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American Sugar: The Untold Story.

There is a metabolic difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. The simple ones become glucose soon after they are eaten. The complex ones take longer to turn into sugar and are less apt to spike insulin and cause energy crashes down the line. But that isn’t the only difference between the two.

Almost forty years ago scientists had an interest in the relationship of diet to health, specifically of sugar intake to immunity. But their curiosity went past simple sugar to include carbohydrates other than glucose. The cells that are the backbone of the immune system are supposed to kill, swallow, and dispose of alien bodies, including bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Scientists at Loma Linda University in California examined the activity of neutrophilic phagocytes (cells that dissolve the enemy) after subjects ingested glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, or orange juice and found that “…all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria…” (Sanchez, Reeser, et al. 1973). Looking more closely, the researchers also discovered that the greatest effects occurred within the first two hours after eating, but “…the effects last for at least 5 hours.” (Ibid.) If there is any promise, it’s that the effects can be undone by fasting from added sugars for the next two or three days.

At the start of the twentieth century, Americans consumed only about five pounds of sugar a year. By the fifties, that had grown to almost 110 pounds a year, and to more than 152 by the year 2000. Corn sweeteners account for 85 of those pounds. America’s sweet tooth increased 39% between 1950 and 2000 as the use of corn sweetener octupled.

Although the statistics above are decades old, its message is contemporary. High-fructose corn syrup has become the bad boy of the anti-sugar crusade. HFCS began replacing sugar in soft drinks in the 1980’s, after it was portrayed by marketers as a healthful replacement for demon sugar. It didn’t hurt the industry that it cost less, either. The biological effects of sugar and HFCS are the same, however. Neither has any food value — no vitamins, protein, minerals, antioxidants, or fiber — but they do displace the more nutritious elements of one’s diet, and we tend to consume more than we need to maintain our weight, so we gain.

Even though the number of calories from the glucose in a slice of bread or other starch is the same as that from table sugar (half fructose and half glucose), they are metabolized differently and have different effects on the body. While fructose is metabolized by the liver, glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body. When fructose reaches the liver, especially in liquid form (as in soda), it overwhelms the organ and is almost immediately converted to fat. (Taubes. 2011)

Innate immunity is that which occurs as part of your natural makeup and defends you against infection by other organisms. Short-term hyperglycemia, which might come from a pint of vanilla, has been found to affect all the major components of the innate immune system and to impair its ability to combat infection. Reduced neutrophil activity, but not necessarily reduced neutrophil numbers, is one of several reactions to high sugar intake. (Turina. 2005) Way back in the early 1900’s, researchers noted a relationship between glucose levels and infection frequency among diabetes sufferers, but it wasn’t until the 1940’s that scientists found that diabetics’ white cells were sluggish. (Challem. 1997) More recent study has corroborated the diabetes-infection connection, agreeing that neutrophil phagocytosis is impaired when glucose control is less than adequate. (Lin. 2006) Impaired immune activity is not limited to those with diabetes. As soon as glucose goes up, immune function goes down.

Some people think they’re doing themselves a favor by using artificial sweeteners. Once the brain is fooled into thinking a sweet has been swallowed, it directs the pancreas to make insulin to carry the “sugar” to the cells for energy. After the insulin finds out it’s been cheated of real sugar, it tells the body to eat in order to get some, and that creates artificial hunger, which causes weight increase from overeating. Even environmental scientists have a concern with fake sweeteners in that they appear in the public’s drinking water after use. You can guess how that works. (Mawhinney. 2011)

Mineral deficiencies, especially prevalent in a fast-food world, contribute to immune dysfunction by inhibiting all aspects of the system, from immune cell adherence to antibody activity. Paramount among minerals is magnesium, which is part of both the innate and acquired immune responses. (Tam. 2003) Epidemiological studies have connected magnesium intake to decreased incidence of respiratory infections (PDR. 2000). But sugar pushes magnesium — and other minerals — out of the body. (Milne. 2000) This will compromise not only immune function, but also bone integrity. (Tjäderhane. 1998). Mix a sweet alcohol cocktail and find the whammy doubled. (Fuchs. 2002).

Zinc has been touted for its ability to shorten the duration of the common cold. Like magnesium, zinc levels decrease with age, and even tiny deficiencies can have a large effect on immune health, particularly in the function of the thymus gland, which makes the T-cells of the immune system. Zinc supplementation improves immune response in both the young and the old. (Haase. 2009) (Bogden. 2004) (Bondestam. 1985) All the microminerals, in fact, are needed in minute amounts for optimal growth and development…and physiology. Low intakes suppress immune function by affecting T-cell and antibody response. Thus begins a cycle whereby infection prevents uptake of the minerals that could prevent infection in the first place. Adequate intakes of selenium, zinc, copper, iron plus vitamins B6, folate, C, D, A, and E have been found to counteract potential damage by reactive oxygen species and to enhance immune function. (Wintergest. 2007)

Who would have viewed something as sweet as sugar as being so hostile to its host? It likes to let itself in, but has the nasty character of pushing everything else out.

Reference

Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov 1973; Vol 26, 1180–1184

Profiling Food Consumption in America. USDA http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

Taubes G. “Is Sugar Toxic?” in New York times Magazine, 13 April, 2011

Turina M, Fry DE, Polk HC Jr. Acute hyperglycemia and the innate immune system: clinical, cellular, and molecular aspects. Crit Care Med. 2005 Jul;33(7):1624–33.

Challem J and Heumer RP. The Natural health Guide to Beating the Supergerms. 1997. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. Pp. 124–125

Lin JC, Siu LK, Fung CP, Tsou HH, Wang JJ, Chen CT, Wang SC, Chang FY. Impaired phagocytosis of capsular serotypes K1 or K2 Klebsiella pneumoniae in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients with poor glycemic control. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Aug;91(8):3084–7.

Mawhinney DB, Young RB, Vanderford BJ, Borch T, Snyder SA. Artificial sweetener sucralose in U.S. drinking water systems. Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Oct 15;45(20):8716–22.

Tam M, Gómez S, González-Gross M, Marcos A. Possible roles of magnesium on the immune system. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Oct;57(10):1193–7.

PDR: Physicians’ Desk reference for Herbal Medicines. Magnesium. 2nd edition. Mintvale NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000: 5340540

Milne David B, PhD and Forrest H. Nielsen, PhD. The Interaction Between Dietary Fructose and Magnesium Adversely Affects Macromineral Homeostasis in Men. J Am Coll Nutr February 2000 vol. 19 no. 1 31–37

Tjäderhane Leo, and Markku Larmas. A High Sucrose Diet Decreases the Mechanical Strength of Bones in Growing Rats. J. Nutr. October 1, 1998 vol. 128 no. 10 1807–1810

Fuchs, Nan Kathryn Ph.D. Magnesium: A Key to Calcium Absorption. The Magnesium Web Site on November 22, 2002. http://www.mgwater.com/calmagab.shtml

Haase H, Rink L. The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging.. Immun Ageing. 2009 Jun 12;6:9.

Bogden JD.. Influence of zinc on immunity in the elderly.. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(1):48–54.

Bondestam M, Foucard T, Gebre-Medhin M. Subclinical trace element deficiency in children with undue susceptibility to infections. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1985 Jul;74(4):515–20.

Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Contribution of selected vitamins and trace elements to immune function. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(4):301–23. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Smolders I, Loo JV, Sarre S, Ebinger G, Michotte Y. Effects of dietary sucrose on hippocampal serotonin release: a microdialysis study in the freely-moving rat. Br J Nutr. 2001 Aug;86(2):151–5.

Jack Challem, Burton Berkson, M.D., Ph.D., Melissa Diane Smith Glucose and Immunity http://www.diabeteslibrary.org/View.aspx?url=Article638 Accessed 11/2011

Van Oss CJ. Influence of glucose levels on the in vitro phagocytosis of bacteria by human neutrophils. Infect Immun. 1971 Jul;4(1):54–9.

Bernstein J, Alpert S, et al Depression of lymphocyte transformation following oral glucose ingestion. Am J Clin Nutr. 1977; 30: 613

Robert A. Good, Ellen Lorenz. Nutrition and cellular immunity. International Journal of Immunopharmacology. Vol 14, Iss 3, Apr 1992, Pp. 361–366

Vitamins? Why?

vitaminsDo you take vitamins? Yes? Why? No? Why not?  Confusing, isn’t it? Can we ever get to the bottom of the yes-no controversy?

First of all, let’s find out what we’re talking about.

The word “vitamins” describes organic substances that are quite diverse in function and structure.  It was initially felt that these compounds could be obtained through a normal diet, and that they were capable of promoting growth and development, and of maintaining life.  The word itself was coined by a Polish biochemist named Casimir Funk, in 1911.  He deemed these substances to be chemical amines, thinking that all contained a nitrogen atom.  Since they were considered to be vital to existence (“vita” means “life” in Latin), they were called “vitamines.”  After it was discovered that they all did not have a nitrogen atom, and, therefore, were not amines, the terminal “e” was dropped.  Funk was working in London at the time, at the Lister Institute, where he isolated a substance without which chickens would suffer neurological inflammation.

The lettered names of the vitamins were ascribed to them in the order of their discovery.  Vitamin K, however, is the exception.  Its label was given by the Danish researcher Henrik Dam, from the word “koagulation.”

If a vitamin is improperly absorbed, or is absent from the diet, a deficiency exists and a specific disease may surface, such as Beriberi, which was noted by William Fletcher in 1905 when symptoms appeared in populations whose diet consisted mostly of polished rice, lacking the thiamine-rich husk.  Lack of thiamine, or vitamin B1, causes emotional disturbances, physical weakness, heart failure, impaired sensory perception, and, in severe circumstances, eventual death.

Scurvy, a deficiency of vitamin C, was once a common ailment of sailors and others who were out to sea for a longer time than their fruits and vegetables could remain edible.  The Latin name of this condition that caused bleeding from the mucus membranes and spongy gums is “scorbutus,” from which we get “ascorbic acid.”  James Lind, a surgeon in the Royal Navy, learned in the 1750s that scurvy could be treated with citrus fruits, and he wrote about his experiments in his 1753 book, “A Treatise of the Scurvy.”

If vitamins are so “vital,” what, exactly, are their roles in human health and well-being?  Vitamin A was first synthesized in 1947, though discovered around 1912 by researchers Elmer McCollum and M. Davis, and later isolated from butter by Yale scientists Thomas Osborne and Lafayette Mendel.  This nutrient contains carotene compounds that are responsible for transmitting light signals to the retina of the eye.  McCollum also uncovered the B vitamins, but later researchers isolated each of the individual factors.

We already know that a lack of B1 causes Beriberi, while a deficiency of B2 may lead to inflammation of the lining of the mouth.  Also called riboflavin, B2 is responsible for the reactions of enzymes, as is its partner, B3 (niacin).  In general, the gamut of B vitamins is involved in the same metabolic processes.  It was decided that a B vitamin must meet specific criteria:  it must be water-soluble, must be essential for all cells, and must function as a coenzyme.  B12 and folate have the added responsibility of being involved in the synthesis of nucleic acid.  Folate is the form of the nutrient naturally found in food, while folic acid is synthetic. Great excesses of one B vitamin can cause deficiencies of the others.  Therefore, if taken as supplements, it is recommended that they be taken together.

Besides preventing scurvy, as mentioned, vitamin C helps the body to make collagen, the protein that acts as the framework for the body.  Collagen is a major component of ligaments and cartilage, it strengthens blood vessels, and it is responsible for skin strength and elasticity.  Vitamin C was the first to be artificially made, in 1935.

Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, but a prohormone, meaning that it is a precursor to a hormone, called 1,25-D, which helps the body to make its own steroids, such as cholesterol, a substance absolutely necessary to the integrity of each of our trillions of cells.  Vitamin D is needed to maintain correct calcium and phosphorus levels, to assure proper bone mineralization, and to support the immune system.  A severe deficiency leads to rickets, a softening of the bones—usually in children—that was studied in 1922 by Edward Mellanby.

Vitamin E is actually a group of isomers (like-structured molecules) that function as antioxidants.  Study of this fat-soluble nutrient has focused on its purported benefits to the cardiovascular system. University of California researchers discovered vitamin E while studying green, leafy vegetables, in the 1920s.

Another fat-soluble substance, vitamin K is used by the body to assist in the manufacture of bone, and in the manufacture of blood clotting proteins, without which serious bleeding episodes may occur.  This nutrient has been available from green leafy vegetables and from the brassica family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.

Now the question is, “Can we get all these nutrients from our food, or is supplementation necessary?”

Working at the University of Texas Biochemical Institute, Dr. Donald Davis led a crop-nutrient study in 2004.  He and his team found that the nutrient value of forty-three garden crops has declined considerably over the past fifty years.  As reported in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” in December of that year, the forty-three crops showed “statistically reliable declines” in protein, calcium, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  Some nutrients could not be compared because their values were not reported in the 1950s.  They include magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin E, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals.

After accounting for possible confounders, the study concluded that the change in nutrient value could be ascribed to changes in cultivated varieties, in which there could have been a trade-off between crop yield and nutrient value.  Dr. Davis added that farmers are paid by the weight of a crop, not by its food value.

Some innovative farming techniques have given rise to faster-growing crops, which, by virtue of their seed-to-market time, do not have sufficient time to develop their nutrients.  They do not have the chance to absorb everything they need from the soil.

Crop rotation has fallen into disfavor by some farms because it requires more planning and management skills than are at hand, thus increasing the complexity of farming.  Rotation of crops helps to reduce insect and disease problems, improves soil fertility, reduces soil erosion, and limits biocide carryover.  If, however, a single crop is a big moneymaker for the farm, why should it bother even to try to grow something else?  Why bother to rotate crops when chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides can help to guarantee a bumper crop?  Could nutrient value be affected by using these artificial chemicals?  Do these materials come into our bodies?  Do we have the proper kinds and amounts of nutrients to detoxify them?  Maybe we do; maybe not.

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen to organic nitrogen, thus contributing to the food value of the crop.  Certain crops, like the legumes, are better than others at replacing nitrogen lost from the soil.  Nitrogen is part of a protein molecule.  Without nitrogen there is no protein.  While it is beneficial to the food and the soil to plant a legume following the harvest of a more lucrative planting, it is not often done.

