It seems as though every week we learn something new about the real power of nutrition. Recently, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) funded scientists at the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research and found some interesting information.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) and the vision loss associated with it may be connected to the “quality” of carbohydrates.
One study showed that a regular consumption of a “slow carb” ( low glycemic index) diet provided a protective effect against macular degeneration. A food’s glycemic index is an indicator of how fast the carbohydrate it contains will spike blood sugar levels.
So how do you keep your glycemic index in check? To learn more about which carbs produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels, check out http://www.glycemicindex.com/ and follow their recommendations:
1. Pile half your dinner plate high with vegetables or salad
Aim to eat at least five serves of vegetables (this doesn’t include the starchy ones like potatoes, sweet potatoes or sweet corn) every day, and aim for foods with a variety of of colors.
2. Cut back on most potatoes
If you are a big potato eater and can’t bear the thought of giving them up, you don’t have to. Just cut back on the quantity. Don’t be afraid of trying other starchy vegetables like sweet potato, yams or taro, steamed, roasted or mashed.
3. Swap your bread
Choose a really grainy bread where you can actually see the grains, granary bread, stoneground wholemeal bread, real sourdough bread, soy and linseed bread, pumpernickel, fruit loaf or bread made from chickpea or other legume based flours.
4. Replace those high GI crunchy breakfast flakes
These refined breakfast cereals spike your blood glucose and insulin levels. Replace them with smart carbs like natural muesli or traditional (not instant) porridge oats or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals that will trickle fuel into your engine.
5. Make your starchy staples the low GI ones
Look for the low GI rice’s, serve your pasta al dente, choose less processed foods such as large flake or rolled oats for porridge or muesli and intact grains such as barley, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, whole kernel rye, or whole wheat kernels and opt for lower GI starchy vegetables.
6. Learn to love legumes!
Include legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas in your meals two or three times a week, more often if you are vegetarian. Add chickpeas to a stir fry, red kidney beans to a chili, a bean salad to that barbecue menu, and beans or lentils to a casserole or soup.
7. Develop the art of combining
No need to cut out all high GI carbs. The trick is to combine them with those low GI tricklers to achieve a moderate overall GI. How? Lentils with rice (think of that delicious classic Italian soup), rice with beans and chili, tabbouli tucked into pita bread (with falafels and a dash of hummus), baked beans on toast or piled on a jacket-baked potato for classic comfort food.
8. Incorporate a lean protein source with every meal
Eat lean meat, skinless chicken, fish and seafood, eggs, milk, yoghurt or cheese, or legumes and tofu if you are vegetarian. The protein portion should make up around a quarter of the plate/meal.
9. Tickle your taste buds
Try vinaigrette (using vinegar or lemon juice with a dash of extra virgin olive oil) with salads, yogurt with cereal, lemon juice on vegetables like asparagus, or sourdough bread. These foods contain acids, which slow stomach emptying and lower your blood glucose response to the carbs in the meal.
10. Go low GI when snacking
If it is healthful and low GI, keep it handy. Grab fresh fruit, dried fruit, or fruit and nut mix, low fat milk and yogurt (or soy alternatives), fruit bread etc for snacks. Limit (this means don’t buy them every week) high GI refined flour products whether home baked or from the supermarket such as cookies, cakes, pastries, crumpets, crackers, biscuits, irrespective of their fat and sugar content. These really are the ‘keep for the occasional treat’ foods.
Keep your eye on the serving size. Remember portion caution with carb rich foods such as rice, al dente pasta and noodles, potatoes etc. Eating a huge amount of these foods, even of the low GI variety, will have a marked effect on your blood glucose. A cup of cooked noodles or al dente pasta or rice plus plenty of mixed non starchy vegetables and a little lean protein can turn into 3 cups of a very satisfying meal.
Most of all, recognize that protective nutrients are in each and every meal that you eat, and we all my have the power to stave off certain age related conditions.
How much of our health depends on our family genes? How much can we influence our own lifespan? These are questions that I have discussed with friends and family over the years and are questions that interest me for oomphTV.
I recently came across an article in the LA Times about a rapidly growing field in health called Epigenetics that caught my eye.
We all have an idea of what DNA is and what it does. I just learned there is a kind of secondary code, carried along with the DNA, called the “epigenome.” This code is a set of chemical marks, attached to the genes, that act like the DNA referees. They turn off some genes and let others do their thing.
And although the epigenome is pretty stable, it can change. This means lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and drug use could have lasting effects on how the body works.
