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KETOGENIC DIET: AN ASTONISHING WAY TO LOOSE WEIGHT

A client of mine asked for details of a ketogenic diet. Personally I don’t subscribe to the idea of taking lots of fat while trying to lose fat supposedly. I figured it portends more harm than good for the patient; especially in Nigeria where unsaturated fats sources (which are most ideal for a ketogenic diet) are not really available and expensive when found. So I decided to get comprehensive components, advantages and disadvantages of the diet, so let us talk about it shall we? This is quite comprehensive so kindly forgive it’s lengthy nature.

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STRESS AND NUTRITION: THE CONNECTION

A colleague of mine requested for this article and I thought we could all learn from it. It contains virtually a little of everything you would need to know on the connection between stress and nutrition. I guarantee you would have lots of fun. Let’s go!

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Being aware of how your body works and deals with stress can help you to manage stress and stressful situations. After a stressful period the human body can go into a ‘recovery mode’ where increased appetite and food cravings become more prevalent. At the same time metabolic rates drop to conserve energy. Being aware of these patterns can help you manage your stress levels and through nutrition and diet you can help your body recover from stressful periods more rapidly and minimise negative effects like weight gain.
Of course we know that stress can affect your body in many ways and that your waistline is a particularly notable victim of stress. Sadly, this is true. There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. One has to do with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. When we’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies, leading to the release of various hormones, including cortisol.
When there is more cortisol in our system, we may crave less healthy food options such as snacks containing high sugar and fat content, and this can adversely affect our nutrition and health.
Whether we’re stressed because of constant, crazy demands at work or we’re really in danger, our bodies respond like we’re about to be harmed and need to fight for our lives. To answer this need, that body experiences a burst of energy, shifts in metabolism and blood flow, and other changes.These changes can affect digestion, appetite, and nutrition in many ways.
What happens during stress?
When we go through stress, our nervous system and adrenal glands send signals to the rest of the body to help us think more clearly and be ready for a physical response if required. In effect, cortisol and adrenaline are secreted. Cortisol is chiefly known as the body’s stress hormone. Let’s take an indept look at cortisol and how it functions in relation with our diet.

What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a glucocorticoid (steroid hormone) produced from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands located on top of each kidney. It is normally released in response to events and circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and acute stress. Cortisol’s far-reaching, systemic effects play many roles in the body’s effort to carry out its processes and maintain balance (homeostasis) .Cortisol curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation as detected by adrenaline. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

However in modern life we can become stressed for many reasons other than impending danger and yet our bodily reactions are the same. With their pre-determined instincts, our bodies’ still prepare our minds in this instinctive way and give less priority to other, less urgent, functions. Digestion is one such function that is given a lower priority during stressful situations, this is not good as poor digestion can make us feel unwell and this in turn can be a source of stress.
Why is cortisol so important?

Cortisol accelerates the breakdown of proteins into amino acids (except in liver cells). These amino acids move out of the tissues into the blood and to liver cells, where they are changed to glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. A prolonged high blood concentration of cortisol in the blood results in a net loss of tissue proteins and higher levels of blood glucose.
Isn’t this bad?

Not exactly. By raising plasma glucose levels, cortisol provides the body with the energy it requires to combat stress from trauma, illness, fright, infection, bleeding, etc.
Obviously, this is bad from a muscle breakdown perspective; however, the body is simply trying to preserve carbohydrate stores and deliver energy when it needs it most. Acutely, cortisol also mobilizes fatty acids from fat cells and even helps to maintain blood pressure.
As it’s part of inflammatory response, cortisol is necessary for recovery from injury and healing. However, chronically high levels of cortisol in the blood can decrease white blood cells and antibody formation, which can lower immunity. This is the most important therapeutic property of glucocorticoids, since they can reduce the inflammatory response and this, in itself, suppresses immunity.
Thus, cortisol is:
*Protein-mobilizing
*Gluconeogenic
*Hyperglycemic
Whether these effects are “good” or “bad” depends on whether cortisol’s release is acute (ie brief and infrequent) or chronic (i.e continuous).

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Understanding the Natural Stress Response
When a threat is perceived the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of the brain, sets off an alarm system in the body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts the adrenal glands, located atop the kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Of interest to the dietetics community, cortisol also plays an important role in human nutrition. It regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of substrate (carbohydrate, fat, or protein) the body needs to meet the physiological demands placed on it. When chronically elevated, cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk.
Stress and Nutrition: The Connection

Blood Sugar:

Prolonged stress can alter blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia. Too much stress has even been linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health concerns that can lead to greater health problems, like heart attacks and diabetes.

Fat Storage:

Excessive stress affects fat storage. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is not only aesthetically undesirable, it’s linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body and high risk of cardiovascular diseases.

