Who says we have to suffer...to live a healthy happy vibrant life?

Red wine and dark chocolate... might seem decadent...but these guilty pleasures also might help us live longer...and healthier lives. Red wine and dark chocolate definitely improve an evening..but they also contain resveratrol..which lowers blood sugar. Red wine is a great source of catechins..which boost protective HDL cholesterol. Green tea? Protects your brain..helps you live longer..and soothes your spirit.

Food for Thought, the blog, is about living the good life...a life we create with our thoughts and our choices...and having fun the whole while!

I say lets make the thoughts good ones..and let the choices be healthy...exciting...and delicious! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Higher Vitamin D Intake Needed for Cancer Protection

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha have reported that markedly higher intake of vitamin D is needed to reach blood levels that can prevent or markedly cut the incidence of breast cancer and several other major diseases than had been originally thought. The findings are published February 21 in the journal Anticancer Research.
While these levels are higher than traditional intakes, they are largely in a range deemed safe for daily use in a December 2010 report from the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine.
“We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4000-8000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases - breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes,” said Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. “I was surprised to find that the intakes required to maintain vitamin D status for disease prevention were so high – much higher than the minimal intake of vitamin D of 400 IU/day that was needed to defeat rickets in the 20th century.”

“I was not surprised by this” said Robert P. Heaney, MD, of Creighton University, a distinguished biomedical scientist who has studied vitamin D need for several decades. “This result was what our dose-response studies predicted, but it took a study such as this, of people leading their everyday lives, to confirm it.”
The study reports on a survey of several thousand volunteers who were taking vitamin D supplements in the dosage range from 1000 to 10,000 IU/day. Blood studies were conducted to determine the level of 25-vitamin D – the form in which almost all vitamin D circulates in the blood.
“Most scientists who are actively working with vitamin D now believe that 40 to 60 ng/ml is the appropriate target concentration of 25-vitamin D in the blood for preventing the major vitamin D-deficiency related diseases, and have joined in a letter on this topic,” said Garland. “Unfortunately, according a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only 10 percent of the US population has levels in this range, mainly people who work outdoors.”
Interest in larger doses was spurred in December of last year, when a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine committee identified 4000 IU/day of vitamin D as safe for every day use by adults and children nine years and older, with intakes in the range of 1000-3000 IU/day for infants and children through age eight years old.
While the IOM committee states that 4000 IU/day is a safe dosage, the recommended minimum daily intake is only 600 IU/day.

“Now that the results of this study are in, it will become common for almost every adult to take 4000 IU/day,” Garland said. “This is comfortably under the 10,000 IU/day that the IOM Committee Report considers as the lower limit of risk, and the benefits are substantial.” He added that people who may have contraindications should discuss their vitamin D needs with their family doctor.
“Now is the time for virtually everyone to take more vitamin D to help prevent some major types of cancer, several other serious illnesses, and fractures,” said Heaney.
Other co-authors of the article were Leo Baggerly, PhD, and Christine French.

Cognitive Decline Slowed and Mood Benefits Seen in Seniors with EPA& DHA from Fish OIls

Cognitive Decline Significantly Less After Fish Oil Supplementation

A study of over 1,400 older adults with depression reported decreased cognitive decline with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. In the study, participants aged 55 years and older took omega-3 fatty acids for 18 months and showed significantly less cognitive decline than a control group that did not receive omega-3 supplementation, after accounting for age, gender and nutritional and vascular disease risk factors. Conversely, no association was found between fish consumption and cognitive decline, in the study, published in the 2011 "Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Aging."

Symptoms of Depression Relieved...
Depression in elderly women responds well to supplementation with omega-3 essential fatty acids, according to a study published in the 2011 "Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging." In the study, participants aged 66 to 95 years consumed 2.5 g of omega-3 essential fatty acids per day, comprised of 1.67 g eicosapentanoic acid, EPA, and 0.83 g docosahexanoic acid, DHA, for eight weeks. Symptoms of depression, as measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale were significantly lower after the first two months. A questionnaire of physical and mental symptoms showed significant improvement in the omega-3 group and levels of EPA and DHA in red blood cell membranes significantly increased in response to the fatty acid supplementation, say the authors of the study.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements and cognitive decline: Singapore Longitudinal Aging Studies.
J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 ;15(1):32-5.

Positive results were also reported recently related to depression occurring concomitantly with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers found adults with major depressive disorder were more likely to have low omega-3 fatty acid levels, higher triglycerides and higher body mass compared to adults without depression and CVD.

