All Posts tagged Diet

Your Diet Can Affect Your Pain and Inflammation

As chiropractors, we often see patients who suffer from chronic pain and other conditions that are caused by inflammation.  One thing that I try to explain to my patients is that for most of their lives they have eaten meals that produce chronic pain for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Most of the meals we eat contain linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found in various oils, grains and packaged foods.  Linoleic acid is converted by our bodies to arachidonic acid, a precursor of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), the primary eicosanoid associated with pain. We also ingest arachidonic acid directly in animal products, particularly in fatty meat, chicken skin and farm-raised fish such as tilapia and catfish.  The more of these types of food that we eat, the more likely we will develop a chronic inflammatory disease including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

The only the only real alternative to chronic inflammation is adopting a lifestyle change.  One such change may be to restore the proper balance of essential fatty acids in the diet.  Too many people have chronic inflammation in their bodies and brains because they are eating too many omega-6 and too few omega-3 fatty acids.  Experts believe that for optimum health we need a 1:1 to 4:1 range of ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, but we are eating a ratio of 20:1 to 30:1.  Excess omega-6 in the diet is pro-inflammatory.

Consumption of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids may decrease chronic pain and inflammation and reduce the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  Research performed by Joseph Maroon, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, showed that 2 g of EPA/DHA daily reduced joint pain and the need for NSAIDs in 59% of patients with neck and low back pain.  According to Dr. Maroon, the omega-3 fatty acids counter to some extent the poisons we put into the body in the form of trans-fatty acids, nitrates, and various chemicals and pesticides from non-organic foods.

While omega-3 acids are contained in green leafy vegetables, flax seed, flax seed oil and canola oil, many patients, especially older adults, need direct marine sources of EPA and DHA, namely fish, seafood, seaweed and fish oils. DHA seems particularly important for cognitive health and the health of the retina of the eye, while EPA may be more important for heart health and for emotional health.  One caution when taking omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, in particular, can have blood-thinning properties, so if you are taking a blood thinner, you need to communicate with your doctors before you increase your consumption of fish oils.

In addition to increasing intake of anti-inflammatory compounds, returning to a healthy diet and nutritional support can help reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases.  From a dietary perspective, we need to eat more low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as lean meat, fish, skinless chicken, vegetables and fruit.  A modest amount of nut intake is also appropriate.  From the perspective of supplementation, the available evidence favors a multivitamin, magnesium, fish oil, vitamin D and probiotics.

A small study showed that a lifestyle modification protocol may be effective in reducing the pain associated with fibromyalgia.  Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, found in his placebo-controlled study that 91 percent of fibromyalgia patients improve, with the majority becoming pain-free, using his SHINE Protocol: Sleep, Hormones, Infections, Nutrition and Exercise.  As part of his protocol, Dr. Teitelbaum advocates eight hours of daily sleep for tissue repair; thyroid and adrenal hormonal support; elimination of infections, including yeast overgrowth; nutritional support through proper diet and supplementation; and exercise.  For those whose pain may prevent them from exercising, he recommends starting a walking program in a warm-water pool.

So if you suffer from a chronic inflammatory condition, you may want to consider making some lifestyle modifications and change what you are eating to see if it helps alleviate some of your pain and inflammation.

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Almonds: Go Nuts

Personally, I’m a big fan of having nuts for a snack.  It provides that saltiness, but not all of the carbohydrates and saturated fat of chips or other typical snack foods.  I’ve always heard that almonds were healthy for you, but I never realized how healthy until I started doing a little research.  They are high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and they are considered one of my most nutritious nuts. The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers.  Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, it bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut. The almond is one of the healthiest snack foods you can eat.  Its health benefits are wide and varied.  Below are some of the health benefits that almonds have:

