Jump Into Spring with Nutritional News
By Darra McMullen,
Women’s Health Network Writer/Researcher
Note to readers: Regular readers of this blog may have been looking for the following article around March 23rd. to 26th, the planned publication time. This writer apologizes for any inconvenience experienced. Sometimes, life’s challenges simply cause other things to run a little later than anticipated. No need to worry, though. The regularly scheduled April article focusing on eye and ear health will be published this month, appearing around April 13, to allow time for everyone to have a chance to read the final installment of the March topic on nutrition. Please enjoy that story below, now.
As we continue with our look into better nutritional habits, it’s time to examine some of the latest nutritional news that has appeared over the past few months in various journals or other media sources.
Health news has, recently, covered the gamut of categories, which is a very good thing. The more potential health problems that can be helped by nutritional means, the more we have access to tools to help ourselves grow healthier over time.
The following nutritional news will be labeled according to ailment addressed for easier reading.
• The Cleveland Clinic reported that its research showed eating as little as one-half cup of cruciferous vegetables daily could ease joint flexibility and mobility so much as to return joint health to that of someone six years younger. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts are very rich in sulfur, and sulfur is known to be a nutrient that tames inflammation and encourages pain reduction. Sulfur is also known to help repair and strengthen joint cartilage.
• Another study proven way to improve joint health is with plant fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, or extra-virgin olive oil. The British Medical Journal reported that taking in as little as 1 tablespoon of plant fats daily can reduce knee pain by 20% or more. Study co-author, Tim Spector, M.D., explained that plant fats help to turn off an inflammation-inducing enzyme that if left unchecked can otherwise cause tissue damage in joints.
Mighty ginger, pain relief, and breast cancer:
• Ginger is known to contain gingerols and shogaols, which are compounds that stop swelling and inflammation, stimulate the immune system, and provide pain relief on par with aspirin’s abilities. Therefore, ginger could aid arthritis pain or other inflammatory conditions.
Now, new “news” of another benefit of ginger has hit the headlines. The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology reports that another one of ginger’s active ingredients, 6-shogaol, specifically targets breast cancer stem cells in lab tests. This could potentially mean that tumors could be shut down before they even get started by using regular doses of ginger in the diet. Obviously, this is a preliminary finding, and more research needs to be done, but this is an exciting “nugget of hope”, especially for people with a high risk for breast cancer.
• Speaking of cancer, the rinds of sour citrus fruits, such as limes and lemons, contain two important compounds shown to have anti-cancer properties. The compounds, d-limonene and perilyll acid, are potent antagonists to cancer. Research detailed in the Journal Pharmaceutical Biology explains that both compounds inhibit tumor growth. Interestingly, a study by the University of Arizona links consumption of citrus zest with a significantly lower risk of skin cancer.
Lemon or lime zest is easy to add to many recipes, and now we have additional motivation to take that extra little step to make our food another helpful tool in the war on cancer.
• An additional pair of headlines pertaining to cancer come in the form of dietary tips that can reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Research from Harvard University shows that lycopene, found in tomatoes, can reduce cervical cancer risk by 40% in women subjects who ate one cup of fresh tomatoes or one-half cup cooked tomato products daily. Lycopene, the substance responsible for tomatoes’ bright red color, is also the nutrient that energizes the white blood cells that destroy suspect cervical cancer cells before they have a chance to develop into cancer.
The second cervical cancer related headline comes from research reported in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, which explained that cervical cancer risk can be reduced by 31% by eating ¾ cup of fresh or frozen berries or one cup of grapes per day. These fruits contain compounds called ellagitannins, which enhance cervical cell health, and therefore, prohibit cancers from ever forming, according to study coauthor, Antonio Carbo, PhD.
• Apparently, skipping breakfast is one of the worst things Type 2 diabetics can do for themselves. Recent research showed that study participants who skipped breakfast had a 37% higher blood sugar reading at lunchtime and a 27% higher reading at dinner than the participants had experienced on days when they had eaten breakfast, even when starch and sugar were carefully controlled.
• A 15-year study of 64,000 women found that diabetes risk can be cut by 39% if liberal amounts of antioxidants are consumed. (Yes, dark chocolate and red wine do count as antioxidant rich choices! Remember, though, to consume both of these foods in moderation.)
Guy Fagherazzi, PhD, the study’s co-author, explained that antioxidants may make cells more sensitive to insulin; certainly, antioxidants counter-balance damaging effects of free radicals.
Weight Loss/Weight Maintenance:
• The Journal of Dietary Supplements recently featured a study that showed people who consumed 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids containing 180 mg. of EPA and 120 mg. of DHA daily could cut their calorie intake by 22 percent. The effective dose of EPA and DHA used in the study would be approximately the amount found in 3 oz. of salmon or a handful of walnuts. Study authors explained that omega-3s increase the production of a hormone, leptin, which boosts satiety.
• Researchers at Penn State University found that study participants who ate oatmeal for breakfast cut snacking by 81% without using any other lifestyle changes. The soluble fiber in oats causes the stomach to release a hormone, cholecystokinin, which suppresses hunger.
Hopefully, all of the above nutritional tips will provide you with more choices for a healthy pathway forward. Jump into spring with better health!