“The thing I love about epigenetics is that you have the potential to alter your destiny,” says Randy Jirtle, who studies epigenetics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
The epigenome is part of what tells different cells in the body which DNA recipes to read and which to ignore. The small chemicals that attach to the DNA may cover up or restrict access to genes that aren’t needed and keep others wide open and readable.
Jirtle compares the system to a computer: The DNA is the hardware – set and unchanging- and the epigenome is the software that tells it when, where and how to work. Some very important stuff here.
Epigenetics might be especially important for pregnant women and infants, because much of the epigenetic code is laid down early in development. Some experts speculate that the time before puberty might also be important, since the genome and epgenome are gearing up to launch new genetic programs.
So why should those of us over 40 care about about epigenetics? Because the epigenome can also be altered in our adulthood. Epigenome may change in response to what you had for breakfast today, or the stress you feel after a tough day.
Genes are not just “on” or “off.” They can be on just a little bit, on a lot and everything in between. So referees, both the short-term and long-term types, turn genes up or down, rather like the dimmer switch for a lamp.
And many genes can be turned up or down by changes in behavior and environment. For example, researchers at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., studied 30 men with prostrate cancer. These men declined traditional medical treatment and instead underwent a three-month program that included a healthy diet, moderate exercise and daily stress management.
When the researchers examined gene activity in the men’s prostate biopsy samples, they found that 48 genes were turned up and 453 were turned down, compared with gene activity at the beginning of the study. The authors noted that the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, was small and needs to be repeated to be sure of the effects.
Though the science of epigenetics is young, scientists think there’s good reason to think about how lifestyle choices may affect the epigenome.
So the next time you eat a healthy meal or finish a good round of exercise, think of those little epigenomes. Hopefully you are helping them make good decisions and giving them a little oomph!
I am Linda D. and I am a food addict. When and where did this addiction come from? Aren’t we all food addicts to some degree or another? Everyone has to eat, right? These are some of the questions I’ve pondered during my meditation, during conversations, and on hundreds of other random occasions during the course of my working the FA- Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous program over the past 15-months.
Realizing that I was, in fact, an addict was the first step in my recovery. To these following questions, published in FA approved literature, I answered YES, YES, YES, YES…!
• Have you ever wanted to stop eating and couldn’t? “Yah!”
• Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting successes? “Totally!”
• Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people? “U-ha.”
• Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concern about your eating habits or weight? “Yup.”
• Do you eat large quantities of food at a time? “Sure.”
• Is your weight problem due to “nibbling” all day long? “Partly.”
• Do you eat to escape from your feelings? “Sometimes.”
• Do you eat when you’re not hungry? “Often.”
• Do you eat in secret? “I have.”
• Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you’ve eaten? “Sadly.”
• Are you waiting for your life to begin “when” you lose the weight? “Yes.”
• Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food? “I surrender!”
When I finally surrendered and said, “Enough is enough!,” that’s when my weight loss started. For me, and I think for countless other people, my addiction was in my head. I’m hard wired for flour and sweets. My problem default was to run to food when I was happy, sad, lonely, excited, celebratory, nervous, and God forbid, hungry. When did this chaos start? Well, let’s put it this way…as a child I named my first dog “Ralph” (named after the supermarket in my neighborhood.), my tortoise’s name is “Steak” (Yes, “is” Steak because I still have him. He’s over 45-years old.), my baby doll’s name was “Sugar,” and I even named my cat after a popular cat food brand, “Frisky” (Wow! I just remembered that I used to sit and eat his cat food with him too. Ooooa!) I named things I loved after things I loved…food! My food addiction started a long time ago. Sugar and flour are drugs. They altered my chemistry. I felt different after eating them but I always wanted more. How did I get it more? Being 7 years-old, what did I have to offer? Boobies! The neighbor boys had candy cigarettes and I had boobies. It was the perfect barter. I carried that shame around for years. Food addiction started a long time ago for me.
Even with over 50 pounds of weight loss, I am still a food addict. With help, I have it in check one day at a time. There is no longer shame around my food or the way I look. The meals I make are made with ingredients that God intended me to eat—fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and grains. Today, I cook better and more exciting meals than I did when I was heavy. Dinner used to be a bag of tortilla chips and salsa. Thank God those days are over.
If you think that you may be a food addict, there is a solution. Please visit foodaddicts.org to find a local chapter close to you and attend a few meetings.
I’m Linda and I’m a food addict. Saying this statement to others and myself is a gentle reminder of who I am, where I’ve been, and what I could easily revert back to if not mindful. My food program is something I work on daily. Thank you fellows, family, and friends for all you have done to support me on my daily journey with food addiction. I did not and do not do this alone! Doing it alone NEVER worked before, so thank you!
