Category Archives: health & nutrition

Boost Your Health with Asparagus

The name Asparagus comes from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and its name in English evolved from “sperage” to “sparrow grass”, and then back to its original name. The slim green rods with its “braised” tips give you a great health boost.

Asparagus contain compounds that can help fight birth defects, heart disease, cancer, support a healthy skin and strengthen your immune system.

Charged with Folate
One of the most important medical discoveries of the 20th century was that the incidence of brain and spiral cord birth defects (called neural tube defects), could be cut in half if women who were of childbearing age, got 400 micro grams of folate a day.

Asparagus are charged up with folate, a B vitamin that is essential to regenerate cells.Five asparagus spears contain 110 micro grams of folate, about 28% of the essential daily value. (DV)  If you’re pregnant, you may want to enjoy a double serving of those green spears.

Pregnant women need 600 micro grams daily, and women who are breastfeeding need 500 micro grams, according to the national Institutes of Health.

Apart from the health benefits for pregnant women, folate also fight heart disease in anyone. Folate may act as a flood gate, controlling the amount of homocycteine, that’s in the bloodstream. Homocycteine is an amino acid that appears to damage the linings of the arteries.) When your folate levels drop, your homocysteine levels rise, which can cause damage to the arteries, supplying blood to your heart and brain.

Research is showing possible connections between folate intake, homocycteine, and the risk of cognitive problems, particularly signs Alzheimer’s disease.

One study on a large group of people found that their risk of Alzheimer’s was
doubled if they had elevated homocysteine levels.

The amount of folate in your diet is also associated with a lower risk of cancer. Studies have shown that people with the most amount of folate in their blood were the ones least likely to develop colon cancer. Asparagus offer powerful protection against cancer.
It contains a number of compounds that essentially double-team cancer-causing substances before they do harm.

Another protective compound in asparagus is glutathione, one of the antioxidants, which is most powerful. It helps to neutralize free radicals, responsible for the development of cancer.
In an analysis of 38 vegetables, freshly cooked asparagus ranked first for its glutathione content.

Ginger, a Sharp Healer

Millions of people worldwide swear by ginger as a healing food, and not without reason.
There is plenty of evidence that this piquant root can help relieve dozens of conditions,including high blood pressure, motion sickness, and other digestive complains, to migraines, nausea, headaches, arthritis, high cholesterol, and even dangerous blood clots.

Motion Sickness
In a Dutch study, researchers tested the effects of ginger on seasick naval cadets and found
that ginger pills reduced the cadets nausea and vomiting, providing relieve for as long as 4 hours. You can also use ginger to help relief a run-of-the-mill upset stomach.
To use ginger against motion sickness, try taking about ¼ teaspoon of fresh or powdered
ginger 20 minutes before getting into a car or on a boat. Repeat every few hours if needed.

Migraines Symptoms
If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from migraine headaches,
ginger may help prevent the pain and the resulting nausea.
In a small study, researchers at the Odense University in Denmark found that ginger may
short-circuit impending migraines without the unpleasant side effects of some migraine-
relieving drugs. It appears that ginger blocks the action of protaglandins, substances that
cause pain and inflammation in blood vessels in the brain.

Arthritis
In a Danish study, researchers studied 56 people who had rheumatoid arthritis or
osteoarthritis, and who treated themselves with fresh or powdered ginger.
They found that ginger produced relief in 55% of people with osteoarthritis and 74%
of those with rheumatoid arthritis.

To soothe arthritis pain, brew a mild tea by putting three or four slices of ginger in
a cup of boiling water. You can also try ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger or about 6
teaspoons of fresh ginger once a day.

Blood clotting
Blood clotting can be a good thing. For example, when you cut your finger, platelets –
components in blood that help it clot – help “stick” the wound together to stop the bleeding and start the healing process.
But theses sticky platelets can also cling to artery walls as well as to each other.
When that happens, clots stop being beneficial and start becoming something to worry about.
Many people take aspirin to help keep their blood clear of clots that could lead to stroke
or heart attacks.
The gingerol in ginger has a chemical structure somewhat similar to aspirin.
Research suggests that getting ginger in the diet may inhibit the production of a chemical
called thromboxane, which plays a key role in the clotting process.

Use ginger fresh and enjoy it often. Make a ginger marinade for meats.
Mix fresh ginger, minced garlic, olive oil, and light soy sauce for a marinade for chicken,beef or fish.

