Nov
01
2004

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

Prevention has been gaining more momentum for public health as well as for the health conscious individual. Instead of looking at salvation from a slew of diseases like arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and the complications from diabetes in the form of super pills, prevention looks a lot more promising.
Flax seed has been around for several thousand years, but it has been making a name for itself as part of healthy eating.

Its most important components are its fiber content, the alpha-linoleic acid, and the lignans. Eating flax seed helps to mop up cholesterol in the bowel, and studies have shown a drop in the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Duke University is publishing results that show flax seed to be helpful in blocking prostate cancer. A publication going back to August 2001 in the Archives of Ophthalmology point out the fact, that the omega-3 fatty acids, which are contained in flax seed, reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The same omega-3 fatty acids also have a favorable influence in the glucose response after a meal, a fact that is important for the prevention of diabetes.

It has to be mentioned at this point, that flax seed oil does not have all the benefits, as the fiber has been removed, and some of the benefits get lost as a result of the temperature used with processing. Also, just eating a spoon full of flax seeds will not be the answer, as flax seed is not fully used during digestion (the seeds are simply excreted in a bowel movement). To unlock the benefits it is best, to grind the seed.

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

A coffee mill does the job well enough, and freshly ground seeds are better than the pre-ground variety that has been sitting around in the bin of a store for some time. Two teaspoons of ground flax seed mixed with some yogurt and fruit makes for a good starter in the morning or an easy evening snack. A slice of flax seed bread does not give you the benefits; remember that heat during cooking or baking destroys the key components.
The nice part about flax seed is the fact, that it is inexpensive, plentiful, has no adverse side effects*, and it is the ounce of prevention which is readily available to you.

More info on Omega-3: http://nethealthbook.com/news/inflammation-extinguished-omega-3/

Reference: The Medical Post, October 12, 2004, page 13

* Comments (added Aug.28, 2005): Despite the Duke University study cited above there are disturbing news from a 14 year follow-up prospective study that has been confirmed by other studies showing that there are side-effects. This study showed that in males there is a 2-fold risk of developing invasive prostate cancer when flax seed was the supplement used. As flax seed contains alpha-linolenic acid (=ALA) and fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (=EPA), there are striking differences of action that have not yet been defined in more detail. The same study showed that over 14 years EPA (when mixed with DHA) lowered the risk of getting invasive prostate cancer by 26%. Until it is known more how flax seed works, it likely is wiser to to take a molecularly distilled EPA/DHA supplement daily as this also reduces the cardiovascular risk, but at the same time prevents cancer.

Last edited October 27, 2014

Nov
01
2004

The Mediterranean Diet Definitely Not A Fad

Giacomo Castelvetro has first described healthy eating Mediterranean style in 1614. As an exiled Italian living in England, he tried to convince the English to eat a wider variety of fruit and vegetables and to prepare them in the same way he had eaten them in Italy. His attempt was a failure, however the same book has since been translated into English and published in 1989. In the meantime The Seven Countries Study by Ancel Keys in the 1950’s showed that the population of Crete in Greece had very low rates of heart disease, of certain cancers and a very long life expectancy, despite generous consumption of fat in the form of olive oil.

Despite a wide variation between all the 15 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, there are common characteristics: an abundance of vegetables and fruit are consumed, along with nuts and legumes. Cereal products are largely whole grain. Olive oil is the principal fat source, and fish, seafoods and poultry are eaten in moderation. Red meat is consumed rarely. Cheese and yogurt may be eaten, depending on the region.

The first clinical evidence supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet came from the Lyon Heart Study. Patients who had suffered a heart attack were either assigned the diet designed by the American Heart Association or a Mediterranean style diet. After a follow-up of 27 months, the group eating the Mediterranean diet had a reduction of heart attacks by 73 % and a decreased mortality by 70% compared to the other group.

The Mediterranean Diet Definitely Not A Fad

The Mediterranean Diet Definitely Not A Fad

When the various foods of the Mediterranean diet are analyzed, the reasons for the health benefits become very clear. The fats, which are consumed, are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil or fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish (tuna, salmon, trout, sardines) or from plant sources (walnuts and other tree nuts and flax seed).