  1. Helps heart health:  A study showed those who consumed almonds five times a week had a 50% reduction in risk of heart attack.  They have large amounts of vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant and reduces the risk of heart diseases.  Almonds also help reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) which causes artery-damaging inflammation.
  2. Reduces bad cholesterol:  Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fats which help to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol).  A handful every day can lower your bad cholesterol level by 8 to 12 percent.
  3. Improves blood circulation:  Almonds are high in potassium and low in sodium, both are factors that regulate blood pressure.  The high level of magnesium in almonds has a very positive effect on our arteries and veins and helps to improve the overall flow of nutrients through our bodies.  It also contains iron, which helps carry oxygen to all of the body’s cells and organs.
  4. Good source of Protein:  Almonds provide one of the best plant sources of protein.  They provide high quality and highly absorbable protein. A quarter-cup (containing around 30 nuts) contains around 7.6 grams of protein.
  5. Strengthens the bones:  Almonds are a good source of calcium which prevents osteoporosis and strengthens the bones, teeth and muscles.  It also provides other nutrients that help to increase the bone mineral density, which helps to strengthen the skeletal system.
  6. Good for brain power:  The almond is a source of many nutrients which helps in development of the brain development.  I’ve heard it recommended having 5 almonds in the morning everyday for maximum brainpower.  They contain phenylalanine, a brain-boosting chemical, which aids in healthy development of our cognitive functions.
  7. Helps you lose weight:  Almonds have high fiber content, protein and the good type of fat which satisfies your appetite very soon therefore you are less likely to have cravings and overeat.  Studies have revealed that almond rich low calorie diet is good for obese people to assist in shedding their weight.
  8. Good for diabetic people: They are a low glycemic index (GI) food. When eaten with a high GI food, it helps in reducing the rise in sugar and insulin levels after meals.
  9. Reduces the risk of Cancer:  Being high in natural fiber, it improves the movement of food through the colon, thereby preventing colon cancer.  Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, phytochemicals and flavonoids which suppress the growth of cancer cells. It is also rich source of boron which helps to prevent prostate cancer.
  10. Prevents Gallstones: People eating at least 5 almonds a day have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones, a study confirms.  Almond oil also possesses laxative properties and helps to produce soft stools and avoid any constipation.
  11. Good for skin:  An almond face pack prevents dry skin, pimples and black heads and is a good long term cure for acne.  It also improves skin complexion and premature aging. It nourishes the skin making it smooth and soft.
  12. Energy booster:  Nutrients present in almonds like Protein, Manganese, Copper & Riboflavin are all used to generate energy in our body.

So you can see, almonds are a nutritious snack that will have a positive effect on your overall health.  So Go Nuts on Almonds!!!!

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More Healthy Snack Recipes

Because I had such a good response to my previous post on healthy snack recipes, I added some more for you on this post.

Chipotle spiced shrimp

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 32 shrimp)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

Directions

Rinse shrimp in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel and set aside on a plate.

To make the marinade, whisk together the tomato paste, water and oil in a small bowl. Add garlic, chili powder and oregano. Mix well. Using a brush, spread the marinade (it will be thick) on both sides of the shrimp. Place in the refrigerator. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler (grill). Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source .Put the shrimp in a grill basket or on skewers and place on the grill. Turn the shrimp after 3 to 4 minutes. The cooking time varies depending on the heat of the fire, so watch carefully. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 73, Cholesterol 85 mg, Sodium 151mg, Carbohydrates 3g,

 Ambrosia with coconut and toasted almonds

Serves 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 small pineapple
5 oranges
2 red apples, cored and diced
1 banana, halved lengthwise, peeled and sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons cream sherry
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate to cool. Add the coconut to the sheet and bake, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate to cool.

Cut off the crown of leaves and the base of the pineapple. Stand the pineapple upright and, using a large, sharp knife, pare off the skin, cutting downward just below the surface in long, vertical strips and leaving the small brown “eyes” on the fruit. Lay the pineapple on its side. Aligning the knife blade with the diagonal rows of eyes, cut a shallow furrow, following a spiral pattern around the pineapple, to remove all the eyes. Cut the pineapple crosswise into slices 3/4-inch thick, and remove the core with a small, sharp knife or small cookie cutter. Cut into cubes and set aside.

Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a thin slice off the top and the bottom, exposing the flesh. Stand the orange upright and, using a sharp knife, thickly cut off the peel, following the contour of the fruit and removing all the white pith and membrane. Holding the orange over a bowl, carefully cut along both sides of each section to free it from the membrane. As you work, discard any seeds and let the sections fall into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining oranges. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, oranges, apples, banana and sherry. Toss gently to mix well. Divide the fruit mixture evenly among individual bowls. Sprinkle evenly with the toasted almonds and coconut and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.