Healthy for Life with a Healthy Heart

Only about 50 years ago, doctors didn’t know what was good for our hearts.
Little attention was paid to diet and even smoking was acceptable by some.

But after almost 50 years, scientists came up with some simple and straight forward answers. Regular exercise is important, of course, and so is staying away from cigarettes.

But by far the most important factor is to have a healthy diet. Eating the right foods is
the most effective way to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, two of the biggest enemies against a healthy heart.

The Bad Fats
Often we take the wrong foods, in particular fats. There are good fats and bad fats.
The bad fats are saturated fats, found in red meat, and butter, It’s incredible dangerous
for the heart. Study after study has shown that the more saturated fat people eat,
the higher their risks for heart disease.
Foods high in saturated fat raise levels of artery-clogging low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fat are often high in cholesterol as well.

The American Heart Foundation recommends that we limit our intake of saturated fat
to less than 7% of our calories each day. For example, if you get 2,000 calories a day,
your upper daily limit for saturated fat is 14 grams.
That means: in addition to eating fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat foods, you could have 3 ounces of extra-lean ground beef which contains 5 grams of saturated fat), a serving
of macaroni and cheese (6 grams), and a half-cup of low-fat frozen yogurt (3 grams).

Another problem fat, called trans fatty acids, has been shown to dramatically increase
the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Trans fatty acids are made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oils to turn the liquid oils into solid fats like margarine and shortening. Ironically, they meant to be a healthy alternative to the saturated fat in butter.
But it appears that trans fatty acids may be even more harmful than saturated fats.
Trans fats raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower the good (HDL) cholesterol,
increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

It’s not only margarine and fried foods that may be a problem. Many cookies, cakes, and
other snack foods contain “partially hydrogenated oil,” which is also high in trans fatty acids.
Because of the health risk, the American Heart Association recommends you limit your
daily intake to less than 1% of your total calories.

Some Better Fats
Some fats are relatively healthful. You can easily recognize them by looking at the “un”
as in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. While theses type of fats are still high in
calories, in small amounts, they play several beneficial roles.
Polyunsaturated fats (found in soy, corn, safflower, sesame, and sunflower oils, as well as
nuts and seeds ) help your body to get rid of newly formed cholesterol, therefore, they
keep cholesterol levels down and reduce cholesterol deposits on artery walls.

Monounsaturated fats also appear to help lower cholesterol levels as long as the rest of
the diet is very low in saturated fats. Although they are a good substitute for saturated fats,
both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats should be used in moderation, because
their high calorie counts can lead to weight gain. No more than 30% of your calories
should come from fat.

Nuts are particularly good sources of these healthful fats. In a study of Seventh-Day
Adventists, researchers found that those who consumed nuts at least four times a week
had almost half the risk of fatal heart attacks of those who rately ate them.

Although the American Heart Association recommends less than 30% of calories from fat,
many health-care professionals, recommend even less.
They tell people to aim for getting about 20 to 25% of total calories from fat, most of which
should be in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

There is yet another kind of healthy fat, perhaps the king of healthy fats, called omega-3
fatty acids. This is found in most fish (but in particularly in oily, cold-water fish) and also
in flaxseed and certain dark greens. Omega-3 can help to prevent clots from forming in the
arteries. In addition, they help lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat that, in large amounts, may raise the risk for heart disease.

Studies show that eating fish twice a week, in particularly salmon, because it contains
high levels of omega-3, can help to keep your arteries clear and your heart working well.
In a stuy done at the Harvard School of Public Health, scientists found that the death rate
from heart disease was 36% lower among people who ate fish twice a week compared
with people who ate little or no seafood. The study, which was published in the American
Medical Association, also showed that overall mortality was 17% lower omong the regular
seafood eaters.

Eat the Right Nutrients when Aging

When we age, we have to eat well and adjust our eating habits. As we get older, our needs for certain nutrients will change significantly. We produce less saliva, and our swallowing reflexes slow down.
As a result, food may not be as easy to digest and to swallow. Many of us experience changes in taste and appetite as we get older, so we may eat less.
We also have less stomach acid, that means, we don’t digest foods or absorb some nutrients as well as we used to.