As there is an emphasis on natural foods, the diet is extremely low in trans fatty acids (hydrogenated fats), which are known to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. As more than 300g of vegetables per capita are consumed daily, the contents of antioxidants and other beneficial plant chemicals is much higher when compared to Western diets. There are many individual components of the Mediterranean diet that contribute to the reduction of disease and in particular of heart disease. It also is apparent, that it is not one single food or nutrient, but all the interactive effects of all the nutrients that are responsible for the health benefits.

The practical application does not mean deprivation and starvation, but a move away from processed fats (margarine), baked goods (donuts, muffins, pastries), and high saturated fat snacks and trans fats (chips, crackers, cookies, pies). Food choices move towards those of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Portions or servings have to be adequate to maintain a healthy weight.

Mediterranean food is not the heaping plate of pasta with an afterthought of vegetables nor the super-size fast food pizza with pepperoni and cheese, but foods that incorporate the fresh food rather than the fast food. It entails a shift from large portions of red meat to smaller portions of fish, a transition from highly processed foods to ample helpings of dark green vegetables with a dose of olive oil. Low amounts of alcohol, especially red wine can make a meal enjoyable, which means one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. And after dinner go for a walk! What Castelvetro tried to teach us in his writings back in 1614 is still true today.

More info on Mediterranean diet: http://nethealthbook.com/news/mediterranean-diet-benefits-us-workers/

Reference: Patient Care Canada, September 2004, Vol.15, No.9

Last edited October 27, 2014

Nov
01
2004

Not All Vitamins Prevent Cancer

Even in the recent past, vitamins were looked at as an essential weapon to prevent illness, however, a large study by the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group at the Centre for Clinical Intervention Research at Copenhagen University has come up with disappointing evidence.

A large evidence-based analysis was performed involving a population of 170,525 persons who were enrolled in randomized trials. They received a regimen of antioxidant supplementation that included beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E daily or on alternate days for 1 to 12 years, along with selenium every year for 2 to 4 years.
All trials reported the separate or combined incidence of cancer of the esophagus, colon, pancreas, stomach or the liver.
Results showed that beta-carotene alone, the most widely tested antioxidant for cancer prevention, did not have substantial cancer-fighting properties in gastrointestinal cancers. The devastating blow is the fact that beta-carotene in combination with vitamin A and vitamin C significantly increased mortality! Recent studies examining vitamin C show, that it can be an antioxidant, but it also can be a pro-oxidant (the less desirable quality). Trials involving selenium very clearly showed that it might have beneficial effects on the incidence of gastrointestinal cancers.
Following these news it would be a grave mistake to assume, that fruit and vegetables with their built-in antioxidants, micronutrients, dietary fiber and beneficial plant-chemicals have fallen off grace.

Not All Vitamins Prevent Cancer

Not All Vitamins Prevent Cancer

The truth is, that fruit and vegetables typically contain safe levels of vitamins. Most studies have reported that adequate intake of fruit and vegetables are indeed associated with a low incidence of cancer.
The study, however, clearly points out the pitfalls of vitamin supplementation.
-“The more the better” does not apply when it comes to taking vitamins.
-Antioxidants according to this study are not as beneficial for cancer prevention as was thought of in the past.
– Only vitamin C and selenium held up to the scrutiny of the evidence-based researchers with regard to having preventative effects regarding the above named gastrointestinal cancers.

Reference: The Lancet, Vol. 364, Number 9441, pg.1219-28,  October 2, 2004

Last edited December 7, 2012

Oct
01
2004

Hamburger Disease – A Sizzling Problem

One of the many strains of the bacterium E. coli (type 0157:H7) became famous after a 1982 outbreak of bloody diarrhea across the U.S. The infection could be traced back to contaminated hamburgers sold by a fast food chain. Canada also had some smaller food-related outbreaks, but a large disastrous outbreak occurred in Walkerton, Ontario. In this case the culprit was cow manure that was washed into surface water. The water was not optimally treated at the local water works and then consumed by the local community. It is important to know, that infection with E. coli bacteria can be spread in various ways as shown in this table.

