4/21/08- 4/25/08


Friday, April 25, 2008

Prevent Cancer Through Lifestyle

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I just reviewed a summary document entitled, “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.” The document was published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research. The recommendations:

  • Be as lean as possible with the normal range of body weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Limit consumption of energy-dense food and avoid sugary drinks.
  • Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
  • Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • Limit consumption of salt.
  • Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.

Each of the eight recommendations has explanations of the recommendation in the report, and I encourage you to read it in detail. It sure seems as though these eight recommendations have been addressed in one form or another throughout this blog during the past six months. It seems that every day we hear of something that is the new cure for cancer. Reading over these recommendations it appears to me that many of us have control over a lot of the items that contribute to that horrible disease. Eat right and exercise. Eat in moderation and get your weight into a normal range. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Don’t drink as much alcohol, and as you recall from yesterday, drink fewer sugary soft drinks. Now we just have to take the advice and get things moving.

Notice no diet plan, no magic pill, no waving of the magic wand. Let me get this straight: Get lean, get active and eat right! Much too simple for us humans, right?

Have a great weekend and tattoo the recommendations in your mind.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Read the report the chancellor mentions above.

As the chancellor states, the guidelines give sensible recommendations about eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. They advise against eating a lot of foods high in calories, limiting red meat intake and eating mainly foods of plant origin. In several blogs we have talked about the phytochemicals in plants being protective against many chronic diseases, including cancer. The current recommendations state that we should try to get our nutritional needs through diet and not try to take supplements. Many of the studies on supplements actually have yielded completely different results than what was expected, maybe even increasing cancer risk rather than decreasing it.

The recommendations also include a statement about being physically active. Physical activity alone seems to improve health and reduce cancer risk. Try to make small changes as you start but keep the goal in mind: optimum health through diet and exercise.

Heli Roy


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drink Fewer Calories

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Ever had an RC Cola and a moon pie? I bet you young'uns don’t even know what RC stands for anyway, much less have eaten a moon pie. I have had many RC’s and eaten my fair share of moon pies. You might think that such cuisine is bad for you. But I found out that we are a lot worse off today when it comes to the consumption of sugary drinks than we were back in the good ole days. In fact, it is estimated that 50 percent of the increase in calorie intake is coming from drinking sweetened beverages such as sodas. This data was reported in a recent article in Obesity Research. According to the article, the percentage of calories from beverages significantly increased from 1965 through 2002, and this represents an overall increase of 222 calories per person per day from beverages, largely from sweetened beverages. Simply put, we are drinking too many of our calories. Too many empty calories.

I didn’t realize you could become addicted to soft drinks, but I have now found many people who are. They are addicted to their daily consumption of sugary soft drinks just as a smoker is his cigarettes. And many of our kids drink soft drinks like water. In fact, they drink them instead of water.

From the days of the RC Cola and the moon pie, we have come along way. Have you looked at the soft drink/water section of a convenience store lately? There must be 147 ways to drink water and sugar in as many forms as one can imagine. Even the TV commercials give us the new fad drink du jour. Read the labels for some sticker shock on calories.

Back in the good ole days, things were simpler with such consumables as RC Cola and moon pies. Strangely enough, I was thin.

Don’t miss the blog for tomorrow. I will unveil the secrets to reducing your cancer risk.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in the intake of sweetened beverages since the late 1960’s. According to the research, there has been a decline in milk consumption at the same time. Evidently, up to half of the increased calories we consume today come from calorically sweetened beverages, such as soda. And this is true across all ethnicities and income levels. This shift contributes to the increased levels of overweight and obesity we see today.

The Institute of Medicine Panel on Water and Electrolytes, the Beverage Guidance Panel, and the U.S. 2005 Dietary Guidelines panel have noted excessive added sugar in the U.S. diet from calorically sweetened beverages. This observation has led to outlining recommended beverage patterns. The overarching goal of these recommendations is to provide for adequate hydration and nutrient consumption while keeping added calories from beverages at a minimum.