An Israeli study that looked at 414 elderly patients in hospitals found that less than 20%
were well nourished. The study also found that those with poor dietary habits had less successful outcomes from their visit to the hospital. But even with this information and other studies available, doctors don’t always think to check for nutritional deficiencies in older adults.
This is unfortunately, because a simple lack of nutrients can easy be mistaken for a more serious illness. Nutritional deficiencies in older people can even be misdiagnosed as dementia.

Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining healthy blood and nerve function. It’s also one of
the nutrients that requires adequate amounts of stomach secretions in order to be absorbed.
when acid levels decline, getting enough vitamin B12 can be a problem.
This is of particular concern for people who use antacids. You can get plenty of vitamin B12 from meats and other animal foods. Clams are the best source of vitamin B12.
One small steamed clam provides an astonishing 9 micrograms of vitamin B12, more than
100% of the DV.

Apart from vitamin B12 deficiency, many people in their late fifties and older may be deficient in vitamin B6. Chickpies and potatoes are good sources of vitamin B6.
One cup of chickpeas contains 1.1 milligrams, slightly more than halve of the DV.
A baked potato provides 0.6 milligram, or about 1/3 of the DV.

Another B vitamin that’s important for protecting the cardiovascular and nervous systems
is folate, which is found in green vegetables, beans and whole grains. A cup of canned pinto beans, for example, provides 144 milligrams of folate, or more than 33% of the DV.
Asparagus is also a good source of folate. One cup of cooked asparagus contain
263 milligram of folate.

As your bones get older, it’s essential to get extra calcium and vitamin D to prevent them
from becoming brittle. Many older people think that they can’t eat dairy foods because they are ‘lactose tolerant’, but in fact, most people can eat moderate amounts of dairy without trouble.
Low-fat and fat-free (skim) milk, cheese, and yogurt are your best sources of calcium.
One cup of fat-free yogurt contains 415 milligrams of calcium, or 41% of the DV.
One glass of fat-free milk provides 302 milligrams or 30% of the DV.

Iron is one of several minerals that can be hard to get in the correct amount. Some people
don’t get enough, while others get too much. Women’s need for iron declines in their later years after they stop menstruating.

To ensure that you’re getting the right amount of nutrients for your particular needs, i
t’s best to talk to your doctor to find out whether or not you need to take supplements of certain nutrients, such as iron, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Even though we may need to eat more of certain foods in order to live longer, researchers
are finding that the opposite can also be true: people who eat less may live more years.

A Louisiana State University study followed 48 people for 6 months as they either followed
a normal diet or different types of calorie restricted diets. It found that prolonged
calorie restriction can lower people’s fasting insulin levels and their body temperature,
which are both markers of longevity.

Experts think that calorie restriction “resets” your metabolism so it works more efficiently,
and your body shifts its focus from growth and reproduction to long term survival.
and when you take less calories, your body produces less free radicals as it turns food
into energy.

However, it’s hard for humans to reap the benefits from calorie reduction that lab animals
have shown. For those among us who like to eat, it’s probably not a viable strategy.
In addition, drastically reducing your calories without medical supervision can leave you
malnourished.

For now, a good way to get some benefit from calorie reduction is to make sure that you
eat a “prudent” diet that provide the nutrients you need without excessive calories.
If you do decide to restrict your calories, talk to your doctor to make sure your diet
meets your nutritional needs. See also my article about Flavonoids

 

What is Breast Cancer?

To answer the question “What is breast cancer?”, we have to start with the fundamentals, the smallest parts our bodies are made up with: the human cells.

When we talk about aging, getting sick and getting disease, usually we don’t realize that we don’t, but actually our cells do. The health of our body depends on how healthy our cells are. The human body is made up of about 80 trillion cells.
Those cells continually replicate themselves.
Consequently, to slow down our aging process and limit our change of getting sick we have to protect and feed our cells properly.

Our cells are made up of atoms. If these cells are healthy, they consist of paired electrons. Healthy cells replicate and keep our body young and disease free. But if atoms are missing electrons, they destroy surrounding atoms by “stealing” their electrons. Atoms that are missing an electron are called “free radicals”. Free radicals alter or  destroy cells and
are the cause of premature aging, sickness and disease, like cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and many others.

Every day, the DNA in each cell in your body faces about 10,000 attacks from
cell-damaging free radicals.
Free radicals are naturally produced as your body turns fuel to energy, but you also get them from pollution in air and water, stress, smoking and radiation from the sun.