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Emotional Eating:

Increased levels of cortisol can not only make you crave unhealthy food, but excess nervous energy can often cause you to eat more than you normally would. How many times have you found yourself scouring the kitchen for a snack, or absently munching on junk food when you’re stressed, but not really hungry?
Fast Food:

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Experts believe that one of the big reasons obesity is on the rise in our society these days is that people are too stressed and busy to make healthy dinners at home, often opting to get fast foods instead. Fast food and even healthier restaurant choices can both be higher in sugar and fat. Even in the healthiest circumstances, you don’t know what you’re eating when you’re not eating at home, and can’t control what goes into your food. Because of this and because restaurants often add less healthy ingredients like butter to enhance taste, it’s safer to eat at home.

Too Busy to Exercise


With all the demands of our schedules, exercise may be one of the last things on your to-do list. If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, from sitting in traffic, clocking hours at our desks, and plopping in front of the TV in exhaustion at the end of the day, exercise often goes by the wayside.
Caffeine and Stress

Caffeine is found mostly in coffee, tea, some soft drinks and chocolate. It can have negative effects on the body if taken in high quantities and habitually. Caffeine is a neurostimullator which increases heartbeat and keeps the mind alert. This makes it difficult for people taking coffee to sleep properly or even relax. Soon enough the body gets tired but still can’t go to sleep. Getting adequate sleep is an important factor in reducing stress levels. Caffeine and stress can both elevate cortisol levels, high amounts of caffeine ( which on its own can cause stress) can lead to the negative health effects associated with prolonged elevated levels of cortisol. When one ingests high levels of caffeine, you feel a mood surge and plummet, leaving a craving for more caffeine to make it soar again. This leads to insomnia, some other health consequences (such as arrhythmia) and, of course, stress. However, small to moderate amounts of caffeine can lift your mood and give you a boost.
Effects on the Body:


Hormones- You can feel the effects of caffeine in your system within a few minutes of ingesting it, and it stays on your system for many hours—it has a half-life of four to six hours in your body. While in the body, caffeine affects the following hormones thereby causing stress:
Adenosine: Caffeine can inhibit absorption of adenosine, which calms the body. This makes you feel alert in the short run, but can cause sleep problems later.
Adrenaline:Caffeine releases adrenaline into the system, giving a temporary boost, but possibly causing fatigue and depression later. If you take more caffeine to counteract these effects, you end up spending the day in an agitated state, and might find yourself jumpy and edgy by night.

Cortisol: Caffeine can increase the body’s levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which can lead to other health consequences ranging from weight gain and moodiness to heart disease and diabetes.
Dopamine– Caffeine increases dopamine levels in the system, acting in a way similar to amphetamines, which can make you feel good after taking it, but after it wears off you can feel ‘low’. This effect can also lead to a physical dependence because of dopamine manipulation.
Alcohol, Sugar, Salt and Nicotine:

You should aim to reduce your intake of alcohol, sugar and salt. Too much of these are never good. Consumption of these items are all known to strip the body of essential nutrients and undo the work of a healthier diet. Stop smoking! Although reaching for a cigarette may feel like instant stress relief it actually causes greater stress over time.
How to Lower Cortisol Levels With Diet (isn’t this wonderful?!?)

Stress and diet:

Stress and diet have always been linked. It is possible that someone eating a healthy, balanced diet is going to be far less stressed than someone eating a poor diet. If one is feeling overly stressed, the digestive system is probably under a great deal of strain, therefore making changes to your diet key to feeling better physically and emotionally. You can greatly help manage cortisones levels and regain your health by maintaining a suitable diet, exercise routine, sleep and stress levels. In absence of Cushing’s Disease, here are steps that help lower high cortisol levels naturally:
1. Switch to a Whole Foods, Anti-inflammatory Diet
Poorly managed blood sugar levels (especially hypoglycemia, having low blood sugar) and high levels of inflammation can contribute to high cortisol levels and other hormonal imbalances. Following an anti-inflammatory diet low in processed foods and high in antioxidants, fiber and essential nutrients is key to balancing hormones, controlling cravings and tackling stress. These same strategies can also help with adrenal support, allowing you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, boosting energy during the day and helping aid sleep.
Some of the most significant dietary contributors to inflammation and high cortisol levels include:
*High-sugar, high-glycemic diet (with many packaged foods, refined grain products, sugary drinks and snacks).
*Consuming high amounts of refined and trans fats
drinking too much caffeine and alcohol.
*Insufficient intake of micronutrients and antioxidants.
*Low fiber content of food (which makes it hard to balance blood sugar)
*Low consumption of unsaturated fats or unhealthy protein (which can lead to hunger, weight gain and high blood sugar).
Instead, switching to a low-glycemic diet, include healthy fats and proteins with every meal, and make sure to get enough fiber and phytonutrients by eating plenty fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the most useful foods for lowering cortisol and stabilizing blood sugar include vegetables; fruits; coconut or olive oil; nuts; seeds; lean proteins like eggs, fish and grass-fed beef; and probiotic foods (like yogurt, kefir or cultured vegetables).