Therefore, the same plant in place continues to withdraw the same minerals repeatedly, year after year, with little chance for replenishment except by chemical means, if at all.  How many of us would prefer to get our dietary needs from unnatural sources, like iron from rusted nails, or zinc from galvanized wire?

In a study of peaches and pears published in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” in 2002, Marina Carbonaro, of the National Institute for Nutrition Studies, in Rome, reported a difference in the nutrition content of organic versus traditionally raised fruits.  Amounts of polyphenols, citric and ascorbic acids, and alpha-tocopherol were increased in the organically grown crops.  She and her colleagues concluded that the improved antioxidant defense of the plants developed as a result of organic cultivation methods.  Which do you think has more vitamin C?

Here is a sampling of how the nutrient content of broccoli and potatoes sold in Canada has changed from 1951 to 1999.  This information was compiled by Jeffrey Christian.

Broccoli, Raw, 3 spears, 93g. 100/93=1.08
Calcium (mg) Iron
(mg)
Vitamin A (I.U.) Vitamin C (mg) Thiamine (mg) Riboflavin (mg) Niacin (mg)
1951 130.00 1.30 3500 104.0 0.10 0.21 1.10
1972 87.78 0.78 2500 90.0 0.09 0.20 0.78
1999 48.30 0.86 1542 93.5 0.06 0.12 1.07
% Change -62.85 -33.85 -55.94 -10.10 -40.00 -42.86 -2.73
Potatoes, one potato, peeled before boiling, 136g. 100/136=.74
Calcium (mg) Iron
(mg)
Vitamin A (I.U.) Vitamin C (mg) Thiamine (mg) Riboflavin (mg) Niacin (mg)
1951 11.00 0.70 20.00 17.00 0.11 0.04 1.20
1972 5.74 0.49 0.00 16.39 0.09 0.03 1.15
1999 7.97 0.30 0.00 7.25 0.09 0.02 1.74

The USDA, in its statistical bulletin # 978, made public in June, 2002, titled “The Changing Landscape of U. S. Milk Production,” admitted that milk production has increased because of “advances in animal nutrition and health, improved artificial breeding techniques, and the recent addition of biotechnology, such as…rbST…”
rbST is a hormone that is administered to cows to increase milk production.  Take a look at how milk production has changed, and then decide if there might be implications that could involve humans.

In 1950, a single cow (I mean one cow, not an unmarried cow.) produced 5,314 pounds of milk.  By 1975, she increased her output to 10,360 pounds.  In 2000, that amount increased to 18,204 pounds.  The USDA admits that “…a 76-percent increase in milk per cow since 1975 is substantial.”  Substantial?  How about phenomenal, even miraculous?  Could a factory have increased its output by seventy-five percent in twenty-five years?  Could a weight lifter elevate that much of a weight increase in a military press as he did twenty-five years ago?  Could recombinant bovine somatotropin enter the milk supply and affect human growth and development, or even contribute to human misery?

Not only do modern agricultural techniques affect the quality of food, but also do the processes by which food is processed and packaged.  To prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria, some canned foods are exposed to temperatures that compromise their nutritional value.  Acidic foods, like tomatoes, are excused from excessive heat because their nature does not support the growth of food poisoning bacteria.  Others are heated to temperatures high enough to destroy bacteria, yeasts, and molds that could cause foods to spoil.  Heating to 250 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes not only kills pathogens, but also denigrates the potency of water-soluble vitamins.  If these foods are consumed without also consuming the water in which they are prepared, nutrition is sacrificed.

The USDA has a table of nutrient retention factors that compare the nutritional value of processed foods.  This table includes most nutrients from alpha-tocopherol to zinc.  It is noted that folate, for example, a nutrient easily lost in food preservation and preparation, is diminished by almost 50% in canned fruits as compared to fresh and frozen.  Additionally, canned foods are higher in sodium, and their texture is softer than either fresh or frozen.  The mineral and protein values of canned foods are usually undisturbed.  In rare instances, as with tomatoes and pumpkin, nutrient value is retained, or even increased, by canning.  We should note that canned fruits and vegetables are better than none at all.

Frozen foods, on the other hand, retain much of the nutrition they are destined to have.  The folate retention factor for frozen fruits is ninety-five, contrasted to fifty for canned.  There are some compromises, though, because frozen foods need to be blanched prior to being frozen.  Blanching, however, is no worse than what happens to foods during normal cooking activity.  This means that frozen vegetables provide levels of nutrition similar to fresh, provided they are stored and handled properly.  The “International Journal of Food Science and Technology,” reported in June of 2007 that the freezing process alone does not affect vitamin levels, but that the initial processing and later storage do.  About 25% of vitamin C and a higher percentage of folate are lost through the blanching process.  These numbers will vary according to the processing techniques.

An advantage to canned and frozen foods is that the foods themselves are harvested at their maximum stage of development, containing all the vitamins and minerals they could possibly extract from their environments.  What we call “fresh” vegetables are usually anything but.  They have been picked before their maximum ripeness so that they can be shipped across the country.  If not harvested locally, “fresh” vegetables are more accurately labeled as “raw,” or “unprocessed.”  Water-soluble vitamins, like the B complex and vitamin C, are affected by exposure to light and air.  Vitamin A is jeopardized by exposure to light, as well.  The amount of time that a raw vegetable spends in storage may take its toll on nutrient integrity, also.

Typical Maximum Nutrient Losses (as compared to raw food)
Vitamins Freeze Dry Cook Cook+Drain Reheat
Vitamin A 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
  Retinol Activity Equivalent 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
  Alpha Carotene 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
  Beta Carotene 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
  Beta Cryptoxanthin 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
  Lycopene 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
  Lutein+Zeaxanthin 5% 50% 25% 35% 10%
Vitamin C 30% 80% 50% 75% 50%
Thiamin 5% 30% 55% 70% 40%
Riboflavin 0% 10% 25% 45% 5%
Niacin 0% 10% 40% 55% 5%
Vitamin B6 0% 10% 50% 65% 45%
Folate 5% 50% 70% 75% 30%
  Food Folate 5% 50% 70% 75% 30%
  Folic Acid 5% 50% 70% 75% 30%
Vitamin B12 0% 0% 45% 50% 45%
Minerals Freeze Dry Cook Cook+Drain Reheat
Calcium 5% 0% 20% 25% 0%
Iron 0% 0% 35% 40% 0%
Magnesium 0% 0% 25% 40% 0%
Phosphorus 0% 0% 25% 35% 0%
Potassium 10% 0% 30% 70% 0%
Sodium 0% 0% 25% 55% 0%
Zinc 0% 0% 25% 25% 0%
Copper 10% 0% 40% 45% 0%

Can we get all the vitamins and minerals we need from food?  No.

Take a look at vitamin C, one of the most-studied nutrients.  Because of its fragile nature, vitamin C, a popular water-soluble supplement, needs special handling.  This characteristic may explain why it seems to have been a major focus of the food business for years.  It is extremely sensitive to heat, and slightly less so to light, and time.  Loss of vitamin C during processing ranges from about 10% in beets to almost 90% in carrots.  The amount of vitamin C at the start has no bearing on the outcome.  It’s the percentage that makes the matter a real concern.  Since this vitamin is easily oxidized, it is difficult to measure levels in drained liquids.  That goes for the cooking water, as well.  Canned foods are further insulted by cooking at high temperatures for a long time, without a lid.  It is nutritionally prudent to include the water from the can in the meal.  Otherwise, the ascorbic acid goes down the drain.  The table below demonstrates changes in vitamin C levels resulting from canning alone.