Hamburger Disease – A Sizzling Problem

Hamburger Disease – A Sizzling Problem

The symptoms of infection usually present themselves after an incubation period of 3 to 8 days in the form of abdominal cramps, diarrhea that can also be bloody, and vomiting. Unfortunately, a more severe form can occur in 2 to 10% of patients due to the toxic substances of the bacterium. The dreaded form of “hamburger disease”, is medically known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, and children are at the highest risk, along with older adults or those with immune suppression (AIDS patients, cancer patients). The disease is life threatening, requires blood transfusions, dialysis and life-support therapy in an intensive-care unit setting.

Hamburger disease is caused by:
Contact with livestock (or feces)
Human-to-human contact
Consumption of non-chlorinated contaminated water
Consumption of insufficiently cooked ground beef, salami, unpasteurized milk, even vegetables like
lettuce or alfalfa sprouts that have not been washed.

Prevention is of utmost importance, and fortunately a lot of it is common sense about food safety and safe food-handling practices:

Hints to prevent Hamburger disease:
Wash your hands after handling animal and livestock after using the washroom and after changing diapers.
Wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food and handling raw meat.
Never put raw meat in contact with cooked meat and disinfect areas of meat preparation like
counters or cutting boards.
Make sure all the pink color is gone from cooked meats, and juices after cooking should never
be bloody!
Drink only pasteurized milk, fruit juices or ciders.
Never drink water from untreated sources (creeks, ponds).
Practice strict hand hygiene when dealing with persons who have diarrhea, especially when changing diapers of children with diarrhea.

Besides prevention, vigilance is important: if any case of E. coli infection has been found, the local health units have to be notified, so the source of infection can be found and further spread can be prevented.

More info on food safety: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/food-safety/

Reference: The Canadian Journal of Continuing Medical Education, September 2004, Vol.16, Nr.9, pg.49.

Last edited January 4, 2015

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Sep
01
2004

Calcium Prevents Kidney Stones

Forget what your grandmother may have taught you about kidney stones. In the past there may have been a bias towards thinking that calcium may be one of the causes of kidney stones. But Dr. Curhan and collegues from the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Womens’ Hospital, Boston, MA put this question to the test. Other food factors were also examined in this Nurses Health Study II, which was published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine (in April of 2004) and reviewed by The Medical Post (Aug. 24, 2004 edition).

I have summarized the results in the bar graph below. What is shown is the cumulative risk for developing kidney stones in a population of 96,245 nurses aged 27 to 44 over eight years without a history of kidney stones in this prospective study. At the same time detailed records were kept regarding food and health habits. The risks between the highest and the lowest quintile regarding various food groups were computed, which is an accepted way to tease out the effects of the food group studied.

Calcium Prevents Kidney Stones

Calcium Prevents Kidney Stones

Dr. Curhan and his collegues found that calcium protects from getting kidney stones as does meat. Sugar is a risk for stone development. Fluid intake has a protective effect as uric acid and other stone forming substances are kept in solution preventing kidney stone formation. Phytates that are found in soybeans, beans and peas have a protective effect. The control value of the study was the average risk for the population, which was set at 1.0 meaning that there is no added risk to develop kidney stones.

Relative risk of developing kidney stones from exposure to different foods in younger nurses

Calcium Prevents Kidney Stones1

Study shows Calcium To Prevent Kidney Stones

Conclusion: Contrary to popular belief calcium and meat as well as phytones have a protective effect against the development of kidney stones. Fluid intake is protective as well. On the other hand sugar is a risk factor for kidney stones, a fact that seems to not be generally known.

More info on kidney stones: http://nethealthbook.com/abdominal-pain/left-upper-abdomen/kidney-stone-renal-calculus/

Ref.: 1. Dr. G.C.Curhan et al., Arch Intern Med 2004 Apr 26; 164 (8), pp. 885-91  2. The Medical Post, Aug. 24, 2004, p.17

Last edited October 26, 2014

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Aug
01
2004

Too Much Fat Fuels Metabolic Syndrome

In a review article for physicians from the St. Michael’s Hospital of the University of Toronto (see reference below) Dr. Monge outlined some of the newer human research where links were found between the lining of the blood vessels and the hormones produced by fat cells that lead to the complications of the metabolic syndrome. In obese people there is a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, lipid abnormalities and high insulin levels, which is known as “metabolic syndrome”. Another name that was used for this condition in the 1990’s was “syndrome of insulin resistance”.