2. Use Adaptogen Herbs and Superfoods:
Adaptogen herbs help naturally lower high cortisol levels in several key ways. They help balance hormones; reduce inflammation due to their strong antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial effects; they possess natural antidepressant effects; lower fatigue; and help balance blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Many adaptogens, such as mushrooms and cocoa, have been safely used for thousands of years to promote better overall health with little to no side effects.
There are at least various proven adaptogenic herbs that can help lower cortisol, including ginseng, garlic, basil and medicinal mushrooms among others.
3. On Stressful Days, Eat Little and Often (small frequent meals):

This will keep the metabolism ticking all day and minimise peaks and troughs in energy levels. Eat breakfast, though you may not feel hungry or believe you do not have enough time. Eating breakfast helps to kick start metabolism for the day and also helps to stabilise your blood sugar level which will in turn reduce stress. Choose fruit or fruit juice and a whole-grain cereal for maximum benefits.

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4. Eat Well Throughout the Day

Be sure to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day and focus on foods containing Vitamins B and C, and Magnesium. B Vitamins can help you feel more energetic after a stressful episode. Bananas, leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds and also meat, fish and dairy products all contain essential B vitamins.
Vitamin C: The adrenal glands contain the largest store of vitamin C in the body and are important in the production of stress hormones. Eat citrus fruit such as oranges, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi fruit, leafy green vegetables, broccoli and other foods rich in Vitamin C.
Magnesium: Magnesiumhelps to relax muscles and reduce anxiety. Increase your magnesium intake by eating nuts, especially Brazil nuts, but also hazelnuts and peanuts. Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, especially oats, brown rice and beans are also good sources of magnesium. Take a relaxing bath with a good handful of Epsom salts (available at pharmacists) as these contain magnesium that can be absorbed through your skin.
As well as trying to maximise your intake of certain foodstuffs, you should also be aware of the negative effects of others and therefore try to minimise them.




5. Opt For Green Tea:

If you take a lot of coffee you may not realize the effects caffeine has on your system. However, you can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental performance throughout the day if you gradually wean yourself of large amounts of caffeine. A relatively easy and healthy way to do that is to replace coffee with decafinated green tea, which has a soothing taste and the added benefit of plenty antioxidants!

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6. Try Sparkling Juice:
If you’re a cola drinker, you are probably experiencing the same health consequences from caffeine that coffee drinkers experience. A more healthful alternative is sparkling fruit juice, or sparkling water. You won’t only be getting a refreshing treat, but you’ll be adding water to your system, rather than detracting it (caffeine dehydrates, so drinking it is akin to un-drinking water!), and you’ll be avoiding other caffeine-related side effects.
How can a Dietitian help with stress and diet?


Seeing a registered health professional such as a nutritionist is essential if you want to make long-term positive changes to your diet in order to effectively manage stress. A nutritionist can provide tailored nutritional advice and support to ensure all your needs are catered for and specific goals are met. This will involve an assessment to pinpoint nutritional needs and what stress relieving foods will be the most suitable for you. As part of your assessment, your dietitian will look at triggers and contributing factors, as well as any underlying imbalances such as adrenal hormones and thyroid problems. Following this, you will be given a specific diet plan to follow, which will also outline lifestyle changes such as physical activity, which will play an important role in stress management for the long-term.
Dietetics is a subjective science and not a one size fits all so it is important to consult a professional who would treat you as “a person” as conditions applicable to others may not be applicable to your peculiar situation. Good luck.
Sources:
http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/stress-nutrition-diet.html#ixzz4WPpFBXh1
Stress System Malfunction Could Lead To Serious, Life-Threatening Disease. NIH Backgrounder September 9, 2002.
Teitelbaum, Jacob, M.D. How Stress Can Make You Gain Weight. Total Health Vol 25. no. 5. Oct/Nov 2003.
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NUTRIGENOMICS: THE UNDERDOG OF NUTRITION

Nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics, as the name suggests simply implies how foods affect our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients (and other naturally occurring compounds like phytonutrients) in our food. Nutrigenomics has received much attention recently because of its potential for preventing, mitigating, or treating chronic disease, and some cancers, through small but highly informative dietary changes. The conceptual basis for this new branch of genomic research can best be summarized by the following five strongholds of nutrigenomics:
*Under certain circumstances and in some individuals, diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases.
*Common nutrients can act on the human genome, either directly or indirectly, to alter gene expression or structure.
*The degree to which diet influences the balance between healthy and disease states may depend on an individual’s genetic makeup.
*Some diet-regulated genes (and their normal, common variants) are likely to play a role in the onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity of chronic diseases.
*Dietary intervention based on knowledge of nutritional requirement, nutritional status, and genotype (i.e personalized nutrition) can be used to prevent, ameliorate or cure chronic disease.