Nutritional info:  Calories 146, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 26g, Sodium 1mg, Total fat 4g, Saturated fat 1g, Monounsaturated fat 1g

Apples with dip

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 ounces fat-free cream cheese
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
1/2 cup orange juice
4 apples, cored and sliced

Directions

Place the cream cheese on the counter to allow it to soften, about 5 minutes.  To make the dip, combine the brown sugar, vanilla and cream cheese in a small bowl. Mix until smooth. Stir in the chopped peanuts.  Place the apples in another bowl. Drizzle orange juice over the apples to prevent browning. Serve the sliced apples with the dip.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 177, Cholesterol 4mg, Sodium 326mg, Carbohydrate 28g, Total fat 3g, Saturated fat 1g, Monounsaturated fat 1g

 Quesadillas

Serves 16

Ingredients

4-ounce can diced green chili peppers, drained

Half a small onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

8 10-inch fat-free whole-wheat tortilla

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

In a bowl, combine peppers, onion and cumin. Sprinkle each tortilla with cheese, using 1/4 cup cheese on each. Divide pepper mixture among tortillas, spreading it over cheese. Roll up each tortilla and put in greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove foil. Turn oven to broil. Broil 4 inches from heat for 1 1/2 minutes a side, or until lightly browned. Cut each tortilla into 4 pieces. Serve with your favorite salsa for dipping.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 103, Cholesterol 10 mg, Sodium 200mg, Carbohydrates 16g, Total fat 3g, Saturated fat 1.5g, Monounsaturated fat  0.5g

Fresh tomato crostini

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 pound crusty Italian peasant bread, cut into 4 slices and toasted

Directions

Combine tomatoes, basil, oil, garlic and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Divide tomato mixture with any juices among the toast. Serve at room temperature.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 120, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 175mg, Carbohydrates 19g, Total fat 3.5g, Saturated fat 0.5g, Monounsaturated fat 2g

 Crispy potato skins

You can use any number of herbs or spices to season the potato skins. Try fresh basil, chives, dill, garlic, cayenne pepper, caraway seed, tarragon or thyme.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 medium russet potatoes
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Wash the potatoes and pierce with a fork. Place in the oven and bake until the skins are crisp, about 1 hour.  Carefully — potatoes will be very hot — cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/8 inch of the potato flesh attached to the skin. Save the pulp for another use.  Spray the inside of each potato skin with butter-flavored cooking spray. Press in the rosemary and pepper. Return the skins to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 114, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Total fat 0g, Saturated fat 0g, Monounsaturated 0g.

Vegetable salsa

Store-bought salsa can have as much as 400 milligrams of sodium in 1/4 cup. This thick vegetable salsa has much less sodium — 150 milligrams in 1/2 cup. If you prefer hotter salsa, add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno peppers.

 Serves 16

Ingredients

1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup chopped red onion
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Wash vegetables and prepare as directed. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Toss gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 20, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrates 5g, Total fat 0g

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Healthy Snack Recipes

A lot of times I’d eat healthier if I had healthy recipes for snacks and entertaining.  Figuring I’m not the only one who thinks like this, I decided today I’d share with you some healthy snack and entertaining recipes.  I hope you enjoy.

 White bean dip

Ingredients:

1 can (15 ounces) white (cannelloni) beans, rinsed and drained
8 garlic cloves, roasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, add the beans, roasted garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Serve on top of thin slices of toasted French bread or pita triangles. This is also excellent placed on top of red (sweet) bell peppers cut into squares.

Nutritional Info:  Serving size:  2 tablespoons.  Calories:  109, Protein 5 g, Carbohydrates 15 g, Total fat 4 g, Monounsaturated fat 3 g, Trace saturated fat, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 105 mg.

Cheesecake

Serves 8
Ingredients

2 tablespoons cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup skim milk, heated almost to boiling
Egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg, or 2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
Lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Combine water, gelatin and lemon juice in blender container. Process on low speed 1 to 2 minutes to soften gelatin. Add hot milk, processing until gelatin is dissolved. Add egg substitute, sugar, vanilla and cheese to blender container. Process on high speed until smooth. Pour into 9″ pie plate or round flat dish. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. If you wish, top with grated lemon zest just before serving.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 80, Cholesterol 3 mg, Sodium 200 mg, Carbohydrates 10g, Total fat: trace,

High-calorie, high-protein smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup 2 percent milk
1 medium banana, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons protein powder

Directions

In a blender, combine the yogurt, milk, banana chunks, wheat germ and protein powder. Blend until smooth.  Pour into a tall frost-chilled glass and serve immediately.