Dr. Monge pointed out that blood vessel health depends on the fine balance between two opposing forces. On the one hand there is a system that leads to blood vessel spasm, blood clotting, growth promoting, inflammation causing and oxidizing. On the other hand there is a system that is responsible for blood vessel relaxation, growth inhibition, blood clot dissolving, inhibiting inflammation and antioxidant activity. Complex changes occur in our metabolism when we put on pounds and accumulate too much fat. It is important to realize that fat is not just sitting there, but is composed of highly active fat cells that respond to insulin and growth factors and in turn produce a number of hormones and factors that affect the cells that are lining the blood vessels. Inflammatory cytokines are produced by fat cells that attack the blood vessels by producing atheromatous plaques, causing them to accumulate fat again and help in the processes that lead to rupture of the plaques.

Too Much Fat Fuels Metabolic Syndrome

Too Much Fat Fuels Metabolic Syndrome

The end result is that the deadly interplay between the fat cells and the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels tips the balance between the two systems mentioned above to the point where heart attacks and strokes suddenly occur.

There are two complex pathways that are involved in this process and that are linked to what was stated above. One crucial aspect of this involves nitric oxide, a small molecule that is normally produced by the endothelial lining cells and that is needed for normal circulation of the heart muscle, skeletal muscles and internal organs. This protective system is where much of the derangement of normal metabolism occurs with regard to the metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Monge pointed out that with these newer insights into the complex metabolic changes associated with the metabolic syndrome in obese people, there will be very practical results in the near future. Anti-inflammatory medications are already being utilized and some of the anti-diabetic medications have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks. It is hoped that sensitive tests will be developed to measure the hidden endothelial dysfunction at a time when preventative steps are still effective or early intervention can be done.

More info on the metabolic syndrome: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/metabolic-syndrome/

Reference: Metabolic Syndrome Rounds (April 2004): J.C. Monge “Endothelial Dysfunction and the metabolic syndrome”

Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

Aug
01
2004

Citrus Fruit Peel Lowering Cholesterol

New research from London/Ontario in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculature has shown that in hamsters cholesterol can be reduced by about 35% through a diet that contains compounds derived from orange peel.

A development company (KGH Syndergize, London/Ont.) under the lead researcher, Dr. Elzbieta Kurowska (PhD), has identified the active compounds in the peels of oranges or tangerines that are having cholesterol lowering properties. They are a group of substances known under the name of “polymethoxylated flavones” (PMFs) and have the advantage that they have no side-effects. They are naturally occuring and have been part of the food chain that our bodies are used to.

The research results were recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, which is a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society.

The animal and cell line experiments showed that the liver cell metabolism of cholesterol is changed so that bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) is lowered, but the good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) is unaffected. When hamsters were fed a diet with 1% PMFs their LDL blood levels were lowered by 32% to 40%.

Citrus Fruit Peel Lowering Cholesterol

Citrus Fruit Peel Lowering Cholesterol

The experiments were so successful that there is now a human trial on the way where the longterm effects of PMFs on LDL levels is being followed. Dr. Kurowska cautioned that drinking orange or tangerine juice would be having many beneficial health effects. But in order to get the cholesterol lowering effect that you can achieve with the citrus peel PMF supplement you would have to consume about 20 cups of orange or tangerine juice every day.

Reference: The Medical Post, Vpl. 40 (June 22, 2004): page 18

Last edited December 8, 2012

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Jul
01
2004

Beer A Red Flag For Gout

For centuries gout has been known as the affliction of the affluent. The Greek physician Hippocrates first described it as “the disease of the kings”. In the meantime the illness has jumped social boundaries, as the over consumption of meats and alcohol will occur in all population groups.