Nutrigenomics as a branch of Nutrition:
The promise of nutritional genomics is personalized medicine and health based upon an understanding of our nutritional needs, nutritional and health status, and our genotype. Nutrigenomics will also have impacts on society from medicine to agricultural and dietary practices to social and public policies and its applications are likely to exceed that of even the human genome project. Chronic diseases (and some types of cancer) may be preventable, or at least delayed, by balanced, sensible diets. Knowledge gained from comparing diet/gene interactions in different populations may provide information needed to address the larger problem of epidemics and malnutrition.
Nutrition and Genes:

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Personalised nutrition hinges on a two-way relationship between nutrients and genes. On the one hand, the nutrients we consume can affect the way our genes are expressed; on the other, our genes are able to influence how our bodies respond and utilize to nutrients.
The goal for nutrigenomic scientists is to unravel this complex interaction so that tailored diets can be developed which complement a person’s unique genetic profile. Not only will this optimise the health of the individual, but it may also work on a larger scale to help prevent society-wide diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and malnutrition.
A perfect example of genetically predisposed disease is inflammatory bowel disease (or IBM). Inflammatory bowel disease refers to both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, two inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammatory bowel disease has a complex aetiology; a genetically determined susceptibility interacting with environmental factors, including nutrients and gut microbiota.

Diet and Exercise:
Exercise modulates genes involved in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation. Dietary nutrients modulate the same genes. Both can stimulate BDNF (Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor). Together, they bring energy provision to the brain, improving neuronal function and brain plasticity. It’s a synergistic relationship — they work in tandem, not alone. For instance, combining exercise with a DHA-enriched diet enhances cognitive function; coupled with a flavonoid-rich diet, it protects the brain from inflammation and cell death. Even with a diet rich in saturated fats, exercise can reduce the decline in brain plasticity induced by a poor diet.
While there’s on-going research on food, cooking and diets, our bodies remain hard-wired to environmental changes that once predicted our survival or extinction. Poor dietary and exercise lifestyle affects us deeply. And this “gene” gets passed down from generation to generation. So that old saying “you are what you eat” may need rephrasing. Perhaps, “You are what your father’s ate” is more fitting. The better informed we are about our food choices, the better we can preserve not only our own health, but that of future generations.
A large number of different dietary approaches have been studied in an attempt to achieve healthy, sustainable weight loss among individuals with overweight and obesity. Restriction of energy intake is the primary method of producing a negative energy balance leading to weight loss. However, owing to the different metabolic roles of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids in energy homeostasis, diets of similar overall energy content but with different macronutrient distribution can differentially affect metabolism, appetite and thermogenesis. Evidence increasingly suggests that the fuel values of calories provided by distinct macronutrients should be considered separately, as metabolism of specific molecular components generates differences in energy yield. The causes of variation in individual responses to various diets are currently under debate, and some evidence suggests that differences are associated with specific genotypes. Recent research suggests there are roles played by the macronutrient composition of food on weight management. There are indications that personalized nutrition is a wholesome package consisting of interactions of macronutrient intake and genetic background and its potential influence on dietary intervention strategies.
Sources:
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7129758
Martinez, J. A. Body-weight regulation: causes of obesity. Proc. Nutr. Soc. 59, 337–345 (2000).
CASISIPubMedArticle
Galgani, J. & Ravussin, E. Energy metabolism, fuel selection and body weight regulation. Int. J. Obes. (Lond.) 32, S109–S119 (2008).
http://www.nature.com/nrendo/journal/v10/n12/full/nrendo.2014.175.html
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BROCOLLI AND ALL THE FUSS

I had cause to encounter this spongy vegetable recently. Well, I had seen it a lot in the movies and it didn’t leave a good impression. Managed to see it in a vegetable market in Jos and bought it. Funny enough it tasted quite pleasant and rich!.. I went ahead to find out its health benefits and here’s what I found.. Enjoy!

Improving bone health:

Poor vitamin K intake is linked with a high risk of bone fracture. Just one cup of chopped broccoli provides 92 micrograms of vitamin K, well over 100% of your daily need. Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin K daily, improves bone health by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium. Broccoli also contributes to your daily need for calcium, providing 43 milligrams in one cup. Antioxidant vitamin C, when eaten in its natural form (in fresh produce as opposed to supplement form) can help to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution, reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.