Ascorbic acid (g / kg−1 wet weight) in fresh and canned vegetables
Commodity Fresh Canned % Loss
Broccoli 1.12 0.18 84
Corn 0.042 0.032 0.25
Carrots 0.041 0.005 88
Green peas 0.40 0.096 73
Spinach 0.281 0.143 62
Green beans 0.163 0.048 63
Beets 0.148 0.132 10
J Sci Food Agric 87:930–944 (2007) Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Joy C Rickman, Diane M Barrett and Christine M Bruhn

 Freezing has less impact on nutrient levels than other types of processing. Because foods are harvested at their maximum maturity stage before freezing, they already contain the most nutritive value they can be expected to have. The table that follows shows losses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) after periods of storage at various temperatures, starting at room temperature (20° C; 68° F), through the refrigerator crisper drawer (4° C; 39° F), to the freezer (-20° C; -4° F).

Losses of ascorbic acid (% dry weight) due to fresh and frozen storage
Commodity Fresh, 20 ◦C,
7 Days
Fresh, 4 ◦C,
7 Days
Frozen, −20 ◦C,
12 Months
Broccoli 56 0 10
Carrots 27 10
Green beans 55 77 20
Green peas 60 15 10
Spinach 100 75 30
J Sci Food Agric 87:930–944 (2007) Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1. Vitamins C and B and phenolic compounds. Joy C Rickman, Diane M Barrett and Christine M Bruhn

Vitamin C does continue to degrade after long periods of freezing, but at a slower rate. What seems to be the main factor in this process is the moisture content of the food at the outset. Notice that refrigerating foods as soon as they come home from the market plays a serious role in maintaining nutritive value. The cook is the penultimate figure in the saga of a food’s life. The method of cooking can cause loss of ascorbic acid at the rate of 15% to 55%. Losses in canned products are probably minimal because the food already sits in water. Oddly, unheated canned products are occasionally comparable to that which is cooked fresh. But who has the wherewithal to determine that at home? Remember that, because vitamin C oxidizes in air, the value of frozen foods may be substantially higher than fresh foods that have been stored for a long time or under sub-optimal conditions. So…fresh (raw) may not always be the best. Whatever the case, additional research is expected to substantiate changes in vitamin C levels caused by cooking habits. Microwaving, for example, may have an unexpected influence, based on the solubility and diffusion of certain food solids, such as sugars that may diminish faster than ascorbic acid, leaving vitamin C behind.

It is necessary to realize that carrots are not exactly heralded for their vitamin C value in the first place, so losses are relatively insignificant. Also, note that sources of information may present nonconcurring results due to variations in measurement techniques, quality of raw ingredients, and other variables.

The water-soluble B vitamins (all are water-soluble) suffer a fate similar to that of ascorbic acid. Thiamin, the least stable of the vitamins to thermal indignity, is most sensitive to degradation caused by food processing. But, since fruits and vegetables are not exceptional sources of this nutrient, its retention or loss does not represent overall nutrient retention or loss of a particular food. Riboflavin is unstable in the presence of light. Processing and storage / display play a role in its stability. Clear glass containers can cause this vitamin to dwindle. Realization of this fact by the food industry is one reason that certain foods are now in opaque containers. The exception to the B-vitamin family is vitamin B12 because it is found mostly in animal products. The same considerations that apply to vitamin C are appropriate for the B vitamins.

The normal eating habits of Americans suggest that we are woefully inadequate in meeting dietary recommendations to achieve optimum well-being and health.  Most of us do not eat the recommended number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  For some nutrients, daily intake needs may be higher for some populations than for others, especially those in particularly vulnerable groups, such as those with gastrointestinal problems or poor absorption, those who are chronically ill, those who are alcohol or drug dependent, and the elderly.

The June 19, 2002 edition of the “Journal of the American Medical Association” recanted that august body’s negative position on vitamin supplements when it advised all adults to take at least one multivitamin tablet a day.  The article, “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults,” authored by Robert H. Fletcher, MD, MSc, and others, agreed that suboptimal levels of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancers.  It added that risks for other chronic diseases are increased by low levels of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E.

Because it is accepted that high homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease, the AMA’s recommendation for optimal levels of cardio-specific supplements are well founded.

Depending on a person’s physiological state, he or she may need more of a particular nutrient than is available from a multivitamin alone.  The bioavailability of a specific nutrient from a high quality supplement is close to one hundred percent, compared to a food whose life experiences might have been less than ideal.  In a society that falls short of consuming the five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables that are recommended, it would be inane to ask them to eat more fruits and vegetables to get the nutrients they lack.

This does not mean that a person should take a little of this and a little of that because he read about it somewhere.  On the contrary, supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and herbs is a scientific enterprise that entails one’s medical history, both distant and recent past, one’s current physiological state, and even one’s blood chemistry.

Do you take vitamins?

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Plate and Weight

portion controlPortion control and super-sized everything have taken their toll on the waists of the world, especially in the United States. In every town and city you’ll find an all-you-can-eat buffet within easy driving distance. If not that, how about a diner / restaurant that piles the food so high you can’t see the person across the table? The dining establishments may be feeding the frenzy, but it is the consumers who are getting out of control. And not just when eating out. Dinner plates are larger than ever, and, being good Americans, we feel obligated to empty them.

An article in the July, 2007, edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association defines at least one cause of the expanding American waistline:  overeating.  The indictment that, “…portion distortion begins as early as 3 years of age” is quite the slap.  Regardless of gender or hemisphere of residence, education or employment, portion size has the same impact.  “People tend to eat more from larger-sized restaurant portions (in the general range of 30% to 50% more) and they tend to serve themselves and eat more from larger-sized packages (in the general range of 20% to 40% more).”  It really is easy to “make room for more” when your plate is filled, when, all along, you’d have been satisfied with six ounces of spaghetti instead of the ten sitting in front of you.  All of us are unable to estimate the number of calories we’ve just eaten, and it gets harder to do as the pile of food gets taller and wider.   “…even registered nurses and dietitians—are inaccurate at estimating the calories from large portions.”  (Wansink. 2007)

Bigger is better when it comes to the size of the guardian angel that accompanies you through that dark alley downtown on your way home from the late shift.  Besides that, a pile of fifties is better when bigger.  When it comes to food, though, we need to be more aware of bigger.  Early in 2001, the Centers for Disease Control noticed that 61% of Americans are overweight, an increase from the 55% of only a few years earlier.  (Peregrin. 2001)  That can’t be blamed on the food industry, whose job is to sell food, not good nutrition.

Lots of us were taught by Mom to clean our plates.  That wasn’t too much of a concern when the dinner plate was 9 inches in diameter.  Somewhere along the line, though, it grew to ten inches, then to twelve, and, in some venues, fourteen.  We have a friend who bought a farmhouse built in the 1940’s—a real beauty, too.  When his wife tried to put the dinnerware into the built-in cabinets, the plates wouldn’t fit.  They were too big.  A little nosing around found that dinner plates were less than 9 inches in diameter back then.

