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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grass-Fed and Pasture-Raised Meat and Animal Products


When meat comes from animals raised on pasture, it can be part of a healthy diet for those who choose to eat it.

Unlike grain-fed meat, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats are  good sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Meat that comes from animals raised on grains, like corn and soybeans, is high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are called "essential" because our bodies can't make them and they must come from our diet. Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in the body, while omega-6 fats increase inflammation. And our bodies need both.

Inflammation can be a good thing: it helps our immune system fight bacteria and viruses that can make us sick, and it's essential for healing injured tissues. But we also need to be able to turn inflammation off once it's no longer needed.

Because inflammatory biochemical pathways in the body must be balanced with anti-inflammatory pathways, ideally, we should get omega-3 and omega-6 fats from our diet in equal amounts.

Most people in the United States get way too many omega-6 fats, and animal products are a big part of the problem. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that eggs from chickens fed corn contained 20 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, while eggs from chickens raised on pasture contained roughly equal amounts.

As a general rule, omega-6s are found in grains and omega-3s are found in leaves, nuts, seeds, fish and seafood. So when animals are allowed to roam free and forage for their natural diet - which includes leaves, grass, nuts or seeds - their meat, milk and eggs are good sources of omega-3 fats. But when animals eat grains, their meat, milk and eggs contain excess amounts of omega-6 fats.

Consuming too many omega-6 fats from grains, grain-fed animal products and processed foods made with soybean oil or corn oil is certainly a significant factor in the current crisis of inflammatory illness. Chronic and deadly diseases linked to both diet and inflammation include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Together, these three conditions currently kill two out of every three people in the United States.

To protect your health, seek out meat, milk and eggs from animals raised on pasture. These products are often more expensive than their grain-fed counterparts, but remember that quality is more important than quantity. It's better to eat smaller amounts of grass-fed meat than larger amounts of grain-fed meat. And a little meat can go along way, especially when added to soups and salads.

Think of it as a healthy condiment for a plant-based diet.

Reference:

Simopoulos AP and Salem N Jr. n-3 fatty acids in eggs from range-fed Greek chickens. New England Journal of Medicine. 1989 Nov 16;321(20):1412.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Exercise Prevents Colds and Flu

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine
found that regular exercise was associated with fewer upper respiratory infections and less severe symptoms.

Researchers followed more than 1000 adults, between the ages of 18 and 85 years, for 12 weeks in the fall and winter. Compared to sedentary individuals who exercised once per week at most, those who exercised five or more days per week spent 43 percent fewer days with upper respiratory infections like colds and flu. When the exercisers did get sick, they experienced up to 41 percent fewer symptoms.

Reference:

Nieman DC et al. Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2010 Nov 1.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preparing for Childbirth

Research studies show that for women with healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies, giving birth at home is just as safe as, or even safer than, hospital birth.

The largest scientific study of home births, published in 2005 in the British Medical Journal, followed 5,418 women from the United States (98 percent) and Canada (2 percent). Childbirth intervention rates were very low, the infant mortality rate was less than 0.2 percent, and the maternal mortality rate was zero. Researchers concluded that "planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births in the United States."

If you're expecting a baby, join Choices in Chlidbirth for these FREE informational workshops:

Choosing a Home Birth

Learn what to expect in home birth settings, network with other expectant parents, listen to stories of new parents who gave birth at home, and have your questions answered by a Mother-Friendly provider.

     Date: Wednesday, January 12
     Time: 6:15 - 8:30 pm
     Location: 14th Street Y (344 E. 14th) Room 301
     Cost: Free

Preparing for Birth: A Focus on Childbirth Education

Learn about various types of childbirth education, listen to stories of new parents, network with other expectant parents, and have your questions answered by a Mother-Friendly provider.

     Date: Monday, January 24
     Time: 6:15 - 8:30 pm
     Location: 14th Street Y (344 E. 14th Street), Room 301
     Cost: Free

Choices in Childbirth is also offering a free workshop on breastfeeding and self-care during the early postpartum period in February and a free workshop on labor coping strategies in March.

If you'd like to make a donation to Choices in Childbirth to help keep these classes free, visit this link and show your gratitude.

Reference:

Johnson KC and Daviss BA. Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America. British Medical Journal, 330(7505):1416, 18 June 2005.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Easy Baked Eggs


Looking for a New Year's resolution?

What about eating more non-starchy vegetables?

They are full of fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals that can protect us from disease. Cooked tomatoes are the best source of lycopene, a carotenoid with antioxidant and anti-cancer activity.

When it comes to eating more vegetables, start with the first meal of the day. For most people, this is a meal made mostly of flour and sugar: processed breakfast cereal, cereal bars, toast, Pop-tarts, pastries, croissants, jelly, doughnuts, French toast, waffles, pancakes and syrup.

Instead, eat protein and veggies for breakfast. If they are healthy choices for lunch and dinner, why wouldn't they be healthy choices for breakfast?

This recipe is a simple way to add more vegetables to your diet. It makes a quick, nutritious breakfast on busy mornings, but it can also be served for brunch, lunch or dinner. Two eggs are ideal for a main course and a single baked egg makes a nice appetizer. If you're feeding a crowd, bake the eggs in an oven-proof dish instead of individual ramekins.

I used leftover crushed tomatoes, mixed with some garlic and herbs, but you could substitute other veggies (this is a great way to use up leftovers). Try sautéed vegetables, steamed spinach, ratatouille, lentils, or anything else you can nestle an egg into.

Because it melts so beautifully, I topped my eggs with a few pieces of Munster cheese. You could use another cheese, or skip it if you prefer. A sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs would be ideal. 

Easy Baked Eggs

GLUTEN-FREE
  • Crushed tomatoes or other cooked vegetables, 1 cup per serving
  • Pasture-raised eggs, 1 or 2 per serving
  • Sea salt
  • Ground peppercorn
  • Slices of Munster cheese or other cheese
  • Fresh chopped herbs to garnish (optional)
Preheat the over to 400F.

Fill individuals ramekins or a large baking dish with the tomatoes. Make indentations, enough to accommodate all of your eggs, then crack one egg into each indentation. Sprinkle with sea salt and peppercorn. Top with cheese.

Transfer the eggs to the oven and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how thoroughly you like your yolks cooked. Serve hot.