In its April 17 issue the British medical paper”The Lancet” shows the first publication on the link between alcohol and gout. Dr. Hyon Choi of the rheumatology unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, headed a study that showed that moderate amounts of wine did not pose a risk for gout. It was the beer drinkers that were headed for trouble! Those who drank more than two 350 ml cans or bottles of beer per day had a 2.5 times higher risk of developing gout than nondrinkers. People who had 2 shots of liquor a day ran a risk that was 1.6 times higher than those who did not drink. Moderate wine drinkers had the same risk of developing gout as nondrinkers, as long as they did not overindulge: 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day were the limit! It is not clear at this point, which would be the noxious substance in beer and spirits that is responsible for attacks of gout, and moderation is still in order for all wine lovers!

Beer A Red Flag For Gout

Beer A Red Flag For Gout

More info about gout: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/gout/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, May 15,2004, pg.10

Last edited Oct. 26, 2014

May
01
2004

Sugar And Starchy Foods Cause Colorectal Cancer

A study from the Harvard University involving 38,000 women and having been started in 1993 has surprised the researchers. They wanted to find out whether there were certain foods that may cause colon and rectal cancer. So they administered a “food-frequency” questionnaire with 131 questions to women 45 years or older who entered into the study. Such factors as low-dose aspirin, vitamin E and beta-carotene were included in the questionnaire as was the exact food composition for the year prior to enrolment into the study.

A sugar load (glycemic load) was calculated. This way the impact of various sugar and starch containing foods could be assessed and compared among different subgroups regarding the later development of cancer in the colon and rectum.
When Dr. Susan Higginbotham and Dr. Simin Liu analyzed the diets of the 174 patients who did develop cancer (26 rectal cancers, 148 colon cancers) they found that the women with the highest sugar and starch load were 3 times more likely to develop cancer than the controls with a low glycemic load. High glycemic load foods are candy, cakes, cookies; any other refined flour products including white bread, pasta, French fries and baked potatoes. Together with other literature in this field the authors of this study concluded that the high glycemic food load leads to increased insulin levels in the blood as well as insulin-like growth factors. This in turn leads to cell division in normal and cancerous cells including the lining of the colon and rectum. In addition it is known that the C-reactive protein promotes an inflammatory response that will lead to heart attacks and to cancer.

Sugar And Starchy Foods Cause Colorectal Cancer

Sugar And Starchy Foods Cause Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Bob Bruce from the University of Toronto has shown in his research on colon cancer that insulin and related factors are important in the promotion of this cancer. He commented regarding the Harvard study reviewed here that more research is required before the exact cause of cancer of the colon and rectum would be understood. This knowledge is required before more effective preventative measures can be found other than a simple reduction of sugar and starch in the foods we eat.

Based on the Feb.4 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (U.S.) and the National Review of Medicine (Canada) March 15, 2004.

More info about Colorectal cancer can be found through this link.

Last edited October 26, 2014

Apr
01
2004

Lycopene Of Tomatoes Fights Cancer Cells

Dr. John Erdman Jr. from the University of Illinois has done epidemiological studies that suggest that the red color of tomatoes, which is provided by lycopenes, is only effective against prostate cancer, if the whole tomato is consumed.

The professor of food science and human nutrition found that other phytochemicals in the tomato act in concert with lycopene to protect against cancer. To prove this more conclusively, he designed an experiment involving 194 rats with prostate cancer into three groups.

Group 1 was the control group without any detectable lycopene in their diet. Group 2 was fed the control diet with purified lycopene. Group 3 was fed the control diet with ground-up tomato paste (with seeds and skins). Group 3 was the only group where the risk of dying from prostate cancer was reduced by 30%. Group 2 rats had the same high death rates as the control group. These results were recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Erdman concluded that taking lycopene is not as effective as eating the whole tomato to prevent cancer of the prostate. He also suggested to use whole tomato products in tomato juice, in salads, pasta and pizzas.

Lycopene Of Tomatoes Fights Cancer Cells

Lycopene Of Tomatoes Fights Cancer Cells

Based on an article in the Medical Post, Vol 40, No.8, Feb.24, 2004 (page 33).

Link to prostate cancer chapter of the Net Health Book.

Last edited December 8, 2012