These volatile molecules cruise around your body trying to stabilize themselves
by stealing electrons from other molecules. When they succeed, they create
still more free radicals, causing a sort of snowballing procession of damage.

Free radicals don’t just occasionally pop up here and there. Up to 5% of the
oxygen that each cell uses is converted into free radicals.

Free radical damage is thought to play a role in the accumulation of low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the lining of your artery walls.
This can lead to a narrowing of the arteries called atherosclerosis, which
contributes to heart disease. And when free radicals damage DNA inside the cells,
it can replicate a damaged cell.The results can be cell mutations that lead to cancer.

Pollution in our environment, pesticides and insecticides used on our land, water treated with chlorine and smoking are sources of free radicals.

So what’s the solution? Fortunately, there are antioxidants who have extra electrons to give away to free radicals, which eliminates their harmful effect and are our body’s defense against the harmful effect of free radicals, causing aging, sickness and disease like cancer.

Cabbage contains an abundance of vitamins, C, E, and carotene and two compounds that studies show can help prevent cancer.
Researchers reviewed almost 100 studies that evaluated the relationship between cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and cancer. They found that in 70% of the studies, cabbage consumption was associated with a lower risk of cancer. Cabbage is particularly effective in preventing breast-, lung-, and prostate cancer.

However, only 2% of these vitamins are present in the average American diet.
Most Americans today don’t eat their cabbage or any other vegetable.The average intake is less than one serving per day of either fruit or vegetables.

The first of these compounds, indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, is especially effective against
breast cancer. The compound acts as an antiestrogen, which means that it sweeps up harmful estrogens that have been linked to breast cancer.

Most breast cancer is linked to deficit in estrogen metabolism.
The under-nourished female body can’t deactivate its estrogen properly. It uses what is called the estradiol 16-alpha hydroxylation pathway, which leaves the hormone still active enough to cause cell transformation in the breast (and reproductive organs).
Over years these cells gradually transform to cancer.The properly nourished female body, however, uses what is called the estradiol 2-alpha hydroxilation pathway, which neutralizes the hormone completely and never leads to breast cancer.

The other compound found in cabbage, called sulforaphane, has been shown to inhibit carcionogens and aid in DNA repair.

Women in Poland eat three times as much cabbage,especially raw cabbage,
as women in the US.
Researchers studied hundreds of Polish women living in the US and found that women who ate four or more servings of cabbage per week while preteens were 72% less likely to develop breast cancer as adults than the women who ate one serving or less of cabbage a week while preteens. Eating lots of cabbage as adults also provided significant cancer protection.

Dr. Donald Malins, a biochemist from Seatle, reported a new method fot identifying structural changes in the DNA of breast tissues. By using an instrument that bounces  infrared radiation off the DNA and by analyzing the signals via a sophisticated computer, he was able to follow the structual damage to the DNA caused by free radicals.

Researchers agree with Malins that the development of cancer is a multistage process that usually takes decades to develop. In adults, cancer may take twenty or even thirty years to develop from the initial mutation of the DNA to its full-blown manifestation. In children, this process may develop more quickly because of their more rapid cell turnover.


Malins noted significant changes within the structure of the DNA as he followed it from normal breast tissue to metastatic breast cancer in all its developmental stages.

Dr Malin believed oxidative stress was the cause of this predictable damage to
the DNA, which eventually led to the formation of breast cancer.
He further argued that cancer was not so much the result of disfunctional genes as it was the result of genetic damage that highly reactive free radicals caused.

For the past forty years, researchers have believed that abnormal genes are the driving force behind all cancers. But now researchers are beginning to believe instead that individuals with certain genes are simply more vulnerable to oxidative stress than others. This may explain the familial patterns of many types of cancer.

Nutritional science offers us the greatest hope in our fight against cancer and
several other degenerative diseases.
They not only help to prevent cancer but may actually enhance the traditional chemo- and radiation therapy.
How can the process of building up the body’s natural defence be bad?
Shouldn’t physicians want their patients to be as healthy as possible,since cancer treatments are going to put patients under the greatest stress they have had to endure in their lives?

Natural antioxidants and their supporting nutrients are the ideal chemo-preventive agents for many reasons.