Protection from chronic disease:

According to theDepartment of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developingcoronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.
Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve. insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

Fighting cancer:

Eating a high amount of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of cancer; namely lung andcolon cancer. Studies have suggested that sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite, is also what gives them their cancer-fighting power. Researchers have found that sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. The ability to stop HDAC enzymes could make sulforaphane-containing foods a potentially powerful part of cancer treatment in the future. Sulforaphane is now being studied for its ability to delay or impede cancer with promising results shown inmelanoma, esophageal, prostate andpancreatic cancers.Another important vitamin that broccoli contains,folate, has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer in women. Adequate intake of dietary folate (in food) has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic and cervical cancers. Although the mechanism of protection is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate’s protective effects have something to do with its role in DNA and RNA production and the prevention of unwanted mutations. There is no evidence that folate in supplement form provides the same anti-cancer benefits.

Broccoli’s Anti-Inflammatory Benefits:

When threatened with dangerous levels of potential toxins, or dangerous numbers of overly-reactive, oxygen-containing molecules, signals are sent within our body to our inflammatory system, directing it to “kick in” and help protect our body from potential damage. One key signaling device is a molecule called Nf-kappaB. When faced with the type of dangers described above, the NF-kappaB signaling system is used to “rev up” our inflammatory response and increase production of inflammatory components (for example, IL-6, IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, iNOS and COX-2). This process works beautifully in temporary, short-term circumstances when healing from injury is required. When it continues indefinitely at a constant pace, however, it can put us at risk for serious health problems, including the development of cancer.

Research studies have made it clear that the NF-kappaB signaling system that is used to “rev up” our inflammatory response can be significantly suppressed by isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs—the compounds made from glucosinolates found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables—actually help to shut down the genetic machinery used to produce NF-kappaB and other components of the inflammatory system. These anti-inflammatory benefits of ITCs have been demonstrated in the laboratory, and with consumption of the ITCs themselves. While they have yet to be demonstrated on consumption of broccoli in an everyday diet, we fully expect future research to show anti-inflammatory benefits from the routine consumption of broccoli (and its glucosinolates), not just from consumption of ITCs.
As mentioned earlier in this section, chronic inflammation can sometimes get triggered by overexposure to allergy-related substances. In this context, broccoli has yet another anti-inflammatory trick up its sleeve, because it is a rich source of one particular phytonutrient (a flavonol) called kaempferol. Especially inside of our digestive tract, kaempferol has the ability to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances (by lowering the immune system’s production of IgE-antibodies). By lessening the impact of allergy-related substances, the kaempferol in broccoli can help lower our risk of chronic inflammation.

Broccoli’s Antioxidant Benefits:

Amongst all of the commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of a premiere antioxidant nutrient—vitamin C. This central antioxidant vitamin can provide longer-term support of oxygen metabolism in the body if it is accompanied by flavonoids that allow it to recycle. Broccoli provides many such flavonoids in significant amounts, including the flavonoids kaempferol and quercitin. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. All three of these carotenoids function as key antioxidants. In the case of lutein and beta-carotene, broccoli has been shown not only to provide significant amounts of these antioxidants but to significantly increase their blood levels when consumed in the amount of three cups. Other antioxidants provided by broccoli in beneficial amounts include vitamin E and the minerals manganese and zinc.

Considered as a group, the vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and carotenoids contained in broccoli work to lower risk of oxidative stress in the body. The ability of these nutrients to support oxygen metabolism and avoid excess formation of overly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules makes them equally helpful in lowering risk of chronic inflammation and risk of cancer. If cancer development is compared to a 3-legged stool, the antioxidant benefits of broccoli can be viewed as weakening one leg of the stool, namely the leg called “oxidative stress.” We’ve already seen how the glucosinolates and omega-3 fats in broccoli can be viewed as helping to weaken a second leg of the stool (chronic inflammation).

Enhancing Detoxification:

Most toxins that pose a risk to our cells must be detoxified in our body by a 2-step process. What’s remarkable about broccoli is its ability to alter activity in both of these two detox steps. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from the glucosinolates in broccoli are well-documented modifiers of the first step in detoxification (called Phase I). In fact, some ITCs like sulforaphane can actually help shut down the genetic machinery that produces certain Phase I enzymes. ITCs are equally capable of altering the activity of enzymes involved in the second step of detoxification (called Phase II). From research in the field of genetics, we know that ITCs can help bridge gaps in Phase II activity when it is insufficient. Taken in combination, the impact of ITCs on Phase I and II detox events is unique—and equally unique is the presence of glucosinolate compounds in broccoli that can be used to make ITCs. Glucosinolates like glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are simply not found in other foods in the same combination and concentration that is offered by broccoli. By helping to promote as well as regulate detox activity in our cells, the ITCs made from broccoli can help prevent insufficient detoxification of dangerous substances that threaten our cells.

