March Nutrition Nuggets



The health headlines were varied this past month. They made for interesting reading. Let us explore what the new trend is ūüôā ; what’s new at EWG; and what studies scientists & researchers have published. “Inquiring minds want to know!” I have also included some new recipes at the end of the post.¬†

Fooducate:¬†New Trend: Shop with your Doc¬†“California is the trend-setter when it comes to food, nutrition and health. It’s no surprise then, to learn about a new program whereby doctors in white coats greet shoppers at a supermarket and help advise on healthier food choices. Many grocery chains have already implemented dietitian guidance into their stores, but medical doctors are a novelty.

On one hand, this makes a lot of sense. Most Americans get their nutrition advice from their doctor, not dietitians. If doctors can prescribe “food as medicine” instead of more pills, everyone wins (expect for the pharma industry). By changing health care systems into “health systems” where the focus is prevention of disease instead of fixing things after they break, the US can save hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

However, there is a problem with doctors prescribing nutrition advice. The vast majority of physicians receive almost no nutrition education when in medical school. They often provide generic advice such as “lose weight, exercise more, and stop smoking”. Dietitians are much better suited to help people in the trenches, with practical advice on specific food choices in the supermarket. If you are trying to lose weight and improve your health, consider getting advice from a registered dietitian.”¬†I agree. A dietitian¬†can be compared to a physician with a specialty; more knowledgeable¬†about the subject. A Board Certified Oncology Dietitian¬†is even better & becoming easier to find in large medical centers.

This new trend didn’t just bring a smile to my face but made me laugh visualizing¬†a physician in a white coat wandering the isles of Ralph’s grocery store!¬†This is the program that Fooducate based their information on.¬†Food As Medicine: It’s Not Just A Fringe Idea Anymore:¬†“Several times a month, you can find a doctor in the aisles of Ralph’s market in Huntington Beach, Calif., wearing a white coat and helping people learn about food. On one recent day, this doctor was Daniel Nadeau, wandering the cereal aisle with Allison Scott, giving her some ideas on how to feed kids who studiously avoid anything that tastes healthy.” Read the article & one mothers reaction to his advice. It is an interesting idea & I applaud their efforts to try to help people on the spot to learn how to eat healthier; thus reversing some¬†diseases that respond to diet.¬†

¬†NPR’s article:¬†Eating More ‚ÄĒ Or Less ‚ÄĒ Of 10 Foods May Cut Risk Of Early Death¬†confirms, yet again, what we have been discussing on this website.Scientists at Tufts University identified the foods that seem to contribute the most to the risk. At the top of the list? Salt. Consuming too much salt was associated with 9.5 percent of the deaths.¬†Just saw an article this morning that another study has found that too much salt means getting up at night to pee ūüôā Check your salt intake!

Next ‚ÄĒ and I sympathize with all of you who love to eat these ‚ÄĒ high intake of red meat and processed meats such as bacon was linked to 8 percent of the deaths. And sugary drinks were a factor in 7.4 percent of the deaths.¬†We know, it may be tough to cut back on foods you love. Bacon is so alluring to many that it has even been called the ‘gateway’ to meat for vegetarians!¬†

But, here’s the flip side: The researchers also found there’s a significant risk in eating too little of certain healthy foods. So, think of it this way: You can start consuming more of the foods that are protective.¬†For instance, the study found that low consumption of nuts and seeds was linked to about 9 percent of deaths.

In addition, diets low in seafood, whole grains and fruits and vegetables were found to contribute to about 6-8 percent of the deaths.¬†Think about this with some of the fad diets. A balanced diet using all the food groups is so important. It is the only way to get all the nutrients your body needs. Cut out one group or eat less of it & you are cutting out nutrients that the other groups don’t have.¬†

EWG, my favorite website, has a new section: Rethinking Cancer  We all know that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are healthier for us than those dependent on processed foods loaded with added fats and sugars. But, did you know healthy diets can actually help fight against the development of several common cancers?

Produce and whole grains, and the nutrients they contain are good for us ‚Äď but why and how do these food help defend against cancer? How can you make the most of their beneficial properties? Use our resources…….”

Their resources include a Nutrition Calculator for Cancer Prevention¬†:¬†“Are you eating enough of the foods most likely to help lower your cancer risk? …A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of cancer. See how your diet stacks up. Use our calculator to find out.”¬†Try it!

This is a “bookmark-able” addition to your resources for a healthy lifestyle.¬†

I looked at several headlines about this study & felt that they were misleading. Tech Times: Components In Soy Products Slow Growth Of Breast Cancer Cells, New Study Finds The study found that: The decrease in risk was largely limited to patients with hormone receptor-negative tumors and women who have not undergone anti-estrogen therapy.

“Based on our results, we do not see a detrimental effect of soy food intake among women who were treated with endocrine therapy,” said¬†Dr. Zhang.¬†She added that soy food products can act as a shield for women diagnosed with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. A weaker but significant association was also observed among women who did not undergo endocrine therapy treatment.”¬†The study is talking about patients with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer & those who have not undergone anti-estrogen therapy.