* They limit and even prevent the free-radical damage to the DNA nucleus of
the cell.
* They provide the proper nutrients needed for the body to repear any damage that has been done already.
* They are save and may be taken over a lifetime. (Pharmaceutical drugs do not share this advantage. Tamoxifen, which has been shown to decrease the risk
of breast cancer, has very serious side effects.)
* They are relatively inexpensive.
* They provide the best defense against further advancement of cancer.
* They protect the body against oxidative stress that chemotherapy and radiation create.
* They support the cancer-fighting ability of chemotherapy and radiation.
* They inhibit the replication and growth of the cancer.
* They have been shown to cause tumor regression in some cases.

We can’t deny that the effectiveness of traditional cancer treatments has reached a plateau. Oncologists and radiation therapists must become more open-minded about antioxidant use in their patients. As researchers seriously consider the use of multiple antioxidants at optimal levels, cancer prevention and treatment may well be revolutionized. In the meantime, the research that is presently available supports the use of antioxidants in all stages of chemo- prevention and cancer therapy.

The CSIRO has given practical guidelines to minimize free-radical damage.
You can read them in my article: How to protect against cancer.

Phytochemicals, compounds to cut cancer and heart risks

INDOLES
Phytochemicals have an important function to prevent some cancers and heart disease .
One of them are called Indoles. You find them in crusiferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and mustard greens. They have a bitter taste that bugs don’t like.
The phytochemical responsible for this way of plant protection is called Indole-3-
carbinol, known by researchers by the nickname I3C.
In humans, this compound plays a role in regulating hormones, which may be useful
in preventing breast cancer.

Researchers at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York City found that when
women took 400 milligrams of I3C a day, about the amount found in half a head of
cabbage, their levels of the harmless estrogen increased significantly.
In fact, they had the same levels as those found in marathon runners, which is quite a
feat, since vigorous exercise has been shown to have a strong positive effect on
estrogen levels. I3C also helps stop tumor cells from spreading to other parts of the body,
Studies also show that I3C may slow the growth and reproduction of prostate-cancer cells.
That’s why you should say yes to broccoli and cabbage.

ORGANOSULFUR COMPOUNDS
Other phytochemicals are organosulfur compounds, called allylic sulfides.
They are one of nature’s most potent compounds to decrease your risks of cancer and heart disease. They also raise good HDL cholesterol and stimulate enzymes that suppress tumors.
You will find them in onions, garlic, also but in lower concentration in leeks and chives.

Allylic sulfides also have the unique potency to keep cholesterol and other blood fats known as triglycerides from causing health-threatening blood clots and hardening of the arteries.
Allicin, which researchers believe to be the most potent compount in garlic, and diallyl
disulphyde also made blood vessels relax, reducing blood pressure and improving bloodflow.
Allicin also has potent germ killing powers. Studies show that it can kill microbes responsible for colds, the flu, tummy viruses, yeast infections, and possibly even tuberculosis.

Other studies have shown that taking two or more servings of garlic per week can help
protect against colon cancer. It can also stop the growth of cancer cells, once they develop.

PHYNOLIC COMPOUNDS
This is another phytochemical, also called polyphenols.You will find them in most fruits,
vegetables, cereal grains, and green and black teas. These compounds fight cancer on two
fronts. They stimulate protective enzymes while squelching harmful ones, and they’re also
havy-duty antioxidants.
Most active polyphenols include ellagic acid from strawberries, green tea polyphenols,
and curcumin, the yellow collering in turmeric.
Curcumin plays a role in cancer prevention because it act as an antioxidant.
It also seems to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent or help to treat Alzheimer’s
disease and arthritis.

SAPONINS
One of the most common phytochemicals are the saponins. You will find them in a wide
variety of vegetables, herbs and legumes, like spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, and oats.
Soy beans alone contain 12 different types of saponins.

Studies show that people who eat saponin-rich diets have consistently lower rates of breast- prostate- and colon cancer,
Unlike other cancer-fighting phytochemicals, however, saponins possess a unique array
of weapons. One way that they help prevent cancer is by binding with bile acids, which
over time may metabolize into cancer-causing compounds, and eliminating them from the
body, says Dr Rao, professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto.

They also stimulate the immune system so that’s better able to detect and destroy precancerous cells before they develop into full-blown cancer.

But perhaps the most important ability of saponins is to target the cholesterol found in cancer cell membranes. Cancer cells have a lot of cholesterol in their membranes, and saponins selectively binds to these cells and destroy them.