Major depressive disorder is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and low Omega-3 index.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Dec 14. [Epub ahead of print]

5 Seconds of Every Number 1 Pop Hit..this is so cool!

Music Lovers....

Listen to this when you have some time...it is five seconds or so of every number one single from the beginning of pop charts to the 90's as a single track...


and then Part two


Enjoy...I bet some of these will take you back!

Think Lifestyle Choices Don't Matter? Check Out This Vitamin E Study!

Vitamin E...either protects or doesn't against pneumonia..depending on whether or not a person smoked or exercised.

Vitamin E decreased pneumonia risk by 69% among participants who had the least exposure to smoking and exercised during leisure time. In contrast, vitamin E increased pneumonia risk by 79% among those who had the highest exposure to smoking and did not exercise! In laboratory studies, vitamin E has influenced the immune system. In several animal studies vitamin E protected against viral and bacterial infections. So studying humans seems reasonable...

Very interesting outcome swing from protective to non-protective depending on smoking status. Message here? Don't Smoke...take vitamin E and exercise!
University of Helsinki (2011, February 17). Vitamin E may increase or decrease the risk of pneumonia, depending on smoking and exercise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/02/110217104951.htm

Blood Vessel Damage and Elevated Homocysteine

A bit of background...the post before this one tells of a link between dementia and low vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid status. You are taking a good multi-vitamin aren't you? When we have too little of those two B vitamins, or of vitamin B-6 we run the risk of having an elevations of a compound in the blood called homocysteine. 

Why do we worry about this? Well, aside from the risk of dementia..or Alzheimer's, having elevated homocysteine also puts us in danger of heart attack, and blood clots in our brains or in our legs...and yes the ones in our legs are very dangerous. They can move to our lungs and kill us...just as a clot in the brain can cause a stroke, or one in a coronary artery can cause a heart attack.

Suffice it to say...we don't want to ignore elevated homocysteine. Homocysteine is thought to cause vascular disease because of its effect on blood vessel walls. Homocysteine binds to certain proteins in the body affecting their structure and function. The binding of homocysteine to proteins will degrade and inhibit repair and maintenance of three main vascular connective tissue structures—cartilage, elastin and proteolgycans—making them more susceptible to disease processes, including vascular disease.

How might we protect ourselves....well that part is easy!

B Vitamins...B-12, Folic acid and B-6..and another supplement called NAC. N Acetyl Cysteine. You can have your doctor add the homocysteine screening to your cholesterol panel next time you're in for a check-up...you ARE getting them routinely yes? If your multi-vitamin isn't getting the job done...meaning your level is higher than what is ideal...you could use a higher potency B-Complex for a bit, and some NAC to reduce your risk.

Here's an abstract from one study that identified the mechanisms I mentioned above for blood vessel damage...

"Elevated blood levels of homocysteine also are considered an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis and thromboembolism (the obstruction of a blood vessel by a clot), and are correlated with a significant risk for coronary, cerebral and peripheral vascular disease, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), peripheral vascular occlusive disease, cerebral vascular occlusive disease, and retinal vascular disease."

Lentz SR. 
"Mechanisms of homocysteine-induced atherothrombosis." J Thromb Haemost. 2005 Aug;3(8):1646-54.

       And one more thing to think about...stress, anger, and hostility..seem to raise homocysteine levels...Results showed that there was a positive and significant association between hostility and homocysteine levels for all participants, and a positive and significant correlation between anger in and homocysteine levels for men. This is one suggested potential mechanism for the increased cardiovascular risk associated with hostility and anger expression Psychological factors appear to be related to blood concentrations of homocysteine. It is possible that hostility may be a sign of more life stress, and that stress appears to increase homocysteine levels. So take it easy! 

 Stoney CM, Engebretson TO
"Plasma Homocysteine Concentrations Are Positively Associated With Hostility and Anger," , Life Sci, 2000;66(23):2267-2275.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vitamin B-12 and Folic Acid May Be Important For Dementia Patients

If you have a loved one who suffers with Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease supplemental B-12 and folic acid is inexpensive and may be helpful. For the rest of us, supplemental B-12 and folic acid not only protect our blood vessels from being damaged by elevated homocysteine, but may protect our cognitive processes as we age...

