Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stay fit and trim for baby

Image: rodalenews.com

 Here's extra incentive to shed those few pounds the first pregnancy put on - you can reduce the risk of complications in the second pregnancy.

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that mothers who gained weight between pregnancies face a much greater risk of complications the second time around. The study of 150,000 Swedish women found that those who gained 3 or more units of body mass index (BMI) - compared to those who gained 1 or less - had a 78% greater chance of pre-eclampsia, 76% greater chance of gestational hypertension, and a bit more than twice the chance of gestational diabetes. Odds for Caesarean delivery and stillbirth were significantly greater.

Let's break it down a bit - to increase her BMI by 3 units, a 5-foot-5-inch woman weighing 125 lbs (BMI = 20.8) would need to gain 18 pounds. She would still fall within normal range, but would have much higher risk of complications with the second pregnancy.

Even modest increases in BMI before pregnancy could result in complications, even without the woman becoming overweight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

4 Ways to Build Healthy Bones

Women should be getting the nutrients they need from their diet, but many do not, due to a variety of reasons. A study from the University of Michigan School of Nursing found that reduced estrogen levels preceding menopause can impair vitamin K's ability to bind calcium to bone. Women can lose bone mass and density due to the acidity of the standard American diet.

Image: medimanage.com

1. Consider supplements. Research from Switzerland showed that potassium citrate improved the bones in post-menopausal women with low bone mass.
2. Choose a more alkaline diet rich in plant-foods.
3. Stop drinking soda - all of them. Regular, diet, or decaffeinated. Women 60 and older who drink soda had lower bone mass than those who didn't and loss increased with each drink, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
4. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Chronic inflammation can weaken bones by forcing the osteoclasts (which break down bone) into over-drive...and can cause the minerals stored in the bones to be broken down. A study on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) at the University of Texas showed that the compound slowed down the work of the osteoclasts and the loss of bone and muscle mass.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cinnamon - the Spice of Life

Even if most of us aren't curators of spices and herbs, there's generally one in everyone's spice shelf - cinnamon! Used in everything from Cinnabun to my old favorite - Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea by Harney & Sons - we rarely think of how this wonderful spice's scent and taste are impacting our health.

According to a a study presented at the American College of Nutrition's annual meeting, cinnamon could be a key player on the battlefield of metabolic syndrome (think obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin-resistance). An estimated 25-32% of Americans have this condition.

The study found that cinnamon increases antioxidant levels in the blood and decreases oxidative stress. Other research shows the spice reduces blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
Image: jcrowsmarketplace.com

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October is not about pink ribbons. It's a time to remember how diet has an impact.

1. Broccoli for Healthy Breasts 
Research from the University of Leicester suggests that a specific compound in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) may assist in inhibiting breast cancer development. Earlier studies have shown that foods rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C) may destroy cancer cells be reducing the expression of the 'epidermal growth factor receptor', which protects cancer cells. This study found that indole-3-carbinol helped reduce these receptors in 3 of 4 different types of breast cancer cells. Consider consuming more cruciferous vegetables for breast health.  

Reference: Carcinogenesis, February 2007
Image: livelovefruit.com

2. Pay Attention to Protein
A study found that elevated insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels were positively correlated with the consumption of protein - mainly from animal proteins - including milk. Inverse associations were found between IGF-1 levels and the intake of vegetables and beta-carotene (think orange-colored fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy greens). Previous studies have shown elevated IGF-1 levels are associated with various cancers including prostate, colorectal, and pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Reference: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2007

Image: poorexcuses.com

3. Fiber Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
A U.K. Women's Cohort Study involving over 35,000 women found that pre-menopausal women who consumed 30 grams of fiber a day had HALF the risk of breast cancer compared to those who ate less than 20 grams per day. Researchers suggest that, because estrogen levels are higher in pre-menopausal women, dietary fiber intake earlier in life may be important in regulating hormones and lowering the risk for breast cancer. Fiber's role in the body includes removing excess hormones, carcinogens, and cholesterol. Foods with higher fiber include whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.

 Image: hsph.harvard.edu

Bonus: Additional study findings showed that high protein consumption and low vitamin C intake were associated with increased risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Reference: Epidemiology, January 2007

Learn more at The Cancer Project.org