Not surprisingly , this ability to bind to cholesterol is helpful for lowering total cholesterol
as well. Saponins bind with bile acids, used for digestion in the intestinal tract.
The bile is then excreted, instead of being reabsorbed. Since bile acids are made of cholesterol, getting rid of some of these acids means that your body has to use up cholesterol to make more, effectively lowering cholesterol levels in the process.
See also my article titled: Phytonutrients, compounds from the garden for good health.

 

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, and sturdy defenders against heart disease and cancer. See also my article titled: Antioxidants in green leafy vegetables
Like carotenoids, flavonoids add color – specifically red, yellow, blue and shades of brown
to the foods we eat and drink.
Present mostly in apples, celery, cocoa, (dark chocolate), cranberries, grapes, broccoli, endive, onions, green and black teas, and red wines.

But experts are beginning to discover that these compounds are doing more.
Some flavonoids make the linings of blood vessels more supple, lowering blood pressure and protecting against a buildup of heart- threatening plague. In one study, grape juice and
chocolate had this effect. Flavovoids also act like Teflon coating for the millions of tiny disks in your blood called platelets. They keep the platelets from clumbing together in the bloodstream and forming clots, which helps prevent heart attacks and stroke.

A recent study at the Harvard Medical School lab has found that one magical flavonoid found in wine and grapes: resveratrol, also lowers blood sugar levels and boosts liver function. In fact, in a group of lucky mice, it increased longevity by 31%.
In one study at the university of Virginia, resveratrol – found in grape skins, raspberries,
mulberries, and peanuts – literally starved cancer cells by interfering with a protein called
nuclear factor-kappa B, that helps food them.

In one Dutch study that examined the eating habits of 800 men, aged between 65 and 84,
researchers found that those who got the least flavonoids in their diets, were 32% more
likely to die from heart attacks than those who ate the most. It didn’t take many flavonoids
to get the benefits. The high-flavonoid group had the equivalent of 4 cops of black tea,
a half cup of apple, and 1//8 cup of onions per day.

When it comes to cancer prevention, flavonoids may help out by influencing cel-signaling
pathways – the way cells turn genes on and off in order to perform thousands of everyday
maintenance activities. Flavonoids may help turn on genes that stop cancer cells from
dividing or invading healthy tissues, or even help activate genes that make cancer cells
commit suicide, say experts from the Linus Pauling Research Institute at Oregon State
University in Corvallis.

In a recent study at the University of California, Los Angeles, those prostate-cancer
survivors who drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily, increased by nearly 4 times
the period during which their PSA levels (prostate specific antigens) a cancer biomaker,
stayed constant. The study even surprised the researchers, who say that the combination
of flavonoids, anti-inflammatory compounds, and antioxidants in pomegranate juice
may be responsible.

Antioxidants in Green Leafy Vegetables

Antioxidants you find in the red of tomatoes and the yellow plant pigments in carrots  are called carotenoids. You also find them in green leafy vegetables They belong to the family of phytonutrients. See also my article: Phytonutrients, compounds from the garden.
These carotenoids are powerful antioxidants to fight against heart disease and certain forms of cancer.

Research has shown promising results from a number of carotenoids, particularly lycopene
(also found in tomatoes), lutein (found in vegetables such as spinach and kale), and
zeaxanthin ( found in dark green leafy vegetables). All three play a powerful role as antioxidants  in cancer prevention.

Researchers in the Tufts University Carotenoids Health Laboratory say: “Skipping fruits &
vegetables is part of the classic “profile” of people who develop cancers of the head and
neck, but that increasing your intake of these antioxidants rich products may cut your risk for recurrence of these cancers.

In one study, researchers found that people in northern Italy who ate seven or more
servings  of raw tomatoes every week  had a 60% lower change of developing colon, rectal,
and stomach cancer than those who only ate two servings or less.

German researchers have found that cooked tomato products containing some oil –
such as spaghetti sauce – boost lycopene absorption dramatically. They believe that
heating  and crushing releases more lycopene, and that the body  needs substances in
oil to  help better absorption.

Harvard researchers, looking at green leafy vegetables, especially spinach, had quite
an eye-opener. They found that people eating the most lutein and zeaxanthin – which
are two carotenoids , powerful antioxidants found in these vegetables – had a 43% lower risk of macular degeneration  than those eating the least.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people  over 50.
Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrate in your retinas and protect them by absorbing
harmful blue-wavelength light found in sunshine.

