]he high temperatures used in commercial frying cause inherently unstable polyunsaturated oils to oxidize, and that these oxidized fatty acids become a destructive part of LDL particles. Even when not oxidized by frying, soybean and corn oils can oxidize inside the body.” [Emphasis mine]
Two diet modifications that are foundational for successful weight management and disease-prevention are a) limiting your processed food consumption, and b) increasing the amount of healthy fat and fresh whole foods in your diet.
Avoiding processed foods will automatically reduce your added sugar consumption and your exposure to harmful fats, which again include both trans fats and oxidized cholesterol. Grains, including whole grains, are also best avoided if you’re insulin/leptin resistant, have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or are overweight, as grains and other sugar-forming starchy carbohydrates lead to adverse insulin reactions.
Remember, just like fructose, trans fats interfere with your insulin receptors, thereby increasing your risk for diabetes11 and related health problems. Healthy saturated fats do not do this. For optimal health, most people may actually need upwards of 50-85 percent of their daily calories in the form of healthy fats; good sources of which include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, animal fats, and raw nuts.
Tree Nuts Are a Healthy Addition to Your Diet
A number of studies have confirmed that tree nuts can help prevent chronic disease, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The fat content of nuts—along with naturally-occurring antioxidants—may have a great deal to do with this. For example, one large-scale, 30-year long Harvard study12 found that people who ate a small handful of nuts at least seven times per week were 20 percent less likely to die for any reason, compared to those who largely avoided nuts. They were also leaner than their nut-eschewing counterparts.
Another study13 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that middle-aged women who followed a Mediterranean-style diet rich in nuts and vegetables were approximately 40 percent more likely to survive into later decades without developing some form of chronic disease. All nuts are not necessarily created equal however, and tree nuts are, from a nutritional stand point, far preferable to peanuts, which is technically a legume.
My main objections to peanuts are that they tend to distort your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio as they are relatively high in omega 6; they’re also frequently contaminated with a carcinogenic mold called aflatoxin and, perhaps surprisingly, peanuts tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides. Most nuts’ nutritional makeup closely resemble what I consider to be an ideal ratio of the basic building blocks—fat making up the greatest amount of your daily calories, followed by a moderate amount of high quality protein and a low amount of non-vegetable carbs.
My favorite nuts are raw organic macadamia and pecans, as they provide the highest amount of healthy fat while being on the lower end in terms of carbs and protein. The main fatty acid in macadamia nuts is the monounsaturated fat oleic acid (about 60 percent). This is about the level found in olives, which are also well known for their health benefits. Macadamia nuts also contain high amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium, and manganese.
Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, and research has shown they may help lower LDL cholesterol and promote healthy arteries. In the Harvard study,14 those who ate a one-ounce serving seven times or more per week appeared to benefit the most. One ounce of nuts equates to just over 28 grams, or about a small handful. The following list shows the nutrition facts15 in grams per one ounce for your most common tree nuts:
Numbers are grams per ounce Fat Protein Carbohydrates
Macadamias 22 2 4
Pecans 20 3 4
Pine nuts 20 4 4
Brazil nuts 19 4 3
Walnuts 18 4 4
Hazelnuts 17 3 5
Cashews 13 4 9
Almonds 14 6 6
Pistachios 13 6 8
Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease Are All Preventable
Nearly one in five US deaths is associated with obesity, and one in every three deaths is attributed to cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attacks and stroke. According to a 2013 report16 from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 800,000 cardiovascular disease deaths occurring in the US each year, a quarter of them —or about 200,000—could be prevented through simple lifestyle changes. Personally, I believe the rate of prevention could be far higher than that—especially if great attention was paid to sugar consumption. According to statistics found in the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s 2013 study17 Sugar Consumption at a Crossroads, up to 40 percent of US healthcare expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar.
We actually spend more than a trillion dollars each year fighting the damaging health effects of sugar! To protect your health, please consider restricting your fructose consumption to 25 grams per day or less. If you’re overweight or have a disease such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease (or are at high risk for them) then you’re probably better off further reducing your fructose intake to 15 grams per day or less (and this includes all sources—HFCS, sugar, honey, agave, fruit, fruit juice, maple syrup, etc.)
Doing this will help you normalize your insulin- and leptin levels, thereby reducing your risk of not only diabetes and heart disease, but also a long list of other chronic health problems. Key to success when cutting out added sugar is to replace the lost calories (energy) with high-quality healthy fat, which includes avocados; butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk; raw dairy; organic pastured egg yolks; coconuts and coconut oil; unheated organic nut oils; raw nuts and seeds; and grass-fed and finished meats. For even more heart-healthy lifestyle tips, please see my dedicated heart disease page.
Health and Wellness Associates