Nutritional Info:  Serving Size:  2 ½ to 3 cups.  Calories, 531, Cholesterol 35 mg, Protein 32 g, Sodium 293 mg, Carbohydrates 82 g, Total fat 10 g, Saturated fat 5 g, Unsaturated fat 2 g

Fresh spring rolls with shrimp

Instead of being fried, like Chinese egg rolls, these appetizers are served fresh, letting the textures and flavors of the vegetable and shrimp filling shine through. Serve with the easy dipping sauce.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 cups water
8 large shrimp (prawns), peeled and deveined
1 ounce cellophane noodles
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and julienne cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or fresh coriander
4 rice-paper rounds, 8 inches in diameter
4 large fresh basil leaves, halved lengthwise

For the sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 green (spring) onion, including tender green top, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted natural peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch of brown sugar

Directions

In a saucepan, bring the 2 cups water to a boil. Add the shrimp and immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Cover and poach until pink and opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl of ice water and let cool for 3 minutes. Drain and cut each shrimp in half lengthwise. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the noodles and boiling water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and return the noodles to the bowl. Add the carrot, cucumber, cabbage, bean spouts and cilantro. Toss gently to mix.

Place a double thickness of paper towels on a work surface. Fill a large, shallow baking dish with water. Place 1 rice-paper round in the water and soak until pliable, about 30 seconds. Carefully transfer the wrapper to the paper towels and turn once to blot dry. Arrange 1/2 cup of the noodle mixture on the bottom half of the wrapper.

Fold the bottom edge toward the center and roll up the wrapper halfway, making sure to wrap tightly around the filling. Tuck 2 basil leaf halves along the inside crease of the half-rolled wrapper. Arrange 4 pieces of the shrimp, cut sides up, along the crease. Fold the right and left edges of the wrapper over the filling and finish rolling up. Repeat with the remaining wrappers, filling, basil and shrimp. Transfer the rolls to a plate and cover with dampened paper towels.

To make the sauce, combine the hoisin sauce, green onion, lime juice, fish sauce, peanut butter, red pepper flakes and brown sugar in a small bowl. Stir until well blended.

To serve, cut the rolls in half on the diagonal and place on small individual plates. Pool the sauce alongside each roll.

Nutritional Info:  Serving size:  2 spring rolls.  Calories 198, Monounsaturated fat 2 g, Protein 10 g, Cholesterol 44 mg; Carbohydrates 34 g, Sodium 512 mg, Total fat 4 g, Saturated fat 0 g

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Stevia: A Sweetener That May Actually Be Good for You

Americans are slowly becoming aware that the white sugar they’ve been eating is a proven human toxin.  We are seeing many people in this country plagued with the health conditions of diabetes, hypoglycemia, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, increased arterial plaque, immune suppression, insulin resistance, obesity, and heart disease; much of which can be attributed to this country’s love of sugar. Many Americans, realizing that sugar had an impact on their waistlines, started looking for low calorie sugar substitutes.  What they came up with was those pink, blue, and yellow packages that really aren’t any better for you.  Sweet and Low is derived from coal tar; Nutra-Sweet is a proven neurotoxin; and Splenda is showing itself to be another deceitful alternative.  Jim Turner, Chairman of the Board of the Health Advocacy Group – Citizens for Health describes varying degrees of gastro-intestinal problems resulting from Splenda use. “… from irritation all the way up to serious bleeding ulcers requiring surgery,” says Turner. Other health professionals report cases of cardiac problems, and various allergic reactions. In this environment, a natural sweetener is starting to gain popularity.  Stevia, with its extracts having close to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, is starting to garner more attention as a sugar substitute.  Stevia is in the sunflower family and is native to subtropical and tropical regions of western North and South America.  Its taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar.  Stevia was discovered by the 16th century Spanish Conquistadors who learned about it from the local Guarani and Mato Grosso Indians who used stevia leaves to sweeten their medicines and teas.  Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. Political controversies have limited stevia’s availability in many countries; for example, the United States banned it in the early 1990s unless labeled as a supplement, but in 2008 approved an extract of it as a food additive. While some countries limit or ban its use, Stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Japan, South America, and parts of Asia.  Millions of Japanese have been using stevia for over 30 years with no reported or known harmful effects. In addition to its use as a sweetener, studies have shown it may possibly help the treatment of osteoporosis.  In a patent application claim, it was claimed that eggshell breakage can be reduced by 75% by adding a small percentage of stevia leaf powder to chicken feed.  It has also been suggested that pigs fed stevia extract had twice as much calcium content in their meat, but these claims have been unverified Medical research has also shown possible benefits of stevia in treating obesity and high blood pressure.  Studies have shown that stevia improves insulin sensitivity in rats and possibly even promotes additional insulin production, helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Preliminary human studies also suggest that stevia can help reduce hypertension. So if you’re looking for something to sweeten your coffee, let me recommend stevia to you – it’s natural, it doesn’t affect your blood glucose levels, and it may even have a positive effect on your insulin levels.

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