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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In The Green Kitchen

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307336808?ie=UTF8&tag=adifkinofdoc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0307336808%22%3EIn%20the%20Green%20Kitchen:%20Techniques%20to%20Learn%20by%20Heart%3C/a%3E%3Cimg%20src=%22http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=adifkinofdoc-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0307336808%22%20width=%221%22%20height=%221%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20style=%22border:none%20%21important;%20margin:0px%20%21important;

"Cooking creates a sense of well-being for yourself and the people you love and brings beauty and meaning to everyday life.

"And all it requires is common sense – the common sense to eat seasonally, to know where your food comes from, to support and buy from local farmers and producers who are good stewards of our natural resources, and to apply the same principles of conservation to your own home kitchen."

This is one of my favorite quotes from Alice Waters' newest book, In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn By Heart.

Inside she shares simple and straightforward recipes that teach readers fundamental skills for healthy cooking (no fancy equipment needed). Learn the basics then cook what inspires you, with the confidence to adapt recipes to local and seasonal ingredients.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exercise More Effective Than High-Tech Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease

A German study published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association, compared the effectiveness of exercise to that of high-tech medical care in patients with coronary artery disease.

More than one hundred men, aged 70 and younger, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received angioplasty with stenting (stents are tubes that prop open clogged arteries to increase blood flow). Men in the other group were put on an exercise program that included 20 minutes of bicycling each day for 12 months.
   
Researchers found that, compared to angioplasty and stenting, regular physical exercise was more effective and less expensive. The exercisers had fewer relapses and better blood flow than the men who underwent the high-tech procedures. Their treatment was also considerably cheaper, likely due to fewer expensive procedures and hospital stays.

Reference:

Hambrecht R et al. Percutaneous coronary angioplasty compared with exercise training in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a randomized trial. Circulation. 2004 Mar 23; 109(11):1371-8.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Honey: How Sweet It Is


Honey is flower nectar concentrated by bees flapping their wings. It's also a simple carbohydrate. But unlike other simple carbohydrates, it has health benefits and unexpected effects on blood sugar and insulin levels.

In 2004 a study compared the effects of real honey produced by bees to an artificial honey solution made up of dextrose and fructose in the same proportions as honey. After volunteers consumed one or the other for 15 days, researchers found that compared to the same amount of artificial honey, the real honey:
  • Caused significantly lower rises in blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Reduced levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker 
  • Decreased levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood associated with cardiovascular disease
  • Increased HDL cholesterol 
  • Decreased total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol
  • Decreased triglycerides

The artificial honey solution was associated with higher blood levels of glucose and insulin, and increased levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

Honey can also be used to reduce symptoms of environmental allergies. Eating local honey reduces allergic sensitivity to flowering plants in the area where the bees gathered the nectar.

And honey can be used topically to help wounds heal. A study in Nigeria found that skin abscesses (deep infections) dressed with gauze soaked in raw, unpasteurized honey healed faster than abscesses given standard antiseptic care, resulting in shorter hospital stays. 

References:

Al-Waili N.S. 2004. Natural honey lowers plasma glucose, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic subjects: comparison with dextrose and sucrose. Journal of Medicinal Food 7(1):100-7.

Cordain L et al. 2005. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81(2): 341-354.

Okeniyi, John AO et al. 2005. Comparison of healing of incised abscess wounds with honey and EUSOL dressing. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 11(3):511-513.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day - 100th Anniversary

Women's Health: A Year in Review

International Women's Day was first proposed by socialist leader Clara Zetkin at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen on March 19, 1910.

The following year, the first International Women's Day event was held. More than one million women and men across Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland attended rallies calling for the equality of women in society and government.

Now International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th.  It is commemorated by the United Nations and designated in many countries as a national holiday.  And it’s an annual opportunity for women and men from all over the globe to come together, address important issues, and recognize and celebrate the achievements of women.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, and in honor of women everywhere, I'm taking a look back over the past year at issues important to us, from infertility and osteoporosis to cell phones and chocolate.

