Based on hundreds of scientific studies, the recommendation is to use a dietary supplement only if a nutrient is lacking in your diet.1

Numerous studies have demonstrated more harm than benefit from taking excessive supplements.  Here are a few examples:

In two major vitamin E lung cancer studies, the studies were stopped as individuals with lung cancer or lung disease got worse with the use of vitamin E supplements.

High doses of calcium worsened existing prostate cancer in another study.

Aspirin, vitamin E, and fish oils all keep the blood from clotting readily, so taken at high doses or taking all together, can be dangerous, especially if someone is already on a medication to thin the blood.

Further, there can be interactions with drugs a person may already be taking.  It is important to consult with your doctor, pharmacist, and registered dietitian  before investing  in a supplement that may pose harm.

Consuming a well balanced diet full of colorful and flavorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and dairy, is still at the heart of a healthy diet, without posing the risk of a toxic overdose.

 

Reference:

1 The American Cancer Society, American Institute for Cancer Research, as well as the US Dietary Guidelines Committee 2015-2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 6 Americans suffer a foodborne illness each year.   Much of this is preventable.  To insure packed lunches can be safely consumed, attention to proper food preparation and storage are essential.   When packing lunches, it is important to not only wash hands before handling food but also to keep knives and cutting surfaces washed thoroughly with soap and hot water between uses and not just “dusted off” of crumbs and meat.  I have 2 cutting boards, one for meat, and one for vegetables and fruits. Keeping each separate can prevent raw meat juices transferring to fresh vegetables and fruits which can cause illness.

Bacteria rapidly multiply between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is important to keep cold foods as cold as possible and hot foods hot.  If food is not refrigerated or kept to a proper temperature, consume within 2-3 hours to prevent food borne illness and its symptoms (abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, the most common).  Also, if protein-containing foods have been in the refrigerator for more than a few days or have reached their expiration date, it is best to discard them, rather than to send them in a lunch when bacteria may already have reached unsafe levels.

When packing cold foods such as sandwiches, lunchmeats, or cheese, it is advisable to pack them in a hard-sided plastic container and then “sandwich” that container between blue ice, wrap securely in a small plastic produce bag and rubber band it before putting into a small insulated lunch bag to insure the cold foods stay cold.  Wrapping food tightly in a lunch bag may help keep the blue ice in place, especially if it needs to be in a backpack with books.

When packing soups or stews for lunch, keep them cold until ready to reheat.  This will avoid bacteria from flourishing, and then reheat thoroughly before eating.  If hot foods or soup is packed into a thermos, be sure to preheat the thermos by pouring boiling water into it and draining it out, before adding the hot food, so as to keep the food hotter and at a safer temperature.

Taking just a few minutes to handle and pack food properly can make a huge difference in temperature and food safety and may prevent food borne illness from occurring.

For more information visit, www.foodsafety.gov.

LOW CALORIE SWEETENERS—ARE THEY SAFE?

 

Many people suspect that the low calorie sweeteners are less healthy for the body than sugar or other natural sweeteners but extensive scientific research of more than 100 human and animal studies, has not shown a clear relationship between the low calorie sweeteners and a detrimental effect on health nor increased body weight, preference for sweet taste nor sweetness sensitivity.  In fact, when low calorie sweeteners were used in place of sugar, it helped to reduce calorie intake and body weight.

On the other hand, excess sugars or natural sweeteners, have been associated not only with obesity, but also heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke in a number of studies.

So perhaps it would be wise to find ways to reduce our overall use of sugars, whether using water or tea or coffee in place of sugar-sweetened beverages, using tasty fresh fruit more often in place of sweetened desserts, and not fear using FDA-approved low calorie sweeteners (acesulfame K—Sunett, Sweet One; advantame—most recently approved; aspartame—Equal, Nutrasweet; neotame—Newtame; saccharin– Sweet and Low, Sugar Twin;  Siraitia grosvenoril swingle (SGFE) or Luo Han Guo—Nectresse, Pure Lo, Monkfruit in the Raw; sucralose—Splenda;  and stevia or Truvia, Sweet Leaf, PureVia, Enliten) in moderation.