Broccoli has a strong, positive impact on our body’s detoxification system, and researchers have recently identified one of the key reasons for this detox benefit. Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients found in a special combination in broccoli. This dynamic trio is able to support all steps in body’s detox process, including activation, neutralization, and elimination of unwanted contaminants. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) are the detox-regulating molecules made from broccoli’s glucosinolates, and they help control the detox process at a genetic level.

Broccoli and Digestive Support

The digestive support provided by broccoli falls into two basic categories: fiber support, and ITC (isothiocyanate) support. At approximately 1 gram of dietary fiber for every 10 calories, you don’t have to eat much broccoli to get a large amount of your daily requirement! For 100 calories—only 5% of a 2,000-calorie diet—you get about 10 grams of fiber, or 40% of the Daily Value (DV). And, 250 calories of broccoli (about 12% of a 2,000-calorie diet) will give you the full daily requirement for this important nutrient! Few components of food support our digestive system as well as fiber. The speed that food travels through us, the consistency of food as it moves through our intestine, and bacterial populations in our intestine are all supported as well as regulated by dietary fiber.

Alongside of broccoli’s dietary fibers are its glucosinolates. These phytonutrients are converted by our bodies into isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs—and particularly sulforaphane—help protect the health of our stomach lining by helping prevent bacterial overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori or too much clinging by this bacterium to our stomach wall. Broccoli sprouts appear to have especially strong stomach support properties in this regard.

Broccoli and Cardiovascular Support

Although research in this area is still in the early stages, anti-inflammatory substances found in cruciferous vegetables are becoming the topic of increasing interest with respect to heart disease. One particular focus here involves the anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) derived from the glucoraphanin in broccoli. In some individuals susceptible to high blood sugar, sulforaphane may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be cause by chronic blood sugar problems. Decreased risk of heart attacks and strokes may also eventually be linked in a statistically significant way to intake of broccoli and its glucoraphanin.

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A second area you can count on broccoli for cardiovascular support involves its cholesterol-lowering ability. Our liver uses cholesterol as a basic building block to product bile acids. Bile acids are specialized molecules that aid in the digestion and absorption of fat through a process called emulsification. These molecules are typically stored in fluid form in our gall bladder, and when we eat a fat-containing meal, they get released into the intestine where they help ready the fat for interaction with enzymes and eventual absorption up into the body. When we eat broccoli, fiber-related nutrients in this cruciferous vegetable bind together with some of the bile acids in the intestine in such a way that they simply stay inside the intestine and pass out of our body in a bowel movement, rather than getting absorbed along with the fat they have emulsified. When this happens, our liver needs to replace the lost bile acids by drawing upon our existing supply of cholesterol, and as a result, our cholesterol level drops down. Broccoli provides us with this cholesterol-lowering benefit whether it is raw or cooked. However, a recent study has shown that the cholesterol-lowering ability of raw broccoli improves significantly when it is steamed. In fact, when the cholesterol-lowering ability of steamed broccoli was compared with the cholesterol-lowering ability of the prescription drug cholestyramine (a medication that is taken for the purpose of lowering cholesterol), broccoli bound 33% as many bile acids (based on a standard of comparison involving total dietary fiber).

The B-complex vitamins in broccoli can also make a major contribution to our cardiovascular health. Especially with respect to excessive formation of homocysteine—an event which raises our risk of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack—B-complex vitamin deficiency intake can pose a major risk. Three B vitamins especially important for lowering our risk of hyperhomocysteinemia (excessive formation of homocysteine) are vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate. By making an important contribution to our B6 and folate intake, broccoli can help us lower our risk of excessive homocysteine formation and cardiovascular problems that are related to excess homocysteine.

Other Health Benefits Provided by Broccoli:

Three other areas of health benefits are important to mention when considering broccoli and its unique combination of nutrients. The first area is eye health. Two carotenoids found in significant concentrations in broccoli—lutein and zeaxanthin—play an especially important role in the health of the eye. In fact, no tissue in the body is more concentrated with lutein than the area in the outer portion of the retina (called the peripheral retina). Similarly, in the macula near the central portion of the retina, zeaxanthin is uniquely concentrated. Risk of problems involving the macula of the eye (for example, macular degeneration) and problems involving the lens area of the eye (for example, cataracts) have both been show to lessen with intake of foods (including broccoli) that provide significant amounts of the lutein and zeaxanthin carotenonids.

A second area is skin support, including support of sun-damaged skin. Here it is the glucoraphanin found in broccoli—converted into sulforaphane by the body—that has received the most research attention. Since skin cells can carry out the process of detoxification, it may be detox-related benefits of sulforaphane that are especially important in helping to counteract sun damage.