I've also listed some of my favorite recipes from my other blog, The Naturopathic Gourmet.

And if you haven't already, find me on Facebook.

Happy International Women's Day!
Dr. Sarah Cimperman, ND
Pathfinder International is a non-profit organization working to increase access to reproductive health care through the creation of sustainable community-based programs.
A recent survey by Glamour magazine found that 97 percent of women had at least one negative thought about their body every day. It happened, on average, 13 times per day, but in some instances up to 100 times per day. Thin may be in, but is it healthy? A review of the research reveals why overweight women should focus on fitness, forget about fatness, and learn to love their bodies.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment can mimic or block natural hormones made by the body. They have been linked to irreversible reproductive and developmental problems like early puberty, infertility and cancer.
Studies show that before babies are even born, their bodies are contaminated with up to 358 different chemicals. Many have been linked to cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, weakened immune systems, imbalances in thyroid and sex hormones, and even cancer.
Twelve ways to protect yourself and your family from household toxins.
For pregnant women, excessive cell phone radiation can be especially dangerous. In utero exposure has been associated with elevated fetal heart rates and, in children, hyperactivity, behavioral and emotional difficulties, and problems with memory and learning.
An article published earlier this year in the British Medical Journal concluded that taking calcium supplements was associated with an increased risk of having a heart attack. This meta-analysis was flawed in several ways, yet it raised an important issue. Too many people, especially women, take too much calcium.
You don't need a gym to strengthen bones and muscles. Here are some simple resistance exercises you can do at home or at the park because they don’t require weights or equipment. Together, they will target all major areas of your body: arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back.
Drinking tea has been associated with the preservation of bone mineral density in older women.
I attended the premiere of two new independent documentaries, My Toxic Baby and Latching On: The Politics of Breastfeeding in America, presented by Women Make Movies and New York Women In Film and Television. These are must-see films for pregnant women, expecting parents, and caregivers of infants alike.

One topic I found especially fascinating was Elimination Communication, a method of diaper-free infant toilet training practiced throughout the world. It saves money, reduces environmental pollution, helps develop good communication between infants and caregivers, eliminates skin irritation and diaper rash, and reduces exposure to chemicals found in single-use diapers.
This non-profit organization promotes good maternity care. Through education, advocacy and outreach they give women the information they need to make informed decisions about where and how to give birth.
Wearing high heels has long been associated with foot pain and problems like ingrown toe nails, corns, calluses, bunions, neuromas, hammertoes and other deformities. A recent study shows that women who wear high heels are also at risk for structural and functional changes in muscles and tendons of the lower leg. For healthy feet, ankles and legs, follow these rules when selecting shoes.
I was featured as one of five "notable" healers in the September 2010 issue of Whole Living magazine.
Not all chocolate is good for you and the ingredients make all the difference. The best bars have a high cocoa content, because it’s the cocoa powder that contains healthy compounds shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer.


Dreamy Dark Chocolate Mi-Cuits

These delicious little chocolate cakes are called "mi-cuits" in France (pronounced “mee-kwee”), which translates to "midway cooked." Because their centers are soft and gooey, they may appear only partially baked, but believe me, they are cooked to perfection.



 
Fruit and Nut Bars

These home-made granola bars are easy to make, healthier than processed bars, and packed full of raw nuts, dried fruit and whole grain oats. They freeze well so make a big batch and keep them on hand for quick breakfasts when you're short on time or healthy, portable snacks. Take them to school or work, the beach or hiking trail, or wherever your day may take you. 


Central Park Salad

I live in the middle of Manhattan, but I can still forage for food. I gathered all of these ingredients within a mile of my apartment except the sea salt, olive oil, and white wine vinegar (which I bought from the source on a trip to Napa). If I can do it in New York City, almost anyone can.


Easy Baked Eggs

This dish makes a quick, nutritious breakfast on busy mornings, but it can also be served as a satisfying brunch, lunch or dinner.



