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New Year, New Diet and Weight Loss Information

English: Nutrigenomics: bring disease, cancer,...

English: Nutrigenomics: bring disease, cancer, diet and genetics together (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are so many reasons why people choose to follow a certain diet.  It is “in” to be thin. So, if you follow a diet that cuts calories or fat, maybe you choose to eliminate meat for ethical reasons or you reduce your cravings by minimizing carb intake, you might want to consider genetic markers that influence disease risk to truly feed your body the right fuel.

Your genes are not only involved with your physical appearance but also involved in daily interactions that effect your health and your weight. Scientists are now beginning to understand how genes play part in the direct effect on health and weight loss. The metabolism, storage and absorption of macronutrients (calories, fats carbohydrates and proteins)  are directed by your genes. This may explain why, you and a friend may follow the same diet but you do not lose the same amount of weight.  Various genes have different working  mechanisms. These interactions are affected by the environment and yes that includes the food you eat.

How can body weight be affected by genes? Just a few ways are featured at,  http://www.weight-loss-i.com/body-weight-genes.htm, and they list: appetite, fat storage, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and lean body mass to fat ratio.

Genes and related Factors on Weight and Blood Sugar (Diabetes):

These are just a few examples of contributing factors effecting excess weight and diabetes beyond the calorie hypothesis.

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Nutrigenomics (the study of the effects of foods on genetic behavior) is a new field that is likely going to prove how much we DO NOT know about nutrition and current dietary recommendations.

If the diet you are now following does not work, it may simply be because you and your body are not in sync, you have not found the diet that your body is looking for.  You may need to explore subtle variations in your current eating regimen. You may need to work with an experienced weight loss expert who can assist you in your weight loss and improved health journey. There is hope, keep trying.

It may not be your fault that you are trying to lose weight and are not successful.

What is important to realize is that individualized diets based on genetics, will be more available in the future.

 

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Diabetes, diet, genes, weight gain, weight loss

 

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A is for Arsenic in Apple Juice…

Dr. Oz. was attacked from many different fronts after his show exposed the contamination of apple juice with arsenic , http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/arsenic-apple-juice (there are a few interesting links here you may want to surf,  Sen. Schumer Calls on the FDA to Regulate Juice Companies, FDA Statement, Current Standards, Research Results…).

A part of this controversy stems from the fact that the apples used to make the juice are grown in China, where food regulation laws are not as stringent, are contaminated as a result of pesticide spraying. I did some research on this and came up with an interesting study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21632110, entitled, “Inorganic Arsenic in Chinese Food and its Cancer Risk”.

Shockingly, I found more information about arsenic in U.S. chickens, http://nutritionfacts.org/blog/2011/09/19/dr-oz-apple-juice-and-arsenic-chicken-may-have-10-times-more/. Apparently chickens ingest the arsenic in the feed they are fed.

Dr. Michael Greger quotes the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration,  “Chicken consumption may contribute significant amounts of arsenic to total arsenic exposure of the U.S. population….Levels of arsenic in chicken are so high that other sources may have to be monitored carefully to prevent undue toxic exposure among the population.” Read more at http://nutritionfacts.org/blog/2011/09/19/dr-oz-apple-juice-and-arsenic-chicken-may-have-10-times-more/.

These reports seem to support the fact that arsenic is not foreign to our food supply and before we go burying the hatchet on apple juice, maybe we need to turn over a few more stones to uncover just how deep-rooted arsenic and other toxic contaminants are in our food supply.
What does this mean for the unsuspecting consumer?
Arsenic is linked to poor mental health in children as well as diabetes, heart and nerve disease for the entire population.
 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Arsenic, Dr. Oz

 

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Cancer Warning Labels on Soda for California in 2012

Cola is usually colored dark brown using caram...

