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A healthy diet can help you look years younger

Posted: Monday, May 25, 2015 12:01 am

A healthy diet can help you look years younger


Here’s a new reason to eat more oily fish, fruits and vegetables to keep your heart healthy: Having a healthier heart may help you look younger. When researchers showed people photos of women about 60 years of age, they thought the women with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease looked two years younger compared to those with a higher risk.

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Vegan Diet Eases Nerve Pain of Diabetes


A salad with tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives

For people with diabetes, switching to a plant-based diet may ease the searing nerve pain that can come with the condition, and perhaps reduce their risk of losing a limb, a small pilot study has found.

More than half of adults with Type 2 diabetes may develop diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage resulting from poor blood circulation and high levels of glucose in the blood, previous studies have shown. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to ulcers and other infections on the legs and feet, and is the primary cause of limb amputation for people with diabetes.

There’s no cure for diabetic neuropathy; doctors usually treat the pain with medication and advise the patient to remain vigilant about cleaning wounds to prevent infections.

Now, in a new study that builds on previous work suggesting that a plant-based, vegan diet can be as effective as medication for treating diabetes, researchers placed 17 overweight adults with diabetic neuropathy on a 20-week low-fat diet that emphasized fresh vegetables and high-fiber, complex carbohydrates such as beans and whole grains. The participants also attended weekly nutrition classes and took a vitamin B12 supplement, a nutrient that is important for proper nerve function but found naturally only in animal products. [5 Diets That Fight Diseases]

Compared with a control group of 17 adults who received B12 supplements but maintained their current, non-vegan diet, the group on the vegan diet reported significant improvements in pain relief. Tests also revealed improved circulation and nerve function, and these participants lost, on average, 14 pounds.

Many people in this intervention group also saw improvements in their bodies’ ability to control their levels of glucose, or blood sugar, which then allowed them to lower the dose of their diabetes medication.

The study appears today (May 25) in the journal Nutrition Diabetes and was led by doctors and nutritionists at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit organization that promotes preventive medicine and a vegan diet.

“We hypothesize that by increasing your insulin sensitivity and improving blood sugar levels, you are allowing your body time to fix the nerve damage,” said Cameron Wells, a registered dietitian at PCRM and one of the authors of the study.

Wells described blood with high glucose levels as being “thick” and unable to deliver nutrients to nerve endings.

Normally, glucose is obtained from carbohydrates; and the hormone insulin, secreted by the pancreas, ferries glucose into cells, where it is used as fuel. But in people with Type 2 diabetes, insulin cannot efficiently ferry glucose from the blood into cells for reasons not entirely understood. Thus, the blood becomes laden with glucose.

Maintaining a healthy glucose level is called glycemic control.

“Glycemic control has been shown to prevent development and/or progression of diabetic neuropathy,” Dr. David Simpson, a professor of neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who did not work on the study, wrote to Live Science in an email. “Furthermore, diet and exercise programs, with goal of weight loss, assist in glycemic control and amelioration in progression of diabetic neuropathy.”

A study published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at George Washington University found that lifestyle changes — diet and exercise — were twice as effective at controlling diabetes than the leading diabetes drug, metformin.

Many of the participants in the new study told the researchers they were impressed by how quickly they lost weight and improved their glycemic control on the plant-based diet, Wells told Live Science.

“It’s always so rewarding to see [our patients’] reactions, because it’s indicating ‘I really am doing something that seems to be working,'” Wells said.

However, the new study was limited in that the researchers could not determine which element of the low-fat, plant-based diet led to the observed improvements. It could be that merely losing weight — albeit no easy task for many — was the main contributor to neuropathy pain reduction, the researchers wrote.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual direct cost of diabetes treatment is more than $175 billion. In the new study, the researchers noted that the cost of a diet rich in leafy greens and other plant foods is well within reach of most budgets.

Follow Christopher Wanjek @wanjek for daily tweets on health and science with a humorous edge. Wanjek is the author of “Food at Work” and “Bad Medicine.” His column, Bad Medicine, appears regularly on Live Science.

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YOUR STORY: Govt to cut program that keeps Jayden alive

MY son Jayden Driussi, now 13, was just 9 months old and in liver failure when he was diagnosed with a rare Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM) – Tyrosinemia Type 1 or HT1.

Jayden and other children with Tyrosinemia cannot break down the amino acid Tyrosine.

He is treated with a very restricted low protein diet using special medically modified foods, a prescribed medical dietary supplement that is designed to replace protein and nutrients most people get from food, as well as prescribed medication.