Wild Salmon with Ginger Orange Sauce 

I always keep wild salmon in my freezer for fast dinners when I'm short on time. After you thaw it overnight in the fridge, it cooks quite quickly. You have just enough time to make the sauce and toss a salad before it's ready to eat.


Cherry Salsa with Grilled Pacific Halibut

Spicy and sweet, this unusual twist on salsa is a flavorful accompaniment to grilled fish and seafood. I served it with halibut, but this fresh fruit salsa also pairs well with poultry or pork, and vegetarians will enjoy it over grilled tofu triangles drizzled with tamari.


Blood Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

Citrus peels contain flavonoids like nobiletin and tangeritin that have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects in the body. Studies show that these flavonoids can induce the death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and reduce the chance that tumors will spread to other parts of the body.


Cranberry Beans with Rosemary and Garlic 

Beans are a healthy vegetarian protein and full of fiber. They can help balance blood sugar, regulate the digestive tract, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.



Dinosaur Kale Chips

You never thought you could eat an entire bunch of kale in one sitting. Until now.





Mizuna with Tomatoes and Garlic

Mizuna is a green leafy vegetable native to Japan and a member of the Brassicaceae family, well known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits. Sometimes referred to as Spider Mustard, it has long and feathery leaves, tender and juicy stems, and a peppery flavor that is reminiscent of mustard greens.



Blueberry Yogurt Clafouti

This delicious dessert is a healthy alternative to blueberry pies that commonly contain large amounts of refined carbohydrates. It is mostly fruit, yogurt, milk and eggs, and it calls for only small amounts of whole wheat flour and honey.



Apple Pecan Tart with Chestnut Pastry and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

This dessert contains whole fruit, nuts and whole grains, with just a touch of maple syrup. It's a healthy alternative to traditional pecan and apple pies laden with white flour, sugar and sometimes even corn syrup.




Chocolate Almond Tarte

This dessert is light, delicious and gluten-free. It is also healthy, full of antioxidants from the cocoa powder and essential fatty acids from the almonds. High in protein and only slightly sweetened with a touch of honey, it is a great way to end a special meal.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fitness Or Fatness: What Matters Most?

A recent survey by Glamour magazine found that 97 percent of women had at least one negative thought about their body every day. It happened, on average, 13 times per day, but in some instances up to 100 times per day.

Thin may be in, but is it healthy?

Individuals who are overweight and in poor health can certainly benefit from losing weight, but those who are overweight and otherwise healthy often do not benefit from weight loss. In fact, overweight individuals may even be better off maintaining their excess pounds than losing weight. A review of the research reveals why everyone should focus on health and fitness, forget about fatness, and learn to love their bodies.

Weight Gain

As we age, some weight gain can be protective against certain diseases. Heavier women tend to have stronger bones and experience less bone loss after menopause. Before menopause, heavier women are less likely to develop breast cancer. A Harvard study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed more than 1,000 women for 8 years. Researchers found that the risk of breast cancer decreased as weight increased among premenopausal women.

Modest weight gain may even extend our lives. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the weights associated with the lowest death rates increased with age. As adults got older, weight gain reduced their risk of death. Other studies have come to the same conclusion, including a large review of 13 trials at the National Institutes of Health. Again, researchers found that the lowest mortality rates were associated with modest weight gain.

Where weight is gained can be an important factor. Excess fat tissue around the buttocks, hips and thighs is associated with strong bones and, according to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, weight gained around the waist has the opposite effect. Studies link excess abdominal fat to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease including hypertension and stroke, gallbladder disease, cancer and death.

Weight Loss

Losing weight has been linked to an increased risk of death and disease too. A study at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that for women with obesity-related health problems, weight loss lowered their risk of death by 20 percent, primarily due to a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the number of cancer deaths. Women who lost weight intentionally also reduced their risk of diabetes-related death by 30 to 40 percent. However, overweight women with no pre-existing illnesses who lost moderate amounts of weight (up to 19 pounds over the course of one year) had an increased chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes.

