Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Foods and Herbs to Improve Memory

Ginkgo biloba has numerous applications ranging from enhancing brain function to deceasing the effects of cognitive decline in the elderly. One reason why Ginkgo may have a large range of effects on the body may lie in its anti-inflammatory properties. In a study that explored endothelial cell dysfunction, researchers found that Ginkgo biloba was able to protect endothelial cells from oxidized proteins (oxLDL) by reducing the amount of reactive oxygen species and enhancing AMPK pathways.

This could be one reason why some of the long  term studies on the elderly have found a decrease in cognitive decline. In a 20 year population based study on 3,612  people aged 65 or more, researchers found a lower rate of decline in the participants who took Ginkgo biloba extract.

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Coconut oil is rich in medium-chained-triglycerides (MCTs), which your body and your brain prefers to use for energy. Coconut oil has surged in popularity in recent years, with good cause. It is ant-viral, ant-microbial, and anti-fungal. It is also extremely versatile, it can be used in cooking, baking, in smoothies, and even to make your own antioxidant chocolate.
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Avocados monounsaturated fat plumps up cell membranes and protect the cells from free radical damage. This wonderful vegetable has received a bad rap for too many years. This is a healthy fat, unlike trans fats, which can slip into the cell membranes, but which do not have the ability to help the cells move nutrients in and wastes out.
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Wild salmon, which also provides the fat needed for the phospholipid bilayer around our cells, has omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These are long chain fatty acids and they have been the subject of a great deal of research. Improvements in mood disorders such as depression, cognition, and autoimmune disease have all been noted. Other fatty fish like anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, and sardines also have EPA and DHA, as does fish oil.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reducing Levels of Inflammation for Healthy Aging

Making some dietary changes to include more whole foods and less sugar and trans-fats is a great starting point for someone interested in reducing the likelihood of developing chronic inflammatory disease. Changing your diet will not cause the problems associated with the use of commonly prescribed medications.
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For instance, in the past people were told to change their eating habits in order to avoid the symptoms of GERD. However with the advent PPIs that is no longer necessary. The problem with PPIs is that you need to have stomach acid. It cleans your food, and keep you from developing dysbiosis. Stomach acid is necessary to properly break down your food to get the nutrients you need.

Chronic diseases are also linked to use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These include an increased possibility of developing upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding, and increased cardiovascular risks. The damage to the gastrointestinal tract can be quite severe. The types of damage seen include perforation, obstruction, and bleeding of upper and lower gastrointestinal tract as well as clinically significant anemia.

The risk of developing cardiovascular disease is dependent on the type of medication prescribed. Rofecoxib and Diclofenac have been associated with increased cardiovascular disease, Naproxen appears to be a safer choice. A recent meta-analysis found that NSAIDs double the risk of heart failure, but Naproxen did not significantly increase the risk of heart failure.
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An integrative approach includes, once again, changes to the diet, inclusion of supplements and herbs, as well as exercise. Complementary and alternative treatments for osteoarthritis can have fewer side-effects than those seen in traditional western treatment treatments. We are what we eat right down to our cells and without the proper fuel the cardiovascular system, digestive system and our metabolic pathways will be seriously affected.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Do We Really Have to Walk Down that Long Slow Path to Fragility and Cognitive Decline?

Most people do think of the aging process as the inevitable march toward physical and cognitive decline. But that doesn't have to be the case. Numerous studies find that people eating a largely plant based diet have lower rates of neurological impairment, heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer. This is due in part to these people having lower levels in inflammation throughout their bodies.
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A cross sectional study of 1898 women aged 18-75 y from the Twins UK registry found that a diet high in flavanones, anthocyanins, and flavonols, led to a decrease in arterial stiffness, central blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Where are these mysterious compound found? Flavanones are in parsley, peppers, apples and watermelon. Anthocyanins can be found in berries, bananas, pears, cabbage and garbanzo beans. There are flavonols in onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and quinoa.
Green smoothies are not a youth elixir, but a high fiber plant based diet does lead to better health. People who consume a lot of fiber carry fewer toxins. This is because toxins bind to fiber and the body is then able to excrete them.
 More fiber in your diet also feeds your microbiome. Fiber is considered a prebiotic. Prebiotics feed probiotics. The greater the variety of probiotics, or microbes in your microbiome the better your overall health will be.

Over the next few days we'll take a look at some strategies that can help keep our bodies in the best possible condition.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Eating with the Seasons, Winter Foods

The colder months of winter necessitate heavier, more nutrient dense meals. This is the time of year when we use all the wonderful foods we were able to freeze, dehydrate, and ferment. Proteins, grains, casseroles, soups and stews will provide the reserves your body needs to stay warm this time of year.

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Root vegetables keep very well. These can continue to be dug out of your garden until the ground freezes. These include:

Carrots which of course are known for providing beta carotene an A vitamin. They provide 428% of your recommended daily value in fact. They are also high in pectin, so like apples they’re great food for your microbiome.

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Potatoes can be used to treat hyperacidity in the stomach. This is due to the starch and mucilaginous polysaccharides. They are very high in vitamins C, B6, niacin, folate, and potassium.

Many greens continue to grow past the first frost. It takes a little extra work to cover them, but if you have a garden you can continue to harvest some leafy greens like swiss chard, spinach, and kale well into December in the Northeastern US. These provide an abundance of vitamins A, C, and K.

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You can consider adding sprouts to your diet once the ground has frozen solid. These can be kept on your kitchen counter, so you can remember to rinse them daily. They come in a wide variety that include alfalfa, radish, lentil, clover, broccoli, and buckwheat. These are extremely nutrient dense providing minerals and vitamins and bioflavonoids.

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Fermented foods make an excellent addition to your winter diet. As you begin eating heavier foods, the micro-organisms in fermented foods can help with the digestion of these meals.

Most people gain a few pounds during the winter months. This is why switching to a lighter diet during the warm months is important. Without this transition the winter pounds will add up year after year. Seasonal eating provides the balance to keep your body healthy regardless of the season.