If you read just the title of the article you think soy is okay for everyone. The article doesn’t mention what types of soy products they were using in the study or if they isolated the isoflavons for the study. Makes a huge difference. I agree with the last paragraph:¬†“Although the research provides positive results pertaining to consumption of soy-based products by breast cancer patients, Kathy Chapman, chair at Cancer Council Australia warned women to be cautious¬†as the “jury is still out.”¬†

This article reports the study more accurately:¬†Tufts University:¬†Isoflavones in Food Associated with Reduced Mortality for Women with Some Breast Cancers¬†“‚ÄúSince we only examined naturally occurring dietary isoflavone, we do not know the effect of isoflavone from supplements. We recommend that readers keep in mind that soy foods can potentially have an impact, but only as a component of an overall healthy diet,‚ÄĚ ¬†Too many variables for me. I still recommend being cautious with soy, especially supplements & products that are processed.¬†

USA Today:¬†Strawberries and these other foods have the most pesticides¬†¬† ¬† “Just about all the samples of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples¬†contained pesticide residue, the analysis found. The most contaminated of the strawberries had 20 different pesticide types.”¬†This article is based on the EWG’s 2017 “Dirty Dozen List”¬†

This is a very good article to read. This paragraph still amazes me.¬†The Alliance for Food and Farming, which represents organic and non-organic growers, is opposed to the EWG’s list. The alliance’s Executive Director Teresa Thorne said the list has been “discredited” and dissuades people from eating fruits and vegetables.

“If EWG truly cares about public health,” Thorne said, “it will stop referring to popular produce items that kids love as ‘dirty’ and move toward positive, science based information that reassures consumers and promotes consumption.”¬†I wonder what word they would use. Bad? Tainted? Toxic? I can’t think of a positive word to describe foods with 20 different pesticide residues on it.¬†

The article that required me to read over & over again & then ponder its content is about the reason people join the diet culture. It is a long read but definitely worth it. Not all of you will appreciate this article as I did. I often wonder about what drives us to go on a fad diet just because a celebrity endorses it or a friend, worse yet, a stranger swears it will cure what ails you, instead of sticking to a simple plant based, balanced diet. I have been as guilty of this as you have. So what is the reason? 

Basically this article is about our quest for immortality. We aren’t eating just to survive anymore, we are chasing the dream of being immortal¬†or at least to extend our life.¬†

The Atlantic:¬†Eating Toward Immortality¬†“Nutrition is a young science that lies at the intersection of several complex disciplines‚ÄĒchemistry, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, psychology‚ÄĒand though we are far from having figured it all out, we still have to eat to survive. When there are no guarantees or easy answers, every act of eating is something like a leap of faith…….By creating and following diets, humans not only eat to stay alive, but they fit themselves into a cultural edifice that is larger, and more permanent, than their bodies. It is a sort of immortality ritual, and rituals must be performed socially. Clean eating rarely, if ever, occurs in secret. If you haven‚Äôt evangelized about it, joined a movement around it, or been praised publicly for it, have you truly cleansed?”

Later in the article:¬†“The act of ingestion is embroidered with so much cultural meaning that, for most people, its roots in spare, brutal survival are entirely hidden. Even for people in extreme poverty, for whom survival is a more immediate concern, the cultural meanings of food remain critical. Wealthy or poor, we eat to celebrate, we eat to mourn, we eat because it‚Äôs mealtime, we eat as a way to bond with others, we eat for entertainment and pleasure. It is not a coincidence that the survival function of food is buried beneath all of this‚ÄĒwho wants to think about staving off death each time they tuck into a bowl of cereal? Forgetting about death is the entire point of food culture.”¬†

I haven’t decided if I totally agree or disagree with this article. It certainly presents an interesting premise. No matter, it is thought provoking, and I enjoy anything that makes me think the subject through. Let me know your thoughts.

Next week I want to tackle the research connecting a gluten-free diet with the risk of diabetes. Is there really a link? Until then….Mary ūüôā

New Recipes: Fresh greens at your local farmers market beckon!

  • Ordinary Vegan: Top 5 Oil-free Salad Dressing Recipes¬†“I love oil-free salad dressing recipes. While some oils may be healthier than store bought commercial salad dressing, oil-free salad dressing¬†can provide just as much flavor without all the fat.”
  • Ordinary Vegan:¬†One-Pot Tomato Basil Spinach Pasta¬†“I ran across this recipe from a friend of mine. I was very skeptical. One-pot vegan tomato basil spinach pasta? Impossible. I thought something won’t taste right.¬†To my surprise, I was 100% wrong. This one pot pasta was delicious and so easy to make.
  • Epicurious: 14 Main Course-Worthy Vegetarian Salads¬†These salads are very versatile. You can add hard-boiled eggs or a portion of chicken, turkey or fish to them. Perfect for a brunch or a main course for dinner.