Since we’re unlikely to change plates at home, we can settle for smaller servings.  But the psychological factor might make us feel deprived.  Using a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-incher will save between 100 and 500 calories a day.  A pound equates to about 3500 calories, so the  math is easy.  By swapping out plates, you can lose between 0.2 and 1.0 pounds a week.  Losing weight slowly gives you ample time to get accustomed to the new regimen…and you likely will not regain what you’ve lost.

Many Americans view eating out as a treat, meant to be a full, rewarding experience.  In a group, it’s difficult to spoil it for others by ordering an appetizer as an entrée.  On the other hand, many restaurateurs disagree, saying an appetizer is perfectly acceptable as a main meal.  Although you can’t order half a meal and expect to pay half the price, you can take it home.  With home cooked meals, in lieu of buying new dinnerware, try using a salad plate.  In a little while your appetite will shrink to fit the size of the dish… and so will your belt.

References

Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Vol 107, Is 7 , Pp 1103-1106, July 2007
Portion Size Me: Downsizing Our Consumption Norms
Brian Wansink, PhD, Koert van Ittersum, PhD

Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 101(6); Jun 2001: 620
A Super-sized Problem:  Restaurant Chains Piling on the Food
Tony Peregrin

Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 103(2); Feb 2003: 231-234
Expanding portion sizes in the US marketplace: Implications for nutrition counseling
Lisa R Young, PhD, RD and Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH

Arch Intern Med. 2007 Jun 25;167(12):1277-83.
Portion control plate for weight loss in obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a controlled clinical trial.
Pedersen SD, Kang J, Kline GA.

Plate Size Might Influence Weight Gain
MELISSA CONRAD STÖPPLER, MD
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=77662

Size of a Diet Plate
Ashley Jacob, RD
http://www.livestrong.com/ARTICLE/469270-SIZE-OF-A-DIET-PLATE/

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Calorie Restriction Extends Lifespan

calorie restrictionCalorie restriction (CR) in animals extends longevity by a considerable margin. Both primary and secondary aging processes are decelerated by limiting foods to those that are high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. Studies on humans are only now in progress, while those in animals have been unfolding for a few years. One of the boons of CR is a lowered core body temperature, which is that at which all physiological activity is most efficient. Not only this, but also fat reduction and consequent cardiac health can defer the foibles and imperfections of old age.

Studies at Washington University (St. Louis, MO) and the U. of California at San Francisco, sponsored in part by the Calorie Restriction Society, have found that” (calorie) restriction in animals seems to be the fountain of youth…” Studies on people may or may not yield the same results, primarily because free-living humans are not accepting of the same externally imposed restrictions as are endured by the animals. Human variables that need to be addressed include alterations in cognitions, behaviors, responses to stressors, and effects on other markers of health. However, humans have shown some of the same “…adaptations that are…involved in slowing primary aging in rats and mice.” Most notable here is a reduction in the inflammatory markers known as C-reactive protein and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha.

Primary aging is the gradual and inevitable process of physical deterioration that occurs throughout life.  You know, the aches and pains, the slowed movements, the loss of 20-20 vision, decreased resistance to infections, impaired hearing, and the rest of the baggage.  Secondary aging results from diseases and poor health practices (read lifestyle) that include smoking, torpor, booze and obesity, all of which can contribute to diseases in the first place.

Does CR work in people?  Yes, as long as it is reasonable…and that varies from person to person.  Decreasing calorie intake by only a few hundred can make a significant difference in health and longevity by reducing body fat, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and avoiding degenerative diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.  Don’t forget about lowered body temperature, where the Washington University researchers learned that life expectancy was increased in animals. (Soare, 2011)  Of course, we can’t definitely tell how this affects people because we don’t know when each is programmed to die.  It is such, however, that family history of salubrious long life can be predictive of an individual’s longevity.

You might be interested to know that a nutritional supplement demonstrates an effect that mirrors calorie restriction.  We advise that you not yet jump for joy without the realization that this needs to be approached sensibly, which means being attentive to calorie intake. You can’t go wild on doughnuts, white flour bagels, ice cream and other culinary nonsense. You see, the mechanism behind calorie restriction’s success is not completely understood, but it is presumed that a protein called sirtuin is responsible for control of the aging process, and that CR directs the activity of sirtuin. Part of the aging procedure involves cellular stress, particularly in the mitochondria, the power plants of the cell that make energy. If we can slow down oxidation by ramping up the mitochondria’s defense mechanisms and simultaneously inhibiting the attack of reactive oxygen species, then we might be able to stave off the pangs of aging.  How do we do that without restriction of calories?  What supplement is held in such high regard? Resveratrol, the red wine polyphenol!

Independent of each other, Zoltan Ungvari (2009) and Thimmappa Anekonda (2006) discovered that resveratrol may have therapeutic value in the treatment of metabolic and neuronal diseases, based at least partially on the activity of sirtuin.  What is known about resveratrol’s mechanism of action is that it encourages the sirtuin homologue SIRT1 to ply its trade as a cellular regulator, where it slows down metabolism and any stimulatory reactions to environmental toxins, thus placing an organism into a defensive state so it can survive adverse circumstances.  Tobacco smoke-induced oxidative stress even becomes minimized.

We are individuals with different needs and responses to interventions, whether dietary or medical.  You will differ in your response to calorie restriction from your twin. You will differ in your response to resveratrol, if that is the route you choose.  But it seems more than likely you will experience a strengthened immune system, heightened energy, a healthier reproductive system, increased stamina…and looser trousers.

References

Exp Gerontol. 2007 Aug;42(8):709-12. Epub 2007 Mar 31.
Caloric restriction in humans.
Holloszy JO, Fontana L.

Toxicol Pathol. 2009;37(1):47-51. Epub 2008 Dec 15.
Caloric restriction and aging: studies in mice and monkeys.
Anderson RM, Shanmuganayagam D, Weindruch R.

Aging (Albany NY). 2011 Apr;3(4):374-9.
Long-term calorie restriction, but not endurance exercise, lowers core body temperature in humans.
Soare A, Cangemi R, Omodei D, Holloszy JO, Fontana L.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Apr 22. [Epub ahead of print]
The controversial links among calorie restriction, SIRT1, and resveratrol.
Hu Y, Liu J, Wang J, Liu Q.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 Jun;294(6):H2721-35. Epub 2008 Apr 18.
Vasoprotective effects of resveratrol and SIRT1: attenuation of cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress and proinflammatory phenotypic alterations.
Csiszar A, Labinskyy N, Podlutsky A, Kaminski PM, Wolin MS, Zhang C, Mukhopadhyay P, Pacher P, Hu F, de Cabo R, Ballabh P, Ungvari Z.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009 Nov;297(5):H1876-81. Epub 2009 Sep 11.
Resveratrol attenuates mitochondrial oxidative stress in coronary arterial endothelial cells.
Ungvari Z, Labinskyy N, Mukhopadhyay P, Pinto JT, Bagi Z, Ballabh P, Zhang C, Pacher P, Csiszar A.

Brain Res Rev. 2006 Sep;52(2):316-26.
Resveratrol–a boon for treating Alzheimer’s disease?
Anekonda TS.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Child Athletes Nutrition

children-sportsA child is not a miniature adult. His or her nutrition and hydration needs are not exactly the same, especially in sports participation.  With the growth and availability of sports opportunities, you’d think that related nutrition needs would be a concern. To the contrary, sports nutrition for youngsters receives less attention than it deserves.