Image via Wikipedia

California is requiring that a cancer warning label be placed on brown colored sodas that contain caramel coloring because toxicology reports, in 2003 and 2005 from The National Institute of Health‘s National Toxicology Program, suggest that ingredients contained in caramel coloring are linked to cancer. It is believed that the caramel color contains two cancer causing ingredients, 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI) and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI). I’m a label reader and have never seen 2 or 4-MEI listed on the label of any bottle of brown colored soda. If you are interested in reading USA reporter Elizabeth Weise’s story, here’s the link, http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-02-21-colacolor21_ST_N.htm.  I guess caramel coloring is a more friendly sounding term than each of the chemical components in question that sound like they  may be something that actually might cause cancer. 

Just to be fair…The American Beverage Association denies the caramel color/cancer connection. However, if it is true, I wonder how much money they lose if they stop production NOW!?

Here’s the stuff that got me when I went to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caramel_color, “caramel color is made by a carefully controlled heat treatment of carbohydrates, generally in the presence of acids, alkalis, or salts, in a process called caramelization. It is fully oxidized has an odor of burnt sugar and a somewhat bitter taste. Its color ranges from pale yellow to amber to dark brown .”  In my readings, I recall, oxidation and burnt foods have been linked to the aging process and cancer.

It’s not just the caramel color and cancer link you should be worrying about when you drink soda. Awhile back I wrote about the risks of drinking soda, http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/page/4/, and listed a few reasons why you should trade in soda for healthier beverages, such as tea, tomato juice or V-8,  homemade lemonade, Greens+(http://greensplus.com/index.php)…

Other foods that contain caramel color are: beer and liqeour, brown bread and custard, doughnuts, cookies, fruit preserves and I guess you’ll have to start checking the ingredient section on the label to see just how many products contain caramel coloring.

Bottom line just like anything else, you need to be the judge and make the right choice for you. Would love to hear your thought, please let me know which side you are on.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Acrylamide: A Carcinogen You May Want To Know About

Acrylamide is a “natural” chemical that has been classified as a carcinogen and it can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested. Despite this “cancer causing label” and its association with nerve damage, skin irritation and possibly reproductive health, acrylamide is used for many purposes ranging from building materials and auto parts to ink and adhesive tape. Acrylamide has been found in municipal drinking water, dental and hair products, soaps/creams and make-up. Here’s some background from the World Health Organizations, www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/chem/acrylamide_june2002/en/index.html

Interestingly enough acrylamide is “naturally” formed when foods that contain both asparagine (an amino acid/protein) and sugar (or carbohydrate) are fried, grilled or baked at temperatures higher than 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked potatoes and cereal products have been identified as having high levels of acrylamide. For example, french fries contain high amounts of acrylamide for three reasons:

1. high amounts of aspargine
2. starch/carbohydrates
3. high heat cooking temperatures

I continually hear about the health implications associated with eating fat, or carbohydrates and avoiding meat because of the fat content. When you hear about food and how it affects health remember it’s not always so simple. You need all 3 factors (asparagine, starch, high heat) to form the carcinogen acrylamide. Sweden seems to have taken the lead on this and I found a list of foods (crackers, cereal, waffles, pizza etc…) that were measured to determine the amount of acrylamide they contain, www.mindfully.org/Food/Acrylamide-Heat-Processed-Foods26apr02.htm.

Whether you are trying to eat more healthy or if there is a history of cancer in your family you may want to avoid foods that contain  higher levels of acrylamide.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Breast cancer, cancer, cooking

 

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Vitamin Water: Another “UN”Healthy Food in Disguise

In my efforts to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), I started drinking Vitamin Water. I divide the bottle into thirds and add water so the amount of sugar is not high and the HFCS is replaced with crystalline fructose (CF). The name Vitamin Water implies that this beverage is healthy but really there are less than 5% of minerals. So, in essence vitamin water is really sugar water worse yet, fructose water.

It seems I have been seeing CF in more products lately and did a little research on this new ingredient that is seemingly popping up in “healthier” foods. Here’s what I found:

Crystalline fructose is worse than HFCS! Why? Because it is composed entirely of processed fructose vs. 55% processed fructose in HFCS. Do not get my message confused. I am not suggesting you stick with HFCS. I am saying stay away from both!

