Friday, October 29, 2010

Bad To The Bones

By the age of 40, the body starts to lose bone mass. By losing just 10% of your bone mass, your odds of a hip or spine fracture doubles. And it's not just weak bones, but weak muscles, that lead to debilitation fractures. As balance decreases, our risk of falls increases, creating more opportunity for fractures.
The acid-base balance of the diet has the greatest impact on bone and muscle tissue. The acid-load of many diets is not handled well by older adults due to declining kidney function. As we become gradually, mildly, but progressively acidotic, muscle and bone wasting progresses as well. Foods producing the high acid load are proteins and grains; not the acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruits. When grains and proteins are metabolized, they release sulfuric and other acids into the bloodstream. In contrast, fruits and vegetables get broken down into bicarbonate when metabolized, so they add alkali to the system. And that's what helps neutralize acid. When the diet is poor in fruits and veggies relative to grains and proteins, that's a "net acid-producing" diet.
To complicate things further, not all proteins are alike. The acid producing quality depends on the amount of sulfur-containing amino acids within the protein. Plant protein generally comes in foods like beans, which have an accompanying alkaline source which is less acid-producing than the same amount of beef protein.
How to Drop Acid
Cutting protein to lower acid-load would be counter productive. Instead, it is recommended to cut back on the grain foods, which in many cases are calorie laden besides acid producing. This includes donuts, cookies, crackers, pasta, etc. Be more selective - make the grains count by choosing nutrient dense items. Include 9 to 11 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to the diet. Also, make sure to get enough vitamin D, as there are vit. D receptors in muscle tissue as well.
The low acid diet is extremely beneficial for people prone to gout and osteo arthritis.
Here is a sample of foods with high negative PRALs (potential renal acid load). The high-negative PRALs neutralize the high-positive PRALs.
  • Raisins (1/4 cup) -8.4
  • Apricots (4) -6.7
  • Kiwi (2) -6.1
  • Watermelon (2 C) -5.3
  • Orange (1) -4.2
  • Pineapple & Strawberries -3.1
  • Spinach (1/2 C uncooked) -12.6
  • Zucchini " -4.1
  • Carrot " -3.8
  • Tomato (1) -2.6
  • Lettuce (3 C) -2.1
  • Milk chocolate (1.5 oz) 1.0
  • Oatmeal (1 C cooked) 8.7
  • White bread (1 slice) 1.6
  • Whole wheat " 0.8
  • Whole milk (8 oz) 1.7
  • Fruit yogurt 2.0
  • Cottage cheese (1/2 C) 9.6
  • Haddock (5 oz raw) 9.7
  • Beef & Pork " 11.2
  • Turkey 14.1
  • Red wine (5 oz) -3.5
  • Draft beer (16 oz) -1.0
  • Coca-Cola (12 oz) 1.5
~ List provided by the Journal of the American Dietetic Assoc., 1995
~ Tufts University, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nutrition During Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Cancer has become a familiar diagnosis for women in America. It' s likely you know someone who has been diagnosed or you have received a diagnosis yourself. Thanks to early detection and improved treatment options, it is also a very survivable disease. Dietitians play an important role in a comprehensive survival plan, and nutrition should be a vital component of cancer treatment. It is critical that a nutritional program for breast cancer should focus on maintaining a healthy weight during cancer treatments. Many patients find themselves gaining weight during treatment, even though the opposite occurs with other types of cancer. Research indicates that weight gain during breast cancer treatment is associated with increased risk of recurrence and death.
Physical activity is a must, regardless of difficulty and lack of energy. Exercise helps maintain muscle mass which provides energy and reduces fatigue.
The diet should include 4 to 5 cups of colorful fruits and vegetables daily, plenty of fiber, fluids, and healthy fats such as cold water fish and walnuts. For post-operative healing, high quality protein such as eggs, fat free and low fat dairy, and lean meats are recommended. Preoperative patients should refrain from taking supplements that could alter clotting in relation to post-operative bleeding.
The right nutrition program is not only helpful and healing to the body, but also the mind. It is one of the few things we can have some control over during chemo and radiation treatments.
Ask your health care provider for a referral for an oncology RD. They have the knowledge base to sort through the questions and bring relevant research to the discussion regarding how various foods, diets, and herbal and vitamin supplements can impact the cancer process.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ladies, Know the Facts About Alcohol!

Who doesn't love a great glass of wine on occasion? And red wine provides healthy antioxidants, right? Don't kid yourselves. Yes, there are antioxidant properties in red wine, the same ones found in grapes. So eat the grapes instead! Alcohol still raises the risk of some breast cancers. A new study looked at 3000 women who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during a five year study. Those who consumed 1 to 7 alcoholic drinks per week were 50% more likely to develop the disease. It was also found that drinkers are more likely to have breast tumors sensitive to estrogen than tumors that are not.
An ounce of prevention still goes a long way....Consider limiting your alcohol consumption to curb your risk of breast cancer.

~ Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vitamin C Misconceptions

The cold and flu season is here again, along with the newest marketing tools promoting the latest potions and remedies. Most of which are the same old stuff with new packages. Everything from sodas to candy have been fortified with vitamin C, so it would be rare to find a deficiency in the U.S. Vitamin C has been in the headlines for years, though research has yet to find any significant evidence linking it to the prevention or duration of a cold. Vitamin C does however, come to the rescue to deactivate histamine, which is the immune response that causes nasal congestion. Therefore, vitamin C can be considered an anti-histamine, creating the illusion of a cure. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant only in combination with other vitamins; it "recharges" vitamin E and other true antioxidants, and acts as a co-factor with certain B-vitamins to boost the immune system. By itself, it has no antioxidant properties.
The history of vitamin C: 250 years ago, the crew of any sea-going ship had only a 50% chance of returning alive; not because of storms or pirates at sea, but because of the dreaded disease scurvy. No one knew the reason, until James Lind, a British physician discovered the link between the ships food supply and the disease. In long journeys, the fresh produce was used up quickly, and the men were forced to live on meat and cereal until returning to port. Those afflicted sailors receiving citrus fruits recovered completely. The unfortunate souls who did not eat the fruits did not survive. As a result, the British Navy later required all vessels to provide every sailor with lime juice daily, which lead to the nickname "limeys."
Vitamin C helps to form collagen, a fibrous structural protein of connective tissues, artery walls, and the matrix on which bones and teeth are formed. This process is also used in healing wounds and broken bones.
Vitamin C also acts as a "carrier" for transporting iron and calcium from the gut to the blood.
Vitamin C participates in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin and norepinephrine. It also assists in the making of hormones that regulate the metabolism.
How much does one really need? Few instances warrant consuming more than 200mg. per day. Vitamin C can act as an "oxidant" when doses exceed actual need. Large doses can show "false positive" or "false negative" results in various urine tests to detect diseases such as diabetes. Those with kidney disorders and gout run the risk of kidney stones from excessive doses of vitamin C. Supplementation is usually prescribed to treat illnesses resulting from deficiencies or serious injuries and stress such as severe burns and infections, radiation therapy, multiple injuries, and skin breakdown.
Fruits and vegetables provide an abundance of vitamin C. A single serving of broccoli, bell pepper, or strawberries provides more than 50 mg. Vitamin C is not limited to citrus fruits; Kiwi and spinach also provide an abundance of vitamin C, as well as many other foods. And food sources are the best way to obtain vitamin C, since they contain the complimentary nutrients and enzymes needed to metabolize vitamins.