In a retrospective study involving 32 Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients, 12 vascular dementia (VaD) patients, 83 dementia due to other causes (DOC) patients, and 127 controls, results indicate that AD and VaD patients may benefit from vitamin B12 and folate supplementation. In AD, VaD, and DOC patients, the levels of vitamin B(12), and folate were significantly lower, compared with controls. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, "Vitamin B(12) and folate were significantly low in both AD and VaD patients. Hence, B vitamin supplementation should be considered as possible targets for the therapeutic intervention in dementia."
Vitamin B(12) and folate represent modifiable risk factors for dementia. Deficient or insufficient levels may increase the risk of Alzheimer's dementia (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD) as their deficiency can increase the homocysteine level due to slowed methylation reaction. Homocysteine elevation has a neurotoxic effect that could lead to neurologic disturbances.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Asparagus with Sesame Dressing..from my old cooking class days....

I do love asparagus, but this dressing is delicious with steamed kale or rapini too.

Sesame dressing
•     1 garlic clove, finely chopped
•     2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
•     2 tbs. malt vinegar
•     2 tbs. sesame oil
•     4 tbs, tamari sauce
•     2 tsp. sugar
•     2 tbs. peanut oil

1 lb. asparagus spears, cut into thirds diagonally
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. 
Prepare a big bowl of ice water to drop the cooked asparagus into..just as you take it off the boil.

Plunge the asparagus in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. It should be cooked to crisp/tender, no more.
Then drop it into an ice water bath to "shock" it and stop the cooking so it doesn't overcook.

Toss the asparagus and some of the dressing together in a pretty dish and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Nothing Beats the Mediterranean Diet..for Overall Health

If you are trying to find the most effective heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be perfect for you. The Mediterranean lifestyle incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine — among other components that best reflect traditional cooking styles in countries that live along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

The characteristics of the Mediterranean diet include eating much higher amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, than other western pattern diets. You'll be using healthy vegetable oils, like olive oil when you cook and as a condiment. Fish is a hallmark of the Mediterranean way of eating: fish or shellfish is at least twice a week on a menu, and may be there daily, while red meat may only happen once a week or even less. Whole grains and small portions of nuts are also one of the essentials.

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of overall and cardiovascular mortality, a reduced incidence of cancer and cancer mortality, and a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
For this reason, most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases.

Eat Mostly Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Whole Grains

The Mediterranean diet traditionally is fundamentally based on fruits, vegetables, pasta and rice. For example, residents of Greece eat very little red meat and average nine servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. The major benefit? A lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol that's more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.
Nuts are featured in a healthy Mediterranean diet. Nuts are high in fat (approximately 80 percent of their calories come from fat), but most of the fat is unsaturated and very healthy for your heart and blood vessels. Because nuts are high in calories, they should not be eaten in large amounts — generally no more than a handful a day. For the best nutrition, avoid candied or honey-roasted and heavily salted nuts. Eat raw walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts...
Grains in the Mediterranean region are typically whole grain and usually contain very few unhealthy trans fats, and bread is an important part of the diet there. However, throughout the Mediterranean region, bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil — not eaten with butter or margarines, which contain saturated or trans fats. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and some fresh herbs and sea salt for a delicious dip for whole grain breads.

Be Wise About Fats

The focus of the Mediterranean diet isn't on limiting total fat consumption, but rather to be wise about the types of fat you eat. The Mediterranean diet discourages saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats, fried foods), all of which contribute to heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat — a type of fat that can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated or trans fats. "Extra-virgin" and "virgin" olive oils — the least processed forms — also contain the highest levels of the protective plant compounds that provide antioxidant effects.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil and some nuts, contain the beneficial alpha linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of the most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet. I always suggest supplementing with 1000 mg combined EPA and DHA in addition to eating a fish based diet.

Be Wise About Wine

The health effects of alcohol are a subject of heated debate. Many doctors and nutritionists are reluctant to encourage alcohol consumption because of the dire negative health consequences of excessive drinking. However, alcohol — in moderation — has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease in some research studies. Also some studies feel that a small amount of alcohol contributes to healthy brain aging.
The Mediterranean diet typically includes a moderate amount of wine. This means no more than 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine daily for women (or men over age 65), and no more than 10 ounces (296 milliliters) of wine daily for men under age 65. More than this may increase the risk of health problems, including increased risk of certain types of cancer.
If you're unable to limit your alcohol intake to the amounts defined above, if you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, or if you have liver disease, refrain from drinking wine or any other alcohol. Also keep in mind that red wine contains compounds that may trigger migraines in some people.