Other members of the Phytonutrients are: flavonoids, indoles,  lignans, monoterpenes, saponins, organosulfur – and phenolic compounds, which are all powerful antioxidants,
I will discuss in future articles.  If you like to know more about plant-based nutrition,
I refer to : Nutrition studies.org

Phytonutrients: compounds from the Garden for good Health

Within plant foods are thousands of compounds that are taking the diet-disease connection to an exciting new level.Science call these compounds phytochemicals or phytonutrients, that means chemicals or nutrients found in plants.

They are there to help our garden survive and strive.
Potent sulfur compounds in garlic and unions, for instance, act as bug repellents to keep
the vegetables healthy. Other compounds protect plants from bacteria, viruses, and other
natural enemies. When we eat plant foods, these compounds protect us, too – not from
bugs but from the forces that wreak havoc in our bodies.

We have known for many years that we need vitamins and minerals from our food
to maintain good health, and to prevent malnutrition and diseases such as rickets and scurvy. But research revealed that the essential nutrients we all know, such as vitamin A and E, are just the beginning. See also my page: health-and-fitness

Most likely some of these previously unknown compounds will fight not only deficiency-type diseases such as anemia, but also age-related illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

And the research has only begun. Scientists are discovering more phytochemicals all
the time and also ways in which theses compounds fight disease.

Neutralizing Free Radicals

Each member of the large family of phytonutrients work indifferent ways.
However, their most common weapons against disease appear to be their antioxidant
abilities.

Every day your body is under attack by harmful substances known as free radicals.
These are oxygen molecules who have lost an electron, due to pollution, sunlight,
stress, smoking, physical activity, and sunlight. As they attempt to regain there
missing electrons, they travel through your body and stealing electrons from your
body cells and sometimes from your DNA wherever they can.

Unless this chain reaction is stopped, the result is huge numbers of damaged
molecules and, over time, damage and disease.

For example, cholesterol is a useful and helpful substance. But when cholesterol
molecules are damaged by free radicals, they start to stick to the lining of
artery walls, causing hardened arteries and heart disease.

Another example: When free radicals attack molecules in the DNA of your body cells,
the genetic blueprint that tells your cells how to function, is damaged.
This can spark dangerous cell changes that lead to cancer and other diseases.
Even the aging process itself, scientists believe,is caused by free-radical damage.
The powerful antioxidants of phytonutrients in plants can literally save your life.

Essentially, they step between the free radicals and your body’s cells, offering up
their own electrons. When free radicals grab these “free” electrons, they become
stable again and do no further damage. Most phytonutrients are potent antioxidants.

Eliminating Toxic Wastes

Another way phytonutrients keep us healthy is by neutrolizing and flushing
toxic chemicals from our bodies before they make us sick. They do this by
manipulating enzymes known as phase-1 and phase-2 enzymes, explains Gary Stoner, PhD, professor and cancer researcher at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Phase-1 enzymes are like double agents. They are created by your body and are

important for normal cell function. But they also have the ability to work
against you. When cancer-causing toxins enter your system, phase-1 enzymes
help make them active. Phase-2 enzymes, on the other hand, are real good guys.
They seek out carcinogens and detoxify them before they can do damage.

When you eat broccoli or other vegetables, some of the phytoneutrients begin
stomping out the enemy phase-1 enzymes while increasing the production of
helper phase-2 enzymes. This process helps neutralize various cancer-causing
toxins that naturally accumulate in your body.

Regulating Hormones

A third way in which phytoneutrients fend off disease is by keeping certain
hormones – most notably the female sex hormone estrogen – at healthy levels.
Estrogen is “good news” and “bad news” kind of hormone. When it’s produced at
normal levels, it helps control everything, from menstruation to childbirth.
At the same time, it helps keep artery-clogging cholesterol in check, thus
preventing heart disease. When estrogen levels rise, however, they can fuel
hormone-stimulated cancers like breast cancer and cancer of the ovaries,
according to researchers.

There are several ways in which phytoneutrients keep estrogen at proper levels.
For example, a class of phytonutrients called isoflavones is extremely similar

to natural estrogen. When we eat foods containing isoflavones, these faux
hormones bind to the body’s estrogen receptors, leaving the real hormone with
nowhere to go but out.

Although estrogen is often referred to as if it were one hormone, in fact
there are different forms. One kind of estrogen, called 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone,
has been linked to breast cancer. Another form, 2-hydroxyestrone, appears to
be harmless. Certain phytonutrients are able to increase levels of the harmless form of estrogen, while decreasing levels of the dangerous kind.