Processed fructose has been linked to numerous unhealthy risk factors (high triglycerides, high blood sugar and insulin levels) and poor health conditions including: fatty liver, diabetes, heart disease and cancer;

I guess on a more positive note, CF is 20% sweeter than sugar so if you are looking to cut calories you may be inclined to use it so that you can cut calories.

But I will keep reminding you, it is not about calories. It’s about the type of metabolic activity that the calories produce. If the calories follow healthy metabolic pathways, you will avoid ill health. If your calories are metabolized and trigger unhealthy responses and increase hunger signals, you will pay with your weight and health. Vitamin Water and crystalline fructose are two perfect examples of this.

My message is to always read the labels for ingredients while you focus on eating healthy products while lessening your attentiveness on just the calories and fat. It is more important to know which ingredients your calories come from than to obsess with a 100 calorie marketing seal of approval.

 

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Carbohydrates and Starchy Foods Linked to Cancer?

Last week, I talked about the dietary guidelines committee and the recommendations that continue to be pretty much the same as they have been for too many years now. I’m beginning to think that they are not experts so much as they are puppets.

 When there is valid research suggesting a link between starchy and sugary foods and cancer, the public should be made aware and guidelines should be made that take into account all research not just the ones that fit a certain political agenda. What does politics have to do with food?  The grain industry has a lot to lose if recommendations and consumer purchasing shifts. And as suggested by the research, it should.  

If anyone knows how breads, cereals and other commercially processed foods landed the bottom (largest amount of servings) of the pyramid let me know.

Here’s the research, why has there not been more research to at least follow up on this. If I’ve missed it please someone send it to me:

  •  “Food Groups and Risk of Colon Cancer”  Int J Cancer. 1997 Jul 3;72(1):56-61 (FYI, there are more recent studies but this one was specific to food groups so I figured you’d want to see this one.)

                   Foods that increased risk of colon cancer in order of highest risk: bread, cereal, potato, cake/dessert and refined sugar…yep you read correctly bread, cereal and potato were the worst culprits  

                  One serving of vegetables lowered colon cancer risk by 20%. Fruit and fish were also found to lower risk.

                 Eggs and meat had no effect on colon cancer.

 

  • Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that “sucrose and fructose” (sugar not fat) had the strongest association with breast cancer.  

             Mike Adams, the Health Ranger and Editor of NaturalNews.com    wrote about this study and its worthwhile reading. He reports that “57% or more of total energy intake from carbohydrates showed a 220% higher risk of breast cancer than women with more balanced diets”,  http://www.naturalnews.com/001812.html

Aren’t government recommendations for carbohydrates 50-60% of your diet?

 

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For All The Soda Drinkers (Part II)

Both adults and children drink soda. Studies show that:
• over 60% of adults who drink at least one soda a day are overweight or obese.
• More children and adolescents drink soda than adults (41 percent of children, 62 percent of adolescents and 24 percent of adults).

So I thought you might find it interesting to understand how soda affects you.

WARNING: The material below may contain material that is alarming but definitely worth reading. The information gives you a better understanding of why it is important to understand the foods and ingredients you put into your body. You miss the boat if you only pay attention to calories, fat or carbohydrates.

How can soda affect your health and weight?

1. Both citric acid and phosphoric acid affects blood PH and natural stomach acid secretions interfering with digestion, increasing risk of kidney stones, yeast overgrowth and bowel disease and leaching calcium from bone (especially teeth, spine, pelvis) causing weak bones and mineral imbalances.

2. Caffeine is a diuretic that can facilitate vitamin/mineral depletion, dehydration, fertility issues, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, and depression.

3. Excess sugar leads to excess calories, increased weight and blood sugar problems like diabetes. Research studies also support a link with the following health hazards:

a. Pancreatic cancer: University of Minnesota conducted a study with individuals who drank approximately two regular sodas/day. The conclusion was that there was an 87% higher chance of having cancer than those who drank beverages without sugar/corn syrup.

b. Diabetes and heart disease: At the American heart association’s Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Annual Cardiology Conference there was a presentation by a professor from the University of California, San Francisco who made the association of approximately 200,000 new cases of diabetes and heart disease/year with soda drinkers.

c. Immune system: sugar has also been shown to lower the immune system due to damage of white blood cells.