According to another study by the CDC, overweight adults with a body mass index of 26 to 29 who lost 15 percent or more of their maximum body weight died more than twice as often as those who lost less than 5 percent. Researchers studied more than 4,600 men and women for up to 16 years, adjusted for age, race, smoking, preexisting illnesses and maximum body mass index, and concluded that for overweight (but not obese) individuals, the risk of death increased with increasing weight loss.

In Finland researchers followed more than 40,000 people for 12 years and found that thinness was associated with a greater risk of death in both men and women. Compared to their heavier counterparts, thin women under the age of 65 and thin men of all ages had higher mortality rates. Among women 65 years and older, mortality had little association with weight and thin women died more often from cancer than from other causes.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute looked at weight loss over an even longer time span: three decades. Researchers found that weight loss over 30 years was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death, while maintaining a stable weight over 30 years was associated with a lower risk.

Weight Cycling

The majority of people who lose weight gain it back eventually. The disappointing truth is that even the most dedicated individuals are largely unsuccessful at significant and permanent weight loss. Studies show that after two to four years of regular exercise and a healthy diet, the average weight loss is less than 5 kilograms or 11 pounds.

Weight loss followed by weight gain, also called weight-cycling, can be hard on the cardiovascular system. Swedish researchers that analyzed 32 years of data from the famous Framingham Heart Study found that fluctuations in weight increased the risk of developing and dying from coronary artery disease. Once weight was gained, it was better to maintain that weight than to lose the extra pounds.

Physical and Metabolic Fitness

Fortunately, you don’t have to lose a lot of weight to benefit from exercising and eating well. People who are overweight and exercise regularly are more likely to be healthy than their thin but sedentary counterparts. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed more than 13,000 men and women for over 8 years. Researchers found that the highest levels of physical fitness were associated with the lowest risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes.

Another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed almost 17,000 adults for up to 16 years. Again, researchers found that the risk of death was lowest among physically active people, regardless of weight. They estimated that by age 80, regular exercise can add an extra one to two years to your life.

Being physically active and eating a diet low in simple carbohydrates (like sugar and flour) also promotes metabolic fitness, the optimal function of vital internal processes. Metabolic fitness can be evaluated by measuring blood pressure and levels of glucose, insulin, and triglycerides in the blood (among other factors). Individuals who are metabolically fit have a low risk of chronic illnesses like type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Because a healthy diet and regular exercise promote physical and metabolic fitness, these lifestyle changes alone can prevent and even reverse disease whether you lose weight or not. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology followed 72 adults through an intense three-week diet and exercise program. Some participants were type two diabetics, others were insulin resistant, and the rest had normal insulin levels.

At the end of the program, after only three weeks, every single person experienced lower blood pressure, reduced levels of insulin and triglycerides in their blood, and a reduction in body mass index. Results were most dramatic in those with type 2 diabetes, but everyone benefited and more than half the individuals who were insulin resistant reversed their condition within three weeks. Weight loss wasn’t great. Most people who were overweight and obese at the start of the study were still overweight and obese at the end of the study, but the researchers concluded that weight loss wasn’t necessary to reduce metabolic risk factors.

The Bottom Line

Losing weight is often a losing battle because our bodies are programmed to prevent weight loss. It’s a survival mechanism controlled by complex systems of hormones and neurological feedback that we have yet to fully unravel.

If you’re overweight, focus on fitness instead of fatness. Ask your doctor to give you individualized recommendations and track your success by measuring blood pressure, waist circumference, and levels of metabolic markers like:
Once you are physically and metabolically fit, forget about your weight and learn to love your body. Accept yourself as you are and remember that inner beauty matters most.

References:

Andres R et al. Impact of age on weight goals. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1985 Dec;103(6(Pt 2)):1030-3.

Andres R et al. Long-term effects of change in body weight on all-cause mortality. A review.
Annals of Internal Medicine. 1993 Oct 1;119(7 Pt 2):737-43.

Barnard RJ et al. Role of diet and exercise in the management of hyperinsulinemia and associated atherosclerotic risk factors. American Journal of Cardiology. 1992 Feb 15;69(5):440-4.