While backpacking in the high country of Yosemite with a friend, the topic of my dramatic weight loss came up and an interesting metaphor for life materialized. As I stated before, I did not achieve my weight loss alone. Standing in the forest, below a vast expanse of hearty Douglas Firs, I realized the tremendous power in numbers. A mature forest stands strong as a whole. Seedlings are protected. When I started FA, I was a seedling, so vulnerable. My fellows and a veteran sponsor, with 5-years of abstinence, showed me the way and helped me weather many a storm. In recovery, I began to grow strong emotionally, spiritual cornerstones were put in place, and my healthy, new body started to appear. I was a maturing tree reaching rapidly towards the life giving sunshine. However, even in nature, not everything is perfect. Early on those storms happened almost daily, usually manifesting in the form of some floury and sugary product seen on TV, in a store, at the gas station, at work, and even in my dreams. I realized the power it had over me. Experienced fellows shared that these “cravings” weren’t hunger, rather “feelings” that churned away in my stomach and mind. My natural default was to reach for food, which worked but left me numb, fat, and unhappy. Getting support was the only way to get to the next day. Some days, it was difficult to see beyond that. But with help, especially from my sponsor and fellows, the storms passed without me picking up a floury or sugary item. What I now eat are vegetables, fruits, meats and grains in a kaleidoscope of amazing colors, of which I love! Thank God!
Today, I am amazed to say, that my seedling has turned into a tree. I am firmly planted in a forest where I have been given the opportunity to shield and guide others during storms and bouts with uncontrollable cravings. Do I still suffer with cravings at times? Yes! However, abstaining from flour, sugar, and quantities is my first choice. My new lifestyle affords me oomph that I only imagined before.
It’s Monday, August 24th. I am 40 years old, 5’8” tall, and weigh 139 pounds. I have 54 pounds of permanent weight loss and have been in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) for 13-months. To learn more about my food program, please visit www.foodaddicts.org and attend a meeting near you.
My name is Linda and I am a food addict! “A what?” you may ask, which is just what my husband asked when I told him. Yes! I am a food addict; I am addicted to food.
One year ago, this month, I began a journey that took me to a beautiful, peaceful, healthy new place…the place where I now reside…in my right sized body! In 6 months I lost 55 pounds, 40 of which I’ve carried around, thus far, through my entire adult life. Since high school I’ve been overweight and for the last ten years, although it’s hard to say, I was obese. The failed weight loss attempts over the last decade left me feeling powerless, moneyless, and depressed. Last year, I was turning 40, living with high cholesterol, wearing a size 16 and resolved that this was just the way it was going to be.
Food had a stronghold on my life; I was addicted to it and still am, but I have learned to utilize tools that help me keep it in check, one day, one meal at a time. I found a solution! Well, no, it found me—while sitting on a couch at a party in the Hollywood Hills. I had been observing a close friend experiencing gradual, yet steady weight loss.
That fateful, summer evening, she encouraged me to go to her Saturday morning meeting in Sherman Oaks. It wasn’t Weight Watchers…been there, done that! I went, not knowing what to expect. There I listened to a speaker share about her experience, strength, and hope. She lived a life as a heavy person; I know because I saw the pictures! MY heartbreak, MY insecurities, MY story came pouring out of HER mouth. I cried. God, my dear friend, and this speaker, someone I didn’t even know, gave me a solution that has forever changed my life. I decided that day to join Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA).
For three days I cried every time I thought about the new direction I was taking in my life. I was in mourning! I was mourning the death of three very close, yet caustic friends…flour, sugar, and quantities. These friends were fun in the short run and, as I later learned, had filled a real void in me. The aftermath that remained, however, was long lasting–obesity, greater depression, insecurity, high cholesterol, secrecy, detachment, and the list goes on.
Today, I am eating healthy portions of meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains. And today I have new friends: Myself, God, people in my FA program, my family, and my old friends. These friends have always been here for me, but I wasn’t capable of receiving the gifts they carried. Food was always in the way and now, with food in its proper place, I am free, peaceful, a size 6 (never dreamed that), 138 pounds (never dreamed that either), and a very proud, recovering food addict! I can sincerely say that I, by definition, NOW have oomph! I have more energy and vitality, feel sexy in my new body and gorgeous right sized clothes, and most importantly, I am enthusiastic about my life today. My future has 10-15 healthier years tacked onto its’ tail end. That, I am certain! Please revisit www.oomphtv.com, for more entries about my journey with food addiction.
Also, please visit Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) at www.foodaddicts.org