In Summary

The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle that really supports health and longevity. There are many cookbooks to help you adapt your meals to these suggestions. Look Here:


Here are some guidelines to get you going:
  • Eat an abundant array of vegetables and fruits — and switch to whole grains. A variety of plant foods should dominate your plate. Try to have three fourths of the "real estate" on your plate occupied by fruits and veggies. They should be fresh, and ideally in season. Strive for seven to 10 servings a day of veggies and fruits. Switch to whole-grain bread and cereal, and begin to eat more whole-gain rice and pasta products. Cut the white flour products out of your meals. Keep baby carrots, apples and bananas on hand for quick, satisfying snacks. Fruit salads are a wonderful way to eat a variety of healthy fruit.
  • Find a Great Fish Market. Eat fish two to four times a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grilled and baked fish cook in minutes. Avoid fried fish, the benefits of Omega 3's are lost when the fish is fried
  • Olive Oil not butter. Try olive oil as a healthy replacement for butter and get rid of margarine. Use olive oil in cooking. After cooking pasta, add a touch of olive oil, some garlic and green onions, and a small handful of parmesan for flavoring. Dip bread in flavored olive oil or lightly spread it on whole-grain bread for a tasty alternative to butter. Try tahini (blended sesame seeds) as a dip or spread for bread too.
  • Go nuts. Keep almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts on hand for a quick snack. Choose natural peanut butter, rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Try tahini (blended sesame seeds) as a dip or spread for bread. An incredible treat is a pitted date, stuffed with tahini, sprinkled with sea salt...
  • Spices replace salt. Herbs and spices make food tasty and are also rich in antioxidants and healthy aging compounds. Season your dishes with herbs and spices rather than salt.
  • Limit red meat. Substitute fish and poultry for red meat. When eaten, make sure it's lean and keep portions to about 4 ounces. Also be very sparing with sausage, bacon and other cured high-fat meats. Pork is the most inflammatory of all protein sources.
  • Choose less and only low-fat dairy. Limit higher fat dairy products such as whole or 2 percent milk, cheese and ice cream. Switch to skim milk, fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese. Eat Goat cheese.
  • Vino, Grape or Pomegranate Juice. If alcohol isn't an issue for you have a glass of wine at dinner. If you don't drink alcohol, Purple grape juice has the same antioxidant benefits as wine. Pomegranate juice is a delicious lower sugar alternative.

February is Heart Month....

Although heart health risks, including high blood pressure, stroke and high cholesterol, are the top health concern for many people, people still struggle to incorporate “heart-healthy” foods into their diet. For example, while eight out of 10 in the US are aware of the relationship between omega-3s and heart health, less than half (48 percent) of Americans are currently consuming omega-3s for this benefit.

A diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can help reduce your risk for heart disease…think more fruits and vegetables, less burgers and fries…and along with the fruits and veggies…look for while grains and fiber…so we are talking about a diet like the Mediterranean Diet.
Foods that promote heart health include:

Nuts: As a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fat, nuts are a powerhouse food that can promote heart health. Almonds and hazelnuts are also high in vitamin E, which helps promote the function of a healthy cardiovascular system.

“Heart Healthy” Fats: Both monounsaturated fat (olive oil, walnuts, avocado) and the Omega 3’s may help promote heart health. Salmon, sardines, herring, trout and tuna are terrific sources of omega-3 fatty acids,as are some eggs.

Soy Protein: Getting your daily protein from soy sources can also help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Look for soy protein in nutrition bars, fortified soy beverages, tofu, soy cheese and edamame or try adding soy protein to your favorite smoothie.

Sterols and Stanols: These plant-based food components help block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. They are found in foods like corn, soy, wheat and some fortified foods like soft table spreads, orange juice and yogurt.

Dark Chocolate: Some dark chocolates can contain helpful components called flavanols. These cocoa-derived flavanols have been shown to help support the cardiovascular system, which helps move blood to and from the heart. When included in moderation, dark chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

Red wine and something in red wine called resveratrol might be heart healthy. The studies supporting red wine suggest antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. These antioxidants come in two main forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids.
Flavonoids. These antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, including oranges, grape juice, apples, onions, tea and cocoa. Other types of alcohol, such as white wine and beer, contain small amounts, too, but red wine has higher levels.These are just a few of the many healthful foods and food components that can promote heart health.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recipe for Happiness..to sweeten up your day...hangs in my kitchen and never fails to make me smile...

Combine 4 parts of Contentment, 2 parts Joy & 1 part Pleasure. But these ingredients must be grown in one's own garden.
Sometimes they may be obtained of a good friend.
So procured, a fair return must be made else happiness spoils and becomes trouble.
Sometimes Discontent and Ambition have been combined in a desire to obtain Happiness but Fame and Wealth have resulted and persons who have tasted these say they are inferior substitutes...
         ~ Mary Englebreit

If you love Mary's work as much as I do..check out Amazon's Mary Englebreit Page