“Most children and adolescents who are strongly committed to sports are not concerned about nutrition as it relates to energy balance and obesity,” states a report from a 2004 issue of Nutrition.  The interactions among nutrition, growth, and development deserve attention if a participant expects to achieve optimal performance and to avoid the injuries and problems that stem from nutritional deficiencies.   Daily fluid turnover in adult athletes has received intense study, but that for children and adolescents hasn’t.  That of adults may be two to three liters a day, but in youngsters has only been estimated at half that—and that has been based on sedentary youth.  Although “sweating capacity is typically reported to be lower in children,” there is an increase in sweat rate when adjusted for body surface area.  Besides the energy needed for normal growth and development, children athletes need to accommodate the greater expenditure from physical activity.  That can vary from one sport to another.  (Petrie. 2004).

Besides the fun, kids participate in sports to hone their skills, to experience the excitement of competition, to be part of a team, and to stay in shape, among other reasons.  But they pay little or no attention to fuel and hydration needs.  Parents and coaches, on the other hand, do.  At least they should.  Hectic schedules, availability of foods, limited time and extended days interfere with choices and timing.

Even though the number of kids playing organized sports is on the rise, fitness levels are on the decline, and are much lower than in previous decades.  This partially explains the spate of sports-related injuries.  (Cordelia. 2011).  Targeted intervention strategies include ample hydration and nutrition.  Because of maturation differences, kids need more protein to support growth, more calcium to support bone, and more attention to the prevention of hypohydration.  (Bar-Or. 2001).

Sweat helps to cool the body, and what comes out has to be replaced, otherwise performance suffers and health is at risk.  To prevent the dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and cramps that characterize dehydration, the young athlete should drink one or two cups of water or electrolyte within four hours of an event.  If no urine has been passed, or if urine is bright yellow and minimal, another 1 ½ cups is suggested within two hours of the game.  During the event, try to replace fluids as they are lost to sweat, about a cup every fifteen or twenty minutes if possible.  Plain water will do, but if the event is longer than an hour, use an electrolyte replacement.  Recovery is just as important to a preteen or teen as it is to an adult.  The best way to determine post-exercise hydration needs is to weigh the child to compute weight loss, and to replace fluid at one and a half times the volume lost to sweat.  One ounce of water (sweat) weighs one ounce, so the math is simple.  A kid’s thirst mechanism is not well-developed, so you’ll almost have to force him to drink…but do it.

The nutrients in which young athletes are most deficient include carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin B6, folate and iron, the last being especially important to girls.  Carbohydrate inadequacy leads to shortened glycogen stores and premature fatigue, especially if the game is sixty minutes or longer.  Once glycogen is gone, fat gets mobilized and the child will “bonk.”  The last thing you want is for the young athlete to burn protein for fuel. An active child will need as many as 500 to 1500 more calories a day than his inert peers.

Two to three hours before an event, give your athlete a light, carb-rich meal:  carrot sticks and a piece of cheese; a little pasta; a small sandwich.  Have him exert himself on a slightly empty stomach to avoid cramping, even fatigue.  Chips, cakes or cookies, and candy are out.  The protein your child needs will not build bulk.  That comes with age.  Normal muscle development will require as much as one and a half grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, but need not be much more than fifteen to twenty percent of daily calorie intake.  Reduce that during the off season. Thirty percent fat in the daily intake will help to supply needed calories.  Reduce that off-season, too, lest you greet Tweedledee one morning.

The matter of iron deficiency is a particular concern for girls, especially after the onset of menarche, which can be a couple of years late for an iron-fisted ball player.  Iron-deficiency anemia is a real threat for female athletes.  Besides affecting performance and recovery, low iron stores impair immune function and may initiate other physiological problems.  Supplementation is not intended to replace food as a source of nutrients, but in the case of iron deficit, it may be recommended.  (Beard. 2000).  There’s no need for your daughter to join the 50% of the world population who are deficient in iron.  (Ahmadi. 2010).  Raw meat probably won’t help, but getting 15 mg a day from supervised supplementation will.

Youngsters are often grossly misinformed about what they need and don’t need.  Their peers and the internet are not always reliable sources of information.  Some young athletes need only a minor tweak to their diets; others need a complete overhaul.  If you feel inadequate, don’t be embarrassed.  There are dietitians and sports nutritionists who can help.

References

Petrie HJ, Stover EA, Horswill CA.
Nutritional concerns for the child and adolescent competitor.
Nutrition. 2004 Jul-Aug;20(7-8):620-31.

Cordelia W Carter, Lyle J Micheli
Training the child athlete: physical fitness, health and injury
Br J Sports Med 2011;45:880-885

Bar-Or O.
Nutritional considerations for the child athlete
Can J Appl Physiol. 2001;26 Suppl:S186-91.

Beard J, Tobin B.
Iron status and exercise.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2 Suppl):594S-7S.

Ahmadi A, Enayatizadeh N, Akbarzadeh M, Asadi S, Tabatabaee SH.
Iron status in female athletes participating in team ball-sports.
Pak J Biol Sci. 2010 Jan 15;13(2):93-6.

Koehler K, Braun H, Achtzehn S, Hildebrand U, Predel HG, Mester J, Schänzer W.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 May 19. [Epub ahead of print]
Iron status in elite young athletes: gender-dependent influences of diet and exercise.

Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
Intensive Training and Sports Specialization in Young Athletes
Pediatrics Vol. 106 No. 1 July 1, 2000 : pp. 154 -157

Martinez LR, Haymes EM.
Substrate utilization during treadmill running in prepubertal girls and women.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Sep;24(9):975-83.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Good News About Coffee

cup-of-coffee-on-saucerThe inveterate coffee drinkers among us will appreciate the good news about one of our favorite beverages. After all the flak we took about the vices of coffee, now’s the chance to respond. After water and tea, coffee is the next most popular drink on the planet, having a starring role in the history of several cultures. It came from the Muslim world, travelled to Italy and then to the rest of Europe, finally landing in the New World. At one time, it was limited only to religious observances.

The coffee bean is contained inside a “cherry” that grows on a small evergreen bush.  The Arabica strain is the more highly regarded of the two chief varieties, but the robusta strain is more resistant to the diseases peculiar to this plant, though less flavorful and more bitter. Arabica prefers the coolness of the mountainside; robusta will grow at lower elevations and in warmer climates. Since the best tasting coffee really is mountain grown, the sales talk of a particular brand is true. But Mrs. Olsen never told us that other brands also use mountain grown beans. She merely capitalized on a little-known fact.

One effect of coffee consumption is moderately elevated blood pressure, which is not surprising because caffeine is a stimulant. Italian studies done in the early 1990’s found that 200 milligrams of caffeine, about two cups’ worth, could raise systolic blood pressure by 10% and diastolic by 5% for up to two hours after consumption. The mechanism points to vasoconstriction (which has its own benefits), but researchers found no variation in heart rate or cardiac contractility (Casiglia, 1991), leading to an assumption that this temporary state is not a major concern, especially in light of later studies that reported no association between long-term coffee consumption and increase of cardiovascular complications (Mesas, 2011) or risk of hypertension (Geleijnse, 2008) (Klag, 2002).