4. Artificial sweeteners can lead to eating more because they do not provide the calories to signal to your body that it is satisfying your hunger. They breakdown to methanol and formaldehyde affecting the immune and nervous system and may even be involved in destroying brain neurons leading to headaches/migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue with an inability to fall asleep. Other associated symptoms include vision problems, anxiety attacks, depression, and asthma/chest tightness. Recently diet soda, like regular soda, was linked to a 50 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors such as excessive fat around the waist, low levels of “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure and other symptoms.

5. Sodium can throw off electrolyte balance. Sodium benzoate is a preservative in many foods. The combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in soda can react to form benzene. The major health effects of benzene include damage to bone marrow and decreases in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can cause damage to DNA. Damage to DNA will contribute to aging and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. Benzene is known to lead to cancer in both animals and humans.

6. Caramel color may suppress the immune system and has been linked to increase blood pressure.

So you see with all the attention focused on calories, fat and carbs, all these other harmful ingredients fall under the radar. And while most experts insist on scratching the surface by focusing on calories, I will urge you to dig a little deeper and really get a handle on the big picture—all the elements of a food or beverage product that can affect your health.

If you have any questions about what you are really eating and drinking, let me know and we can share it to help make the world a healthier place.

 

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Make A Change To Make A Difference: Ready, Set, Go!

Changing behavior is one of the most difficult things to do in life and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Although “change” is a simple word, the process of change is complicated. If you have diabetes (or any medical condition that can improve with lifestyle changes), wish to lose weight or want a better relationship, your readiness to change will make the difference in your long term success.

Being diagnosed with an illness is difficult to digest. Desperately wanting to lose weight after many failed weight loss attempts will not make losing weight easier. In order to get on the right track to reach your goals, you must get “ready”.

READY” is defined as, “completely prepared” or “in condition for immediate action”. Therefore one of the best ways to ensure you will achieve your health goals is to get ready.

Make weekly appointment with youself. Set a date and time, put it on the calendar or you may never get the time you need to take care of yourself. Then determine what your goals are and prepare for action. This is all about Y-O-U! So, you will be the best person to determine what your goals are. No one else can tell you how to prioritize your life. You do not have to do this alone you can enlist a friend, family member or healthcare expert to help. I think its best to get as many people who are willing to support you on board as possible. Be honest with yourself; make sure those who support you provide unconditional help. Be prepared to deal with those who are not supportive.

GET SET:

List your goals.

List specific actions that must be made.

Describe how you will execute your plan.

List behaviors that will contribute to success.

Think about the barriers you will have to overcome and plan on how to change your behavior to achieve victory.

Learn from mistakes and plan for success the next time you experience a pitfall.

Accept the fact that changing behavior is not easy and you will experience setbacks.

Ask yourself:

How will I learn new behaviors and let go of poor behaviors?
How can I anticipate a behavior relapse?
How can I maintain motivation?
What are the benefits?
What are the drawbacks of my changes?

GO: No one else can do this for you but you. Denial and avoidance will get you nowhere. Take the bull by the horns and GO for a healthy lifestyle. It will likely be an opportunity for improved quality of life and good health for the whole family.

 

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Dealing With Diabetes and Depression: You Are Not Alone

There are so many topics about diabetes that can be covered, I could stay on this topic and never have to write about anything else. I am going to cover two more topics (depression and readiness to change) that are extremely important to good health and diabetes and then move on to other topics. However, I will continue to weave diabetes into my blog and answer any comments or questions you may have.