PETITION TO HELP JAYDEN AND OTHER KIDS WITH HIS CONDITION

Without proper management, tyrosine and its by-products build up in tissues and organs, causing serious health problems such as liver cancer.

If Jayden had not been diagnosed and his condition not managed, he would not be here alive with us today, through proper management he is a happy, healthy 13-year-old who enjoys sports and hanging out with his friends.

Tyrosinemia is a lifelong disorder and for sufferers there is no margin for error with their diet.

The restriction on Jayden is profound.

Imagine a day where you cannot eat meat, fish, any dairy products, nuts, seeds, legumes and most other processed packaged foods including bread, pasta, cereal and flour.

This is Jayden’s diet every day, the only way we can fill him up is with specially made low protein products.

These special medical foods are extremely expensive to buy.

For example a loaf of low protein bread costs $10 and only has 10 small slices, Jayden being a teenage boy easily eats 2 sandwiches for lunch (that’s nearly half of the loaf of bread).

A 375g box of cereal is $14.95 (this usually only last 2-3 breakfasts), a 500g box of pasta is $10. The food is approximately 7 times more expensive than regular food.

Since 2001 the Federal Government had assisted families with a monthly food grant (IEM Grant) to help cover the cost of sustaining the complex and expensive diet that includes specialised low protein foods.

Jayden is the second eldest person alive in Australia living with his condition, before this time the proper management of his condition was not available and resulted in premature death. Jayden is living testament of the importance of dietary management of this condition.

But now we have been told that this essential food grant will no longer be available after the Federal Government announced they would cease funding the program by the end of the year.

I am quite shocked by the government’s decision, as we don’t get much other assistance from the Federal Government.

We travel interstate with Jayden to see specialists for management of his condition but his much needed medication is funded by the State Government, which means I then have to make extra appointments with a local paediatrician to get a prescription to ensure the correct state is paying for his medication.

All of these extra appointments add up to extra costs for us.

The impact on losing this food grant is huge, on us and other people living with these disorders, because without these medical foods children simply won’t develop properly or in some cases even survive.

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An excerpt from the budget papers reads ‘low protein foods are now much more readily available and at lower cost’.

This simply is not true, there are only three suppliers of low protein foods in Australia, all of which only have a very limited range of products.

In my 12 years of purchasing these products for my son, they have not gotten any cheaper, in fact, if we factor in the costs of shipping, then the prices for us and other people like us who live in a rural area, have increased significantly.

It costs us $50 just in shipping costs to get 1 bag of cheese and 1 packet of cheese slices delivered from the supplier in Melbourne.

The management of this condition is a miracle of modern medicine and any move to cut funding would be incredibly short-sighted when you weigh up the long-term costs to the government if this condition is not managed correctly.

Without this funding, we will not be able to effectively manage and prevent the side effects of Jayden’s disorder. Taking away this funding is going to take away my sons quality of life.

I am confident that if the government realises the severity of these low protein diets and the role the IEM grant plays in keeping kids like Jayden healthy, they will not hesitate in saving the program.

I am appealing to the Government to urgently reconsider this decision.

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Ask a Scientist: Can balancing body chemistry help you lose weight?

Elisabetta Politi is a registered dietician and nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, in Durham. Here she describes the rationale behind diets based on balancing your body’s pH and whether they are likely to help you get ready for bathing suit season. Questions and answers have been edited.

Q. Diet systems like Isagenix that promise to help people lose weight by putting their body in an “alkaline state” are very trendy right now. What is an alkaline state?

A. You might remember the pH scale from high school chemistry. Essentially, the pH refers to the number of hydrogen ions in a solution – more hydrogens make it more acidic, less hydrogens make it more basic or alkaline. Readings on the pH scale below 7.0 are acidic; those 7.0 and above are alkaline. In its natural state, human blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH ranging from 7.35 to 7:45.

Q. These diets often refer to “acid ash” or “alkaline ash” – what do those terms mean?

A. Ash refers to any inorganic material, such as minerals, present in food. It’s called ash because it is the residue that remains after heating removes water and organic material such as fat, protein and carbohydrates. The ash material in animal products and grains is acidic, while the ash in fruits and vegetables is alkaline. “Acid ash” and “alkaline ash” diets are based on the belief that you can change the pH of your blood, and that will yield certain health benefits.

Q. How does the pH of our bodily fluids, such as our urine and blood, affect our health and propensity to develop disease? What (if anything) does it have to do with diet and metabolism?