A third area of increasing research interest involves the metabolism of vitamin D. Broccoli is not a source of this vitamin, but it is an excellent source of vitamin K and also of vitamin A (in one of its precursor forms, beta-carotene). Many individuals have large vitamin D deficiencies that cannot be remedied through diet alone, and these deficiencies require sizable amounts of vitamin D to be provided through dietary supplementation. When large supplemental doses of vitamin D are needed to offset deficiency, ample supplies of vitamin K and vitamin A appear to help keep our vitamin D metabolism in the proper balance. Assuring adequate intake of vitamins K and A alongside of vitamin D supplementation may turn out to be important in achieving optimal vitamin D supplementation results and avoiding potential problems related to supplementation. Broccoli may turn out to play a particularly helpful role in balancing this set of events by providing its unusually strong combination of both vitamin A and vitamin K.

Broccoli as a “Goitrogenic” Food

Broccoli is sometimes referred to as a “goitrogenic” food. Yet, contrary to popular belief, according to the latest studies, foods themselves—broccoli included—are not “goitrogenic” in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called “goitrogenic”—such as the cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, kale, and cauliflower) and soyfoods—do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Nor is it scientifically correct to say that foods “contain goitrogens,” at least not if you are thinking about goitrogens as a category of substances like proteins, carbohydrates, or vitamins. With respect to the health of our thyroid gland, all that can be contained in a food are nutrients that provide us with a variety of health benefits but which, under certain circumstances, can also interfere with thyroid function. The term “goitrogenic food” makes it sound as if something is wrong with the food, but that is simply not the case. What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances.

Possible health risks of consuming broccoli
If you are taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or less foods containing vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Some Sources:

Ambrosone CB, Tang L. Cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer prevention: role of nutrigenetics. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr;2(4):298-300. 2009.

Angeloni C, Leoncini E, Malaguti M, et al. Modulation of phase II enzymes by sulforaphane: implications for its cardioprotective potential. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jun 24;57(12):5615-22. 2009.

Banerjee S, Wang Z, Kong D, et al. 3,3′-Diindolylmethane enhances chemosensitivity of multiple chemotherapeutic agents in pancreatic cancer. 3,3′-Diindolylmethane enhances chemosensitivity of multiple chemotherapeutic agents in pancreatic cancer. 2009.

Bhattacharya A, Tang L, Li Y, et al. Inhibition of bladder cancer development by allyl isothiocyanate. Carcinogenesis. 2010 Feb;31(2):281-6. 2010.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/09/broccoli-benefits.aspx

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FEED YOUR NERVES



Rationale for this article:

As any other organ, the brain is elaborated from substances present in the diet (sometimes exclusively, for vitamins, minerals, essential amino-acids and essential fatty acids, including omega- 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids). However, for long it was not fully accepted that food can have an influence on brain structure, and thus on its function, including cognitive and intellectuals. In fact, most micronutrients (vitamins and trace-elements) have been directly evaluated in the setting of cerebral functioning. For instance,
*To produce energy, the use of glucose by nervous tissue implies the presence of vitamin B1; this vitamin modulates cognitive performance, especially in the elderly.
*Vitamin B9 preserves brain during its development and memory during ageing.
*Vitamin B6 is likely to benefit in treating premenstrual depression. Vitamins B6 and B12, among others, are directly involved in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters. Vitamin B12 delays the onset of signs of dementia (and blood abnormalities), provided it is administered in a precise clinical timing window, before the onset of the first symptoms. Supplementation with cobalamin improves cerebral and cognitive functions in the elderly; it frequently improves the functioning of factors related to the frontal lobe, as well as the language function of those with cognitive disorders. Adolescents who have a borderline level of vitamin B12 develop signs of cognitive changes.

* In the brain, the nerve endings contain the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the human body (after the suprarenal glands). Vitamin D (or certain of its analogues) could be of interest in the prevention of various aspects of neurodegenerative or neuroimmune diseases.
*Among the various vitamin E components (tocopherols and tocotrienols), only alpha-tocopherol is actively uptaken by the brain and is directly involved in nervous membranes protection.
*Even vitamin K has been involved in nervous tissue biochemistry. Iron is necessary to ensure oxygenation and to produce energy in the cerebral parenchyma (via cytochrome oxidase), and for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and myelin; iron deficiency is found in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Iron concentrations in the umbilical artery are critical during the development of the foetus, and in relation with the IQ in the child; infantile anaemia with its associated iron deficiency is linked to perturbation of the development of cognitive functions.
Irondeficiency anaemia is common, particularly in women, and is associated, for instance, with apathy, depression and rapid fatigue when exercising.
Lithium importance, at least in psychiatry, is known for a long time.
*Magnesium plays important roles in all the major metabolisms: in oxidation-reduction and in ionic regulation, among others.
*Zinc participates among others in the perception of taste.
*An unbalanced copper metabolism homeostasis (due to dietary deficiency) could be linked to Alzheimer disease. The iodine provided by the thyroid hormone ensures the energy metabolism of the cerebral cells; the dietary reduction of iodine during pregnancy induces severe cerebral dysfunction, actually leading to cretinism. Among many mechanisms, manganese, copper, and zinc participate in enzymatic mechanisms that protect against free radicals, toxic derivatives of oxygen. More specifically, the full genetic potential of the child for physical growth ad mental development may be compromised due to deficiency (even subclinical) of micronutrients. Children and adolescents with poor nutritional status are exposed to alterations of mental and behavioural functions that can be corrected by dietary measures, but only to certain extend. Indeed, nutrient composition and meal pattern can exert either immediate or long-term effects, beneficial or adverse. Brain diseases during aging can also be due to failure for protective mechanism, due to dietary deficiencies, for instance in anti-oxidants and nutrients (trace elements, vitamins, non essential micronutrients such as polyphenols) related with protection against free radicals
Now, let’s talk food.