Blair SN et al. Physical fitness and all-cause mortality. A prospective study of healthy men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1989 Nov 3;262(17):2395-401.

Dawson-Hughes B et al. Bone density of the radius, spine, and hip in relation to percent of ideal body weight in postmenopausal women. Calcified Tissue International. 1987 Jun;40(6):310-4.

Dreisbach S. Shocking Body-Image News: 97% of Women Will Be Cruel to Their Bodies Today. We Say: Enough! Glamour. Available at http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2011/02/shocking-body-image-news-97-percent-of-women-will-be-cruel-to-their-bodies-today?currentPage=1 (accessed 3/2/11).

Hamm P et al. Large fluctuations in body weight during young adulthood and twenty-five-year risk of coronary death in men. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1989 Feb;129(2):312-8.

Harris TB et al. Overweight, weight loss, and risk of coronary heart disease in older women. The NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1993 Jun 15;137(12):1318-27.

Hartz AJ et al. The association of girth measurements with disease in 32,856 women. American Journal of Epidemiology.  1984 Jan;119(1):71-80.

Higgins M et al. Benefits and adverse effects of weight loss. Observations from the Framingham Study. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1993 Oct 1;119(7 Pt 2):758-63.

Kuk JL et al. Body mass index and hip and thigh circumferences are negatively associated with visceral adipose tissue after control for waist circumference. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007 Jun;85(6):1540-4.

Lee IM and Paffenbarger RS Jr. Change in body weight and longevity. Journal of the American Medical Association.  1992 Oct 21;268(15):2045-9.

Lissner L et al. Variability of body weight and health outcomes in the Framingham population. New England Journal of Medicine. 1991 Jun 27;324(26):1839-44.

London SJ et al. Prospective study of relative weight, height, and risk of breast cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1989 Nov 24;262(20):2853-8.

Major GC et al. Clinical significance of adaptive thermogenesis. International Journal of Obesity (London). 2007 Feb;31(2):204-12.

Manson JE et al. Body weight and mortality among women. New England Journal of Medicine. 1995 Sep 14;333(11):677-85.

Needham BL, et al. Trajectories of change in obesity and symptoms of depression: the CARDIA study. American Journal of Public Health. 2010 Jun;100(6):1040-6.

Paffenbarger RS Jr et al. Physical activity, all-cause mortality, and longevity of college alumni. New England Journal of Medicine. 1986 Mar 6;314(10):605-13.

Pamuk ER et al. Weight loss and mortality in a national cohort of adults, 1971-1987. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1992 Sep 15;136(6):686-97.

Pamuk ER et al. Weight loss and subsequent death in a cohort of U.S. adults. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1993 Oct 1;119(7 Pt 2):744-8.

Reis JP et al. Comparison of overall obesity and body fat distribution in predicting risk of mortality. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Jun;17(6):1232-9.

Reis JP et al. Overall obesity and abdominal adiposity as predictors of mortality in u.s. White and black adults. Annals of Epidemiology. 2009 Feb;19(2):134-42.

Rissanen A et al. Weight and mortality in Finnish men. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 1989;42(8):781-9.

Rissanen A et al. Weight and mortality in Finnish women. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 1991;44(8):787-95.

Schmidt MD et al. Predictive associations between alternative measures of childhood adiposity and adult cardio-metabolic health. International Journal of Obesity (London). 2010 Sep 28.

Stern L et al. The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004 May 18;140(10):778-85.

Terry RB et al. Contributions of regional adipose tissue depots to plasma lipoprotein concentrations in overweight men and women: possible protective effects of thigh fat. Metabolism. 1991 Jul;40(7):733-40.

Tremollieres FA et al. Vertebral postmenopausal bone loss is reduced in overweight women: a longitudinal study in 155 early postmenopausal women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 1993 Sep;77(3):683-6.

Williamson DF et al. Prospective study of intentional weight loss and mortality in never-smoking overweight US white women aged 40-64 years. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1995 Jun 15;141(12):1128-41.