Microbiome is defined as the organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, good or bad, that inhabit something, be it soil, water, plants, animals or humans.  The human gut microbiome is undergoing much scrutiny and scientific testing, as there is some evidence that immunity, as well as susceptibility to certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer may be influenced by our gut microbiome.

Antibiotics kill disease-causing bacteria but can also kill the good bacteria in the process.  Yogurt which contains probiotics in the live active cultures which make milk into yogurt, can help to re-establish the normal bacteria in our intestinal tracts after a course of antibiotics.  Other foods that are rich in probiotics are miso and pickled vegetables.  If blood pressure is an issue, caution against overuse of pickled vegetables and miso.  Kombucha, a fermented tea, which contains probiotics, has resulted in some deaths so is not recommended for those with compromised immune systems.

An alternative is to consume a wealth of fruits, vegetables, and whole grainswhich  contain prebiotics, which feed the probiotics and help to foster a healthy intestinal tract which, ultimately, will foster a healthier body.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, excess body fat is a cause of

approximately 132,800 U.S. cancer cases every year.  There is significant research evidence

that excess body fat increases the risk for 11 cancers, most notably, cancers of the esophagus, kidney, colon, rectum, breast, pancreas, and endometrium.  There is also sufficient evidence of increased risk for cancers of the liver, stomach, gall bladder, and ovaries associated with excess weight, according to the AICR.

The mechanism of this increased risk is attributed to the excess body fat triggering increased estrogen production which increases cell production.  Increased cell production, as experienced by those especially with an “apple” shape or a waist circumference that exceeds that of the hips, means a greater likelihood that cancers can develop and grow.

Excess body fat can also trigger an inflammatory response in the body.

So, to reduce body fat and cancers associated with it, the AICR recommends:

  • Avoid sugar drinks and limit intake of calorie-dense foods.
  • Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes such as beans
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes/day which, even in normal weight individuals, can help to

reduce the likelihood of developing certain cancers

WHAT ARE THE LATEST EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS?

Janice Shigehara, RD, CDE

It is customary to ask a person if he/she got their exercise session in for the day.  In the future it may be, how much time have you spent on your feet.  A recent study of people with Type 2 diabetes is causing us to question the notion that the duration and intensity of exercise are sufficient to assess whether a person has had enough exercise.  When the group of study subjects  were on their feet more (walking 2 hrs and standing 3 hrs per day broken up over the course of the day) they reduced their blood sugars 36 per cent more in a 24-hour period than when they only stood 1 hr. and walked 1 hr.  They also decreased their insulin resistance over a 24 hr. period more than when they biked for 65 minutes all at one time.  Turned out that when biking, the group was sitting more overall, than when the group was walking/standing for the total of 5 hrs.

 

The conclusion is not to give up the cardiovascular activity which, in the study improved glucose levels as did the walking/standing group, but consider ways of reducing overall sitting time, since the walking/standing group also experienced less insulin resistance, so overall better glycemic control.  This study involved people who have diabetes but could, if confirmed by other studies, help reduce the development of type 2 diabetes, since insulin resistance is a large factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

 

So, the challenge is to find ways to build more activity into our routine, whether it be standing when talking on the phone or getting up every 30 minutes from a sitting position, as the study group did, to walk or to do a few exercises, taking stairs instead of elevator, parking farther away, etc.   We are all likely to benefit from less sitting time, whether it be improved bone density, joint mobility, cardiovascular benefits (blood pressure), body fat, better sleep, or even just from an improved sense of well-being.