Being diagnosed with diabetes, any medical illness or emotionally traumatizing event should automatically trigger the waving of a yellow “support” flag. All too often we are diagnosed with a physical illness such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer and we rush to treat the physical problem. We forget about the emotional and psychological component of being, or having a loved one, diagnosed with a life altering condition. Everyone at some time in their life experiences depression and if you are diagnosed with a medical condition or you experience horrific situations as a soldier or you are a victim of crime or an accident, you are likely to experience some form of depression. Even new moms are prone to postpartum depression. Heck just getting older is enough to start thinking the worst. No matter what the reason. Please know you are not alone.

Over the course of one year, approximately 19 million adults will experience depression. Twenty-five to fifty percent of people who are diagnosed with a chronic illness are also likely to suffer from depression, http://www.cmha.bc.ca/resources/bc_resources/depconcurrent/.
Here are some of the stats for those who are diagnosed with a medical condition and who suffer with depression:

Postpartum depression: 10-20%
Cancer: 42%
Heart disease: 18-26%
Diabetes: 33%
Multiple sclerosis: 6-60%
Parkinson’s disease: 40%
Stroke: 30-50%
Substance abuse: 50%

Your mind is critical to overcoming diabetes (or any illness) and the health conditions associated with it. Accepting and becoming actively involved in caring for diabetes is the most important part of treating high blood sugar. Denial is easy, especially with diabetes because you can walk around and function as if you did not have any illness at all, well that’s until diabetes catches up with you. No one knows that you feel tired, your vision is blurry, or your thirst is unquenchable. In fact many people can perform daily tasks and walk around with high blood sugar levels without realizing they have diabetes.

However, when you throw a monkey wrench into the mix, namely depression, your ability to care for yourself is diminished despite the need for consistent self-care. Here’s a quick resource to help identify depression and get appropriate help, http://www.diabetes.org/type-2-diabetes/depression.jsp, http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/17/3/167.full. If you follow this link, http://www.cmha.bc.ca/resources/bc_resources/depconcurrent/, see “Depression and Diabetes”. You’ll see the relationship between diabetes and depression and how debilitating the two co-existing conditions can be. They describe diabetes and depression as, “A vicious cycle that makes both your diabetic and depressive conditions worse. Knowing about this cycle is half the battle: depression => lack of motivation => poor management of diabetes => high blood sugar levels => greater fatigue and lethargy => worsened mood => further depression.”

Understand the signs and symptoms of depression, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-and-depression/AN02011, http://diabetes.about.com/od/preventingcomplications/qt/depression.htm, and work with a mental health professional to get you on track and help develop strategies for dealing with depression and its impact on your day-to-day life, http://www.helpguide.org/mental/treatment_strategies_depression.htm.

 

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Insulin Lurks As An Underlying Cause to Many of Your Health Concerns

The link between insulin, diabetes and breast cancer is not the only health concern we should worry about. Insulin’s association with the manifestation and prognosis of these risk factors and diseases has been shown time and time again:

1. colon cancer
2. prostate cancer
3. pancreatic cancer
4. breast cancer
5. diabetes
6. metabolic syndrome
7. obesity
8. high blood pressure (kidney damage)
9. congestive heart failure
10. high levels of triglycerides (liver damage)
11. low HDL (good) cholesterol (liver damage)
12. heart disease
13. high C-reactive protein levels (heart disease)
14. polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
15. inflammation
16. infertility
17. aging, common characteristics of those who live the longest include low normal values for:
• fasting insulin levels
• fasting glucose
• triglycerides
• body fat found around your organs, typically you carry weight around the mid-section of your body

High insulin levels affect children too! Here are risk factors associated with high insulin levels and diseases that are common in children who are overweight.

1. overweight
2. diabetes
3. metabolic syndrome
4. high homocysteine levels (a risk factor for heart disease and stroke)
5. high LDL (bad cholesterol)
6. non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
7. acanthosis nigricans (a brown or black velvety color to the skin).

If the information is out there, ever wonder why the smart guys making big money do not focus on this? Me too, the bottom line for early detection of the illnesses mentioned above is to speak with your doctor about checking insulin levels (fasting and after you eat along with a glucose tolerance test) at routine visits. Eat low carbohydrate/low glycemic foods that will help keep insulin levels low.

 

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