The Beverage Guidance Panel includes six leading nutrition researchers from across the country. Based on their knowledge of health and nutrition, the panel recommends the following range of intake for beverages:


Beverage type

Amount in
fl oz

Level 6

Calorically sweetened beverages without nutrients


Level 5

Calorically sweetened beverages with some nutrients: Fruit juices and alcohol


Level 4

Non-calorically sweetened beverages

0 - 32

Level 3

Low fat milk


Level 2

Tea, coffee, unsweetened

0 - 40

Level 1

100 percent water

20 - 50

Total intake


Interestingly enough, another group of researchers also reported in an issue of Obesity Research that replacing sweetened caloric beverages with water would reduce our caloric intake by more than 200 calories. A group of more than 300 women took part in a study where they were asked to replace sweetened beverages with water. Initial intake of sweetened beverages ranged from one to five 12-ounce servings a day. For some, sweetened beverages contributed up to 60 percent of daily calories when the study began. Over a year’s time, it was reduced to less than one 12-ounce drink a day. At the end of the year, they were still consuming less calories, and they were drinking more water.

I hope this will encourage all of you to look at your fluid intake and compare it to the one recommended by the experts. Replacing sweetened beverages with water is an easy way to reduce calories.

Heli Roy

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Plate Full of Color

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Had any fruit lately? How about vegetables? I know you think that all we talk about is fruits and vegetables. I hated it when my parents nagged me eat my veggies. Now, here I am telling you that you should eat yours. Yes, you should eat your fruits and vegetables, but why?

Because they’re good for you – better than my parents thought. Research studies indicate that eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the long-term risk of weight gain and obesity among adults. But why?

Fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and isoflavones, and eating them helps your body ward off diseases. Fruits and vegetables give you a natural supply of certain vitamins and minerals. But why? Why? Why?

Read below, and stop asking why. Just add them to your plate every day. Go to a farmer’s market and buy them fresh.

I use to think that if you had a diet drink with a cheeseburger and french fries, you controlled your calories and came out even. As humans, we are not really smart when it comes to deciding what and why we eat things. Tomorrow we will talk about soft drinks and obesity.

In the meantime, eat your veggies.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Research continues to uncover information about the different phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables and their health effects. Dietitians and nutritionists have recommended eating fruits and vegetables for years because of the vitamins, minerals and fiber they contain. Research has moved beyond the nutrients, however, and into other components in fruits and vegetables – phytochemcials. Many of the phytochemicals have been identified and isolated. These isolates have been studied in laboratory animals to see what effect they have on cancer development, lipid oxidation and metabolism. A recent publication in a premier nutrition journal revealed that isoflavones in soy and other vegetables such as beans have anti-inflammatory properties. The root of many of the common chronic diseases appears to be inflammation. As we age, we produce more inflammatory chemicals in our bodies. Smoking, alcohol, certain drugs and sunlight also increase inflammatory chemicals in the body. Antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and others, reduce these inflammatory chemicals as do certain compounds in fruits and vegetables. These anti-inflammatory isoflavones can be found in many foods, but the best known source is the soybean and legumes. The soy isoflavones are responsible for most of the soy health benefits. A recent study has demonstrated that isoflavones have potent antioxidant properties, comparable to that of the well-known antioxidant, vitamin E. The antioxidant powers of isoflavones can reduce the long-term risk of cancer by preventing free radical damage to DNA. You may have heard or read about soy isoflavones called genistein and daidzein. These are the most potent antioxidants among the soy isoflavones.

Many large-scale studies have shown that the intake of fruits and vegetables reduce the incidence of many common forms of cancer, and diets rich in plant foods are also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and many chronic diseases of aging. These effects are due to the many phytochemicals they contain and their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Many phytochemicals are the color compounds in fruits and vegetables, hence the recommendation to include a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables in the diet. For example, red foods contain lycopene, the pigment in tomatoes, which is localized in the prostate gland and may be involved in maintaining prostate health, and which has also been linked with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Green foods including broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale contain glucosinolates, which have also been associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Garlic and other white-green foods in the onion family contain allyl sulphides, which may inhibit cancer cell growth.