1) Whey:

I know that whey is not a common food in our parts, but I’d include it for those who can afford store-bought and packaged whey. Because it is naturally rich in L-tryptophan, not to mention a whole range of other healing amino acids and nutrients, whey is an excellent food for calming your nervous system naturally. Tryptophan has been shown to be a precursor for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter hormone that regulates endocrine, digestive, nervous system, and blood health. And since low levels of serotonin are linked to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, taking whey can help boost anabolic function.

Whey is also rich in L-glutamine, a non-essential amino acid that is the precursor to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a substance that helps regulate thenervous systemand promote calmness. So if you are not allergic to milk-based foods, taking a high-quality whey protein supplement such as Proventive, One World Whey, or Jay Robb is a great way to boost your overall nutritional intake and feed your body the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy, well-functioning nervous system.

2) Sweet potatoes, yams:

A complex carbohydrate food that contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins, sweet potatoes are another nutritionally-dense food that can helpcalmyour nerves, eliminate stress, and even lower your blood pressure. Similarly, yams contain an array of nutrient compounds that feed the glandular system and promote respiratory, urinary, and nervous system health. Slow it down though as tubers are high in carbohydrates which could lead to obessity when consumed excessively.

3) Bananas:

Many athletes eat bananas after a game or match because the fruit contains potassium, an electrolyte that helps the body stay hydrated. But bananas also contain magnesium, vitamin B6, and other nutrients that help boost production of digestion-enhancing mucous, as well as promote feelings of happiness and calm inside the body. Eating bananas also aids in the production ofserotonin and melatonin, two hormones that regulate mood and sleeping patterns, and promote muscle relaxation and stress relief.

4) Green, herbal tea:

Sometimes the best way to take the edge off is to have a nice cup of warm herbal or green tea. Green tea in particular contains an amino acid known as L-theanine that enhances mood by stimulating the production of alpha waves in the brain. L-theanine also helps reduce stress and promote relaxation naturally.

5) Dark chocolate,cacao;

Similar to whey, dark chocolate and cacao contain L-tryptophan, the neurotransmitter responsible for relaxing the brain. Dark chocolate and cacao also contain magnesium, a mineral widely recognized for its ability to calm the nervous system. Adding a little extra dark chocolate or raw cacao into your diet can help calm your nerves and promote restfulness.

“Chocolate contains a neurotransmitter known as anandamide that has the ability to alter dopamine levels in the brain, causing a sense of peace and relaxation.,” says Dr. Kristie Leong, M.D. “Chocolate is also rich in tryptophan, the precursor to the serotonin which appears to play a role in relieving stress and promoting a sense of calmness.”

7) Spinach:

In order for your brain and nervous system to function as they should, your body needs a high input of fat-soluble vitamins that contribute to the building up of the fatty layers that protect your nerves from damage. And one such vitamin is vitamin K, which you can get in high amounts by eating spinach. Spinach also helps regulate the production of hormones in the nervous system to improve mood, sleeping patterns, and the body’s response to physical activity and stress. Alpha-lipoic acid, a substance your body produces from other nutrients, can be obtained in supplement form and also is present in high levels in liver, spinach and broccoli.

Fish:

One of the best nutrients to help in healing the nervous system are Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The nerves are protected by myelin sheaths, which, according to authors Artemis P. Simopoulos and Leslie G. Cleland in their book, “Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Ratio: The Scientific Evidence,” contain very high levels of fatty acids. Individuals deficient in these fatty acids may suffer nerve damage primarily because of degradation of the myelin sheaths.Omega-3 fatty acids also inhibits overactivity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates certain areas of the brain and can cause excessive buildup of cellular waste products.
High quality meats and Diary: Acetyl-l-carnitineis a supplement that is derived from plants and may help slow the aging of the brain. It also is known to increase memory and clarity of thought. It is also found in high quality meats and dairy; also can be taken as a supplement.
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