Vitamin B6, known as pyridoxine, is a nutrient occasionally used to tame morning sickness in pregnancy and the throes of PMS. It’s also been used to address homocysteine imbalance, carpal tunnel syndrome, immunity deficiencies, and various behavioral/psychiatric issues. However, careless dosing of vitamin B6 can cause medical concerns that outweigh the benefits of producing the monoamine neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. Large doses of B6 over a period of time can cause nerve fiber damage, particularly auditory neuropathy. You’d never think that coffee can prevent and treat this malady, but it does (Hong, 2008). One active coffee component is called trigonelline (Hong, 2009), an alkaloid also found in pumpkin that is able to modulate blood glucose (van Dijk, 2009) (Yoshinari, 2009). Because auditory neuropathy may be attenuated by trigonelline, why can’t the peripheral neuropathy of diabetes or physical trauma likewise be eased? It’s worth a look (Zhou, 2012).

Late-life dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are concerns shared by an aging population across the globe. Finnish studies followed a number of middle-agers for more than twenty years, documenting their coffee (and tea) consumption along the way.  Focusing more on caffeine than on coffee’s lesser-known constituents, researchers found that, over the long haul, those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day at midlife had a lower risk of dementia and AD in old age (Eskelinen, 2009, 2010).  American studies later found that long-term coffee consumption protects against cognitive impairment by reducing the formation of amyloid beta, the protein that forms the plaques associated with AD. Here it was inferred that caffeine is part of a synergy that affords the desired effect, with many coffee constituents not yet identified (Cao, 2011).

Because early research had indicated that coffee may be protective against conditions other than neurological, scientists took the trigonelline link a little further. It’s accepted that people with diabetes are at risk for cognitive dysfunction. Initially, it was proposed that coffee was merely to be explored as a tool in the management of diabetes and related sequelae (Biessels, 2010). It was realized, however, that caffeine can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and consequent cognitive decline (Salazar-Martinez, 2004) (Tuomilehto, 2004).

In general, coffee increases plasma antioxidant capacity, possibly because of the contribution, bioavailability and activity of its particular group of polyphenols, including chlorogenic acid, one component linked to a reduction of type 2 diabetes risk by virtue of delaying intestinal glucose absorption and the inhibition of gluconeogenesis (Ong, 2010) (Tunnicliffe, 2011). Other medical conditions are purported to be influenced by coffee’s mechanisms, including gastrointestinal diseases (Inoue, 1998), gallstones (Leitzmann, 1999), and Parkinson’s disease (Checkoway, 2002) (Blanchette, 2000).

If coffee has a down side, it’s that it can interact with some drugs, most notably quinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin and its kin, which increase caffeine concentrations by inhibiting its clearance (Harder, 1989). Coffee’s popularity cannot be ignored. Just look at all the coffee options that run the gamut from hot to cold, from sweet to sweeter, and from low-cal to mega-cal. Since the 1989 expiration of a global agreement to stabilize supply, availability has fluctuated—and so has the price. You can’t even get the cup for a dime any more.

References

Biessels GJ.
Caffeine, diabetes, cognition, and dementia.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S143-50.

Campdelacreu J.
Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease: environmental risk factors.
[Article in English, Spanish]

Neurologia. 2012 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Cao C, Wang L, Lin X, Mamcarz M, Zhang C, Bai G, Nong J, Sussman S, Arendash G.
Caffeine synergizes with another coffee component to increase plasma GCSF: linkage to cognitive benefits in Alzheimer’s mice.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;25(2):323-35.

Casiglia E, Bongiovì S, Paleari CD, Petucco S, Boni M, Colangeli G, Penzo M, Pessina AC.
Haemodynamic effects of coffee and caffeine in normal volunteers: a placebo-controlled clinical study.
J Intern Med. 1991 Jun;229(6):501-4.

Checkoway H, Powers K, Smith-Weller T, Franklin GM, Longstreth WT Jr, Swanson PD.
Parkinson’s disease risks associated with cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and caffeine intake.
Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Apr 15;155(8):732-8.

Eskelinen MH, Ngandu T, Tuomilehto J, Soininen H, Kivipelto M.
Midlife coffee and tea drinking and the risk of late-life dementia: a population-based CAIDE study.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;16(1):85-91.

Eskelinen MH, Kivipelto M.
Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S167-74.

Floegel A, Pischon T, Bergmann MM, Teucher B, Kaaks R, Boeing H
Coffee consumption and risk of chronic disease in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Germany study.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Apr;95(4):901-8.

Yoichi Fukushima, Takashi Ohie, Yasuhiko Yonekawa, Kohei Yonemoto, Hiroki Aizawa, Yoko Mori, Makoto Watanabe, Masato Takeuchi, Maiko Hasegawa, Chie Taguchi and Kazuo Kondo
Coffee and Green Tea As a Large Source of Antioxidant Polyphenols in the Japanese Population
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2009 57 (4), 1253-1259

Gelber RP, Petrovitch H, Masaki KH, Ross GW, White LR.
Coffee intake in midlife and risk of dementia and its neuropathologic correlates.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;23(4):607-15.

Geleijnse JM.
Habitual coffee consumption and blood pressure: an epidemiological perspective.
Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(5):963-70.

Harder S, Fuhr U, Staib AH, Wolff T.
Ciprofloxacin-caffeine: a drug interaction established using in vivo and in vitro investigations.
Am J Med. 1989 Nov 30;87(5A):89S-91S.

Head KA.
Peripheral neuropathy: pathogenic mechanisms and alternative therapies.
Altern Med Rev. 2006 Dec;11(4):294-329.

Hermansen K, Krogholm KS, Bech BH, Dragsted LO, Hyldstrup L, Jørgensen K, Larsen ML, Tjønneland AM.
Coffee can protect against disease
Ugeskr Laeger. 2012 Sep 24;174(39):2293-2297.

Hong BN, Yi TH, Park R, Kim SY, Kang TH.
Coffee improves auditory neuropathy in diabetic mice.
Neurosci Lett. 2008 Aug 29;441(3):302-6. Epub 2008 Jun 22.

Hong BN, Yi TH, Kim SY, Kang TH.
High-dosage pyridoxine-induced auditory neuropathy and protection with coffee in mice.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2009 Apr;32(4):597-603.

Huxley R, Lee CM, Barzi F, Timmermeister L, Czernichow S, Perkovic V, Grobbee DE, Batty D, Woodward M.
Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption in relation to incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis.
Arch Intern Med. 2009 Dec 14;169(22):2053-63.

Inoue M, Tajima K, Hirose K, Hamajima N, Takezaki T, Kuroishi T, Tominaga S.
Tea and coffee consumption and the risk of digestive tract cancers: data from a comparative case-referent study in Japan.
Cancer Causes Control. 1998 Mar;9(2):209-16.

Kaiser permanante Division of Research
Coffee Drinking and Caffeine Associated with Reduced Risk of Hospitalization for Heart Rhythm Disturbances
3/2/2010

Klag MJ, Wang NY, Meoni LA, Brancati FL, Cooper LA, Liang KY, Young JH, Ford DE.
Coffee intake and risk of hypertension: the Johns Hopkins precursors study.
Arch Intern Med. 2002 Mar 25;162(6):657-62.

Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Spiegelman D, Colditz GA, Giovannucci E.
A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men.
JAMA. 1999 Jun 9;281(22):2106-12.