What about fruits and vegetables and obesity? Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have studied the concept of energy density for many years. Foods such as fruits and vegetables have low energy density because they are heavy by weight but low in calories. Recent research revealed that when individuals were asked to consume nine to 12 daily servings of fruits and vegetables and two to three servings of low-fat dairy a day, those that increased their fruit and vegetable intake the most lost the most weight – an average of 13 pounds over six months.

We have come a long way from the reasons our parents recommended fruits and vegetables. Today, we know the powerful phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables can prevent or delay chronic diseases, and that is why the recommendations for fruits and vegetables were increased in the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid. Make Smart Choices and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eat More Whole Grains

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The word about whole grains is getting out. While shopping for some cereal recently, I noticed a number of cereals advertising themselves as whole-grain. You can get a cereal in about any whole-grain form you like, and some even say that they have more than one whole grain in the cereal.

A recent study reported on the relationship between whole grains in the diet and chronic disease. The conclusion is that intake of whole grains affects weight, BMI and waist circumstances. In everyday language that means eating more whole grains can help with weight control and big bellies.

Before buying a product that advertises itself as whole-grain, though, read the label. Make sure you are getting a whole grain. I found that some products that call themselves whole-grain are not. Furthermore, it appears to me that the more natural our foods are, the better they are for us. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. These products are less processed and good for you. Eat plenty.

Finally, if you are serious about the lifestyle change, then shifting your nutrition plan to incorporate more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables appears to be a good first step.

I’ll discuss the fruit part of your nutrition plan tomorrow. In the meantime, get out and move around.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The study that the chancellor mentions was published in the December issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The publication is part of an ongoing Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA). This study was begun in 1958, and volunteers have been followed since 1978. The National Institute on Aging supports the BLSA, America's longest-running scientific study of human aging. BLSA scientists are learning what happens as people age and how to sort out changes due to aging from those due to disease or other causes. More than 1,400 men and women are study volunteers. They range in age from their 20s to their 90s. Participants return yearly for assessments on weight, height and body composition. Some of them also take part in an optional dietary assessment portion of the study. The subjects that volunteered for the dietary assessment keep seven-day diet records.

In this study, age was positively related to intake of whole grains and cereal fiber and negatively related to refined grains. The average age of those who had the highest intake of whole grains was 63.3 years versus 52.4 years for those that had the least whole grains in their diets. That is more than 10 years between the highest and lowest intakes of whole grains. Those that had the highest intake also had a higher proportion of calories from carbohydrates; they had a higher intake of fiber, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin E and B-6 and a lower intake of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. All of the health-related variables such as body composition, weight, blood lipids, waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose and insulin levels were lower with higher intake of whole grains with the highest quintile having the lowest values. Similarly, when they looked at cereal fiber intake versus body weight and composition, the same held true. Those that had a higher intake of cereal fiber had lower BMI, body weight and waist circumference than those that ate the least dietary fiber, and the incidence of hypertension was less.

I believe that this study really shows the significance and benefits of whole grains. The results from this study and many more like it are the reasons that the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we eat at least half of our grains as whole grains. The lowest whole grain intake in this study was less than one gram a day with the highest intake being almost 46 grams a day. The highest intake would translate to about 2-3 servings of whole grain products in a day. Whole grains are high in fiber, plant protein, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, resistant starch, phytate and many other healthful substances.

What are whole grains? Look for the label to state “whole grain” in large letters on the package. Sometimes manufacturers use phrases similar to that but they do not mean the product is a whole-grain product. For example, “made with whole grain,” means that the product contains some whole wheat or other whole grain, but refined flour is likely the first ingredient.

“100% wheat” means that the only grain contained in the product is wheat, but it might be refined grain, not whole wheat.

“Multigrain” means the product contains more than one kind of grain, but it does not indicate that any of them are whole grain.

“Stone ground” refers to a product that contains grain that is coarsely ground but it could still have refined flour.

“Pumpernickel” is coarse, dark bread made with rye and wheat flours, and the dark color is obtained by molasses and other colorants. It might contain mainly refined flours.

Think about incorporating any of the following in your diet: brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat, wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat or kasha, cracked wheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, triticale, barley, or rye. Try a new grain in a casserole recipe. You might be surprised that you like the flavor and texture it gives.

Heli Roy


2/10/2009 1:16:39 AM
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