A. It has been suggested by lay literature and many online sites that an alkaline diet may improve the ratio between sodium and potassium ions in the body, which could benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting and mitigate other diseases like hypertension and strokes. To my knowledge, there are no studies suggesting that an alkaline diet affects metabolism.

Q. How do our bodies become more acidic or more alkaline?

A. Our body pH varies considerably from one area to another. For example, the stomach is acidic to aid digestion and protect against harmful microorganisms. Blood pH is tightly controlled at about 7.4. The human body has an amazing ability to maintain a steady pH in the blood, mainly through the work of our kidneys and lungs. The food you eat can change the pH of your urine, but not the pH of your blood. Changing your blood’s pH would actually be quite harmful to your organs. Eating fruits and vegetables could make the urine more alkaline, whereas eating grains and meats could make it more acidic.

Q. Is there any scientific evidence to support the use of alkaline diets? If people lose weight on such diets, what is the likely cause, if not changing internal pH?

A. The alkaline diet, with its emphasis on fruits and vegetables and limits on the grains and meats that are the main sources of calories in the typical American diet might have some value in reducing obesity and chronic disease. However, the health benefits of these diets reside in cutting down calories and eating healthier foods, not in changing the internal blood pH.

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Thousands surround Diet to protest Futenma base relocation plan

Thousands of demonstrators formed a human chain around the Diet on Sunday to protest efforts to build a replacement facility for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa.

The protesters, who organizers said numbered about 15,000, surrounded the building while holding banners reading “No to Henoko,” in yet another rally against the contentious base.

Henoko is a small coastal area on Okinawa where Tokyo and Washington plan to relocate the existing Futenma facility, which sits further south in built-up Ginowan.

“We must stop this construction,” said one of the protesters, Akemi Kitajima, 66.

“The government is trying to force the plan no matter how strongly Okinawa says ‘no’ to it.”

Okinawa is home to more than half of the 47,000 U.S. service personnel stationed in Japan as part of the bilateral security alliance, a ratio many residents say is too high.

The plan to move Futenma, first mooted in 1996, has become the focus of anger among local residents, who insist it should be shuttered and kicked out of the prefecture or overseas.

But both Tokyo and Washington have repeatedly backed the plan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month insisting it was “the only solution.”

On Sunday, the protesters also expressed opposition to Washington’s plan to deploy CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo.

The hybrid tilt-rotor transport aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter but can cruise like a conventional airplane, making it faster than typical choppers. More than two dozen were recently deployed at the Futenma base, prompting additional protests from residents concerned about its checkered safety record, recently underlined by a fatal crash this month on Oahu.

Sunday’s rally comes a week after 35,000 people on Okinawa, led by the anti-base governor, held a rally to protest the Futenma relocation plan.

5 Health Benefits of the Nordic Diet

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The latest “diet” to appear in the media is called the Nordic diet.

Proponents of this diet claim that you can improve your health by eating “Nordic” foods.

These are the traditional foods commonly eaten by people in the Nordic countries.


The Nordic diet emphasizes locally grown and sustainable food sources, with a heavy focus on foods considered healthy according to “mainstream” nutrition science. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Several studies have shown that the Nordic diet can cause weight loss and improve health markers, at least in the short-term (1, 2).

This eating pattern is also supported by the fact that obesity rates in the Nordic countries are much lower than in the U.S. (3).

This article explains everything you need to know about the Nordic diet. What to eat, what to avoid, health benefits, a research review and numerous tips.

What is The Nordic Diet?

As the name suggests, the Nordic diet is a way of eating that focuses on the traditional foods of the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland).

The Nordic diet was created in 2004 by a group of nutritionists, scientists and chefs, in order to address growing obesity rates and unsustainable farming practices in the Nordic countries.

Compared with an average Western diet, it contains less sugar, less fat, twice the fiber, and twice the fish and seafood (4).

Foods to Eat and Avoid

The Nordic diet emphasizes locally grown and sustainable food sources, with a heavy focus on foods considered healthy according to “mainstream” nutrition science.

  • Eat often: Fruits, berries, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, rye breads, fish, seafood, low-fat dairy, herbs, spices and rapeseed (canola) oil.
  • Eat in moderation: Game meats, free-range eggs, cheese and yogurt.
  • Eat rarely: Other red meats and animal fats.
  • Don’t eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, food additives and refined fast foods.

The Nordic diet is actually very similar to the Mediterranean diet. The biggest difference is that it emphasizes canola/rapeseed oil instead of extra virgin olive oil.

As many critics correctly point out, many of the foods on the “Nordic” diet were actually never eaten in the Nordic countries back in the day.

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