Mesas AE, Leon-Muñoz LM, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Lopez-Garcia E.
The effect of coffee on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in hypertensive individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Oct;94(4):1113-26. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Oba S, Nagata C, Nakamura K, Fujii K, Kawachi T, Takatsuka N, Shimizu H.
Consumption of coffee, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, chocolate snacks and the caffeine content in relation to risk of diabetes in Japanese men and women.
Br J Nutr. 2010 Feb;103(3):453-9. Epub 2009 Oct 12.

Ong KW, Hsu A, Tan BK.
Chlorogenic acid stimulates glucose transport in skeletal muscle via AMPK activation: a contributor to the beneficial effects of coffee on diabetes.
PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32718. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Richelle M, Tavazzi I, Offord E.
Comparison of the antioxidant activity of commonly consumed polyphenolic beverages (coffee, cocoa, and tea) prepared per cup serving.
J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Jul;49(7):3438-42.

Ross GW, Abbott RD, Petrovitch H, Morens DM, Grandinetti A, Tung KH, Tanner CM, Masaki KH, Blanchette PL, Curb JD, Popper JS, White LR.
Association of coffee and caffeine intake with the risk of Parkinson disease.
JAMA. 2000 May 24-31;283(20):2674-9.

Salazar-Martinez E, Willett WC, Ascherio A, Manson JE, Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB.
Coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Ann Intern Med. 2004 Jan 6;140(1):1-8.

Tunnicliffe JM, Eller LK, Reimer RA, Hittel DS, Shearer J.
Chlorogenic acid differentially affects postprandial glucose and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide response in rats.
Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Oct;36(5):650-9. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

Tuomilehto J, Hu G, Bidel S, Lindström J, Jousilahti P.
Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among middle-aged Finnish men and women.
JAMA. 2004 Mar 10;291(10):1213-9.

van Dijk AE, Olthof MR, Meeuse JC, Seebus E, Heine RJ, van Dam RM.
Acute effects of decaffeinated coffee and the major coffee components chlorogenic acid and trigonelline on glucose tolerance.
Diabetes Care. 2009 Jun;32(6):1023-5. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

Yoshinari O, Sato H, Igarashi K.
Anti-diabetic effects of pumpkin and its components, trigonelline and nicotinic acid, on Goto-Kakizaki rats.
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 May;73(5):1033-41. Epub 2009 May 7.

Zhou J, Chan L, Zhou S.
Trigonelline: a plant alkaloid with therapeutic potential for diabetes and central nervous system disease.
Curr Med Chem. 2012 Jul 1;19(21):3523-31.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Tomatoes Lower Stroke Risk

tomatoes-on-the-vineBotanically a fruit and culinarily a vegetable, the tomato belongs to the nightshade family, a group that includes potatoes, eggplants, paprika, chili peppers, tobacco and petunias. These plants are known for possessing a wide range of chemicals called alkaloids, some of which have medicinal or toxic properties. Among the common alkaloids are nicotine, cocaine, morphine and quinine.  It’s the alkaloids in hot peppers that burn. The amount in nightshade foods is vastly different from that in the others of the family. Although it’s good to know that cooking reduces alkaloids by half, the ultra-sensitive among us may still have an uncomfortable reaction. For this reason we avoid the green spots and the eyes of a potato, where the heaviest concentrations are. It is believed, but not definitive, that food plant alkaloids may contribute to joint damage caused by inflammation and altered mineral status. Speculation suggests that nightshade alkaloids move calcium from bone and deposit it in soft tissue, thus adding to the discomfort of arthritis and other joint problems, like gout (Childers, 1993) (Slanina, 1990). From a gustatory perspective, we are elated to announce that tomato, eggplant and pepper alkaloid content is extremely low, in contrast to that of green potatoes and plant parts other than the tuber, the poisoning from which is rare (Friedman, 1997) (Davis, 2006).

Most of us can enjoy a daily dose of tomatoes, either in pasta sauces and juices, on sandwiches and salads, as soup or as dried… or even as ketchup. Tomatoes are not only low-cal and low-fat, but also high in anti-oxidants, especially lycopene, a carotenoid that protects the cardiovascular system from damaging free radicals. Although lycopene is chemically a carotene, it has no vitamin A activity because it cannot be converted to that vitamin. But that’s all right because its other virtues are to be heralded. Lycopene gives the tomato—and watermelon—its red color. As an intermediate working inside the plant, it helps in the manufacture of other carotenoids, including beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor. Lycopene isn’t an essential nutrient, but it sure is nice to have it in the diet, where it accumulates in the liver, adrenals and testes, and is found to help reduce (prostate) cancer risk (Giovannucci, 1995, 2002), to ameliorate the ravages of cardiovascular diseases by capturing free radicals (DiMascio, 1989), to mitigate osteoporosis and, now, to prevent stroke (Karppi, 2012).

Karppi and colleagues found that those with the highest values of lycopene in their blood were fifty-five percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest. More than one thousand men between ages 46 and 65 participated in the study for an average of twelve years. From that group, 25 out of 258 men with the least lycopene had a stroke, while 11 of 259 with the highest levels suffered. After looking at stroke caused by a blood clot, the results were stronger. Those whose lycopene values were the greatest were fifty-nine percent less likely to have a stroke.

Blood vessels are part of the cardiovascular system. Any substance that can inhibit clogging the roadways is worth investigating. Medical literature shows that oxidized low-density lipoprotein is the most important first step of atherosclerotic disease and, therefore, the first step of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular events that include myocardial infarction and stroke. Scavenging singlet oxygen, which is the main player of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that oxidize LDL, is a primary function of carotenoid anti-oxidants. Including these protective molecules in one’s diet to decrease LDL oxidation and adverse consequences is a prudent measure (Giordano, 2012). The carotid arteries of the neck carry blood to the head. Their thickness can be measured by an external ultrasound. By tracking thickness changes, doctors can determine the presence of, and evaluate the progression of, the atherosclerotic process. It is worth noting, though, that not all thickening is due to atherosclerosis. Finnish scientists discovered that men with the least carotid artery wall thickening also had the highest concentrations of carotenoids, including lycopene and cryptoxanthin (a relative of beta-carotene), leading to the conclusion that carotenoids such as lycopene are associated with decreased risk of carotid atherosclerosis (Karppi, 2011). Even earlier study found that low levels of lycopene are associated with higher danger of atherosclerotic vascular episodes (Rissanen, 2001).

Generally, a diet high in fruits and vegetables affords resolution to more physical problems than we pay attention to. Nutrition plays a significant role in the prevention of many chronic diseases. Plants contain substances that we have yet to discover. As for those substances about which we know a little, we know only a little and cannot ascertain the value of a single molecule without considering those molecules that may act synergistically. It has been established that patients who have suffered an ischemic stroke display markers associated with serious inflammation (Chang, 2005), and that attenuation of such may be realized in the presence of carotenoids, lycopene included.  Some studies link oil-based tomato products, as seen in pizza and pasta sauces, with cardiovascular benefits (Sesso, 2003), while others see any tomato-rich foods as preventive (Rissanen, 2002).

Knowing that tomatoes can help to prevent serious disease is not a license to pile your rye bread high with processed cold cuts, such as re-amalgamated ham and ersatz cheese, slathered with hydrogenated mayonnaise, joined by super-saline pickles, chips and salads on the side. Now that you have some direction, see where it goes.

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