Eating Your Medicine

From the previously mentioned facts it shows that phytonutrients bring in a diversity of
powerful defences. As a matter of fact, their potential is staggering.
Scientists forecast that in the near future these compounds will be used for treating disease in the hospital and for prevention at home, as was the case with vitamins and minerals.


Till then, scientists emphases that the only way to get the phytonutrients your body needs
is to eat them as Mother Nature brings them. That means eating fruits and vegetables at 
least nine servings per day for good health.
Scientists learn new things every day about this huge class of compounds that the glass
of orange juice contains that you have for breakfast in the morning and in the site salad
at lunchtime.

If you like to know more about plant-based nutrition, visit: http://nutritionstudies.org/

circuit-training

Circuit Training as an Exercise Program

While exercise programs often vary from person to person based on fitness levels and goals, each one should include aerobic exercise, and resistance and flexibility training,
as in Circuit Training.
Those components will help you improve your fitness level and help you overcome obstacles that challenge your agility, balance, coordination, endurance and strength in everyday life. I refer to my article: Activity: Essential prevention against all Diseases

Circuit Training Basics
Looking for a way to infuse your fitness routine with some new energy and excitement? Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just getting started with physical activity, circuit training is a great way to challenge your body in a variety of ways while boosting the fun factor.

What Is Circuit Training?
A typical circuit training workout includes about 8-10 exercise stations. After completing a station, instead of resting, you move quickly to the next station. A muscular strength and endurance circuit alternates muscle groups, such as upper body, lower body and core, so little or no rest is needed in between stations. This article focuses on another form of circuit training: aerobic + strength. This type of circuit alternates 1-2 sets of resistance exercise (body weight, free weights, dumbbells, kettle bells, bands, etc.), with brief bouts of cardiovascular exercise (jogging in place, stationary cycling, rowing, etc.) lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Depending on your goals and the number of circuit stations, you can complete 1 or more circuits in a 30-60 minute session.

Advantages of Circuit Training
Boredom and time constraints are frequently cited reasons for giving up on a fitness routine. Sound familiar? Circuit training offers a practical solution for both. It’s a creative and flexible way to keep exercise interesting and saves time while boosting cardiovascular and muscular fitness. You’ll burn a decent amount of calories too—in a 1-hour circuit training session, a 150-pound person burns about 308 calories at a moderate intensity; and 573 calories at a vigorous intensity. Because the exercises can be performed in any sequence, you can create an endless number of combinations and design every workout to match your mood or specific training goal. Participating in a group circuit-training class is a great way to discover new exercises you might not have tried on your own.

At Home
Set up strength and cardio stations indoors or outdoors. Cardio could include going up and down stairs, marching or jogging in place, running up and down the driveway, using home exercise equipment and jumping rope. For strength stations, do push-ups, planks and lunges, using your own body weight. You can also use dumbbells, bands and Kettle bells. For more ideas, look for a fitness DVD featuring circuit-training workouts.

At the Gym
Check to see, if your gym offers circuit training classes. You’ll need to move quickly from station to station, so it’s tough to do on your own during regular gym hours when others are using equipment. If you’re working with a certified personal trainer, ask for help in building a custom circuit training workout using a variety of equipment.

At the Park
The fitness trail, or parcourse are popular features at many parks across the United States and around the world. This can be considered a form of aerobic + strength circuit training. The parcourse consists of walking trails with exercise stations located along the way. But even if your local park doesn’t have a circuit set-up, you can create your own aerobic + strength circuit by alternating brisk walking, bicycling or running on a trail with push-ups, dips, and squats, incorporating things found in nature, such as a tree, a boulder, or even a park bench.

Turn Up the Heat
If you’ve been doing circuit training for a while and are ready to push harder, try these ideas:
• Shorten your time intervals. If you’re currently doing 2-minute cardio intervals, shorten them by 30 seconds. This will keep you moving faster through the circuit, allowing you to complete more stations in the same amount of time.
• Boost your intensity. If your strength sets are feeling too easy, increase the resistance or choose a different exercise that works the same muscle group. Take your cardio intervals up a notch by accelerating or adding another cardio exercise.
• Do a backward circuit. If you always complete your circuit in the same direction, start at the opposite end to challenge your body and your brain in a new way.