The latest guidelines for Americans, recommends limiting added sugars to 10% of calories.  For an average adult who needs 1800-2200 calories, this is 11-14 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  Keep in mind, that “added sugar” does not apply to foods high in natural sugar such as milk, yogurt, bread, unsweetened cereal, rice, beans, all  vegetables and unsweetened fruit.  Added sugars. or “empty calories” which have no nutritional value contributes to extra calories and extra weight which can  put us at risk for diabetes and heart disease. A 12 ounce can of soda has 9-12 teaspoons of sugar.

We consume about half of  our calories from added sugars from sodas, juice drinks, flavored coffees and teas and pastries and candies. Here are some practical recommendations to begin reducing your sugar intake:  Drink water in place of sugary drinks. Don’t like plain water?  Add some flavor, by putting a few cucumber slices, lemon slices or a few strawberries in your water. Buy a “fun size” or regular candy bar instead of the large bar or the entire package of candy.  At the office or at home, keep fresh fruit or natural fruit cups, baby carrots, prepackaged natural peanuts, and single serving raisins in your desk drawer or on the counter at home.  Craving ice cream?  Go out to purchase one cone or better yet, buy your ice cream in a cup.

A healthy diet consists of a variety of protein, fats and carbohydrates for essential nutrients to fuel our bodies. This will help keep your calories in a reasonable range to manage your weight.  The Dietary guidelines were developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA health and nutrition experts after reviewing scientific information.

Many people think unless they have symptoms of diabetes such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, or pain and/or numbness in their feet or hands, they will not develop complications. What is just as important to know is blood sugars can be high without any of the usual symptoms of diabetes and can be doing harm to your vessels in the eye, kidney, heart, or damage nerves leading to the feet or hands, without a person knowing it is happening. According to the California Department of Public Health, in California, approximately 1.5 million or 5% of our adult population has diabetes but doesn’t know it.

Are you aware of the risk factors for diabetes?

1.  Age 40 or older

2. Immediate family member with diabetes

3. Being  obese ( generally 30-40 pounds or more about ideal weight)

4.  Had diabetes during pregnancy

5.  Being Male

6.  Being diagnosed with high blood pressure

7.  Being physically inactive.

If you have 2 or more or the above risk factors, check with your doctor to see if additional testing is needed.  Prevention is the key. With awareness and some simple lifestyle changes, diabetes can be controlled and one’s quality of life can be maintained or improved.  Developing complications can often be minimized or avoided, if detected and acted upon early.

Prediabetes is a condition identified by a blood test your doctor orders.  Many people find out through a routine physical.  If your doctor tells you your blood glucose values are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.   It can be diagnosed by 3 different blood tests in the laboratory–fasting glucose test in which someone has not eaten for at least 8 hours, a 2 hour (75 gram) glucose test when you are asked to drink a sugary solution and then a blood is taken to see how your body handles a load of “sugar”, or an A1C or estimated average glucose test which does not have to be performed in a fasting state and reflects the average glucose levels over a 3 month period.

 

Test                                         Normal                     Prediabetes                  Diabetes

Fasting                                   <100 mg/dl                 100-125 mg/dl             >125 mg/dl

2 hour (75 g) glucose               <140mg/dl                   140-200 mg/dl            >200 mg/dl

A1C(est. Ave. Glucose)           <5.7%                          5.7-6.4%                    >6.4%

 

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is made from coconut milk or dried coconut
meat. It is used in a variety of settings, including cooking, skin
care, and even as an alternative fuel source, just to list a few. It
has been a staple in tropical regions of the world for thousands
of years. Dietitians have known and used coconut oil for some
time now since it has been used medically in individuals with
compromised fat digestion or sensitive gastrointestinal tracts.
It usually comes in a jar and it is commonly hardened, or as a solid. It quickly
changes into liquid form (oil) when heat is applied. Coconut oil, as with coconut milk,
contains saturated fat, so a moderate intake of coconut oil is recommended.
As consumers, look for virgin coconut oil which contains a type of saturated fat that
raises both good and bad cholesterol levels. So overall we recommend moderation when
consuming this oil while looking for ‘virgin’ on the label.