Sunday, November 22, 2015

Food and Skin Health

What more can one want than perfect, glistening clear skin free from wrinkles and pesky acne marks? Our skin is considered the largest organ in our bodies, along side with our intestines, lungs and liver of course. Many people are self conscious about their skin and how it appears. It is very important to take care of your skin, as it serves as the first defense against germs and the environment and converts sunlight to vitamin D. Along with avoiding smoking, staying out of the sun for long periods of time and always wearing SPF sunscreen, there are some great nutritious foods that can help maintain skin health!

Try including these foods in your diet for better, healthier skin:

§  Antioxidants- Vitamin A, C and E have been shown to decrease the risk of sun and other environmental damage

Vitamin A foods: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes, spinach, cantaloupe, greens and kale

Vitamin C foods: orange juice, grapefruit juice, papayas, strawberries, kiwis, red and green peppers, cantaloupe, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower

Vitamin E foods: vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, olives, spinach and asparagus

§  Smart Fats- Increase intake of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids to help greater skin. Omega-3s from fish may guard against sun damage, according to recent studies. Monounsaturated fats have also been found to help in skin pH

Omega-3 fatty acids: fish, ground flaxseed, walnuts and brands of eggs

Monounsaturated fats: olive oil, canola oil, almond oil, hazelnut oil, avocados, olives, almonds and hazelnuts

§  Whole Foods- A study shows that those who ate a diet rich in “whole foods” had less wrinkling and premature skin aging than those who ate a diet not rich in whole foods, such as whole milk, processed meats, butter, potatoes and sugar

Whole foods: vegetables, fruits, legumes, eggs, yogurt, nuts, oils rich in monounsaturated fats, multigrain bread, tea and water

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Does Coffee Have Health Benefits?

To a college student, there is nothing better than a steamy cup of coffee.  Without that first cup in the morning, many of us think we won’t be able to get through our first class, let alone the entire day.  Whether it is out of habit, or for an extra energy boost, as the day goes on we tend to keep refilling our cup.  As it turns out, a recent study suggests the moderate consumption of coffee can actually provide some positive health benefits.

The data was compiled from 74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, 93,054 from the Nurses’ Health Study 2, as well as 40,557 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.  The participants’ completed a questionnaire concerning their dietary habits every 4 years.  The results indicate that those who drank a moderate amount of coffee, considered less than 5 cups per day, “experienced a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes, and suicide.”  Dr. Ming Ding, the lead author of the study notes, “bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation.” 

However, there have been several prior studies regarding coffee’s effects that produced inconstant results.  These studies have shown to contradict the current study, indicating that coffee actually increases cardiovascular risk.  So what should you take away from this study?  Dr. Frank Hu, another author of the study cautions, “regular consumption of coffee can be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet.  However, certain populations such as pregnant women and children should be cautious about high caffeine intake from coffee or other beverages.”  As far as the other ingredients present in coffee, Dr. Ding and Dr. Hu hope that further research will help uncover the roles and effects of these individual ingredients.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Energy Boosting or Health Deflating?

If you are ever tempted to reach for a Rockstar Energy drink, you may want to think again. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic conducted a study to see what this energy drink does to the body. A group of 25 volunteers helped with the study, each who downed a 16 oz Rockstar on an empty stomach. The group was composed of healthy individuals whose average age was 29 and BMI of 25. Rockstar contains 240 mg of caffeine, in addition to taurine, (an amino acid that has been suggested to improve mental performance in combination with caffeine), guarana seed (which contains caffeine), ginseng root and milk thistle extracts. As a reference point, only 300-400 mg of caffeine is what a healthy adult can safely consume. The study was double blind, meaning neither the participants nor researchers knew which drink was the placebo (an energy drink that was identical in every way except without the caffeine). Both drinks increased heart rate a bit, but the primary difference was in the norepinephrine levels, a precursor to epinephrine- AKA adrenaline. This increase in norepinephrine occurred just within 30 minutes- talk about a sky high energy boost! The main concern researchers had was the raise in blood pressure and norepinephrine levels, as they could make people more at risk for cardiovascular problems. So the next time you’re having an urge for an energy drink like a Rockstar, try another form of energy boosting nutrition.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Studies For Our Environment: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

As Global Warming continues to become a more prevalent issue environmentally, it is more important than ever to make some changes that will decrease your carbon footprint on our planet. A carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment through our day-to-day activities. One may think, “I’m just one person, I’m not going to have a big enough impact”. This is untrue, however. On average, one single American adds 19.2 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. If you’re interested in decreasing your carbon footprint for our environment, here are some ways in which you can do so:

·      Where and what kinds of foods you purchase have an influence on your carbon footprint, believe it or not. Purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables not only saves fossil fuels, but they are cheaper, they retain more nutrients, and they taste better too. It is also a great way to support your community and local farmers!

·      Eating organic has an effect on your carbon footprint, as well. In general, it is believed that organic produce is more expensive than conventional foods. Studies have conducted, however, and have proved that most in-season organic foods do not cost much more than conventional foods. Other studies regarding organic food have proven that they can reduce nutrient pollution, improve soil organic matter, lower energy use, reduce pesticide residues in food and water, and enhance biodiversity, which benefits farms when unpredictable weather strikes.

·      Have you ever thought of bringing your own bags to the grocery store?  Think about all the extra bags you have sitting around your house. Those could easily be used for groceries! On average, there are100 billion petroleum-based plastic bags used each year in the U.S.  These bags usually end up in landfills, causing pollution and litter to pile up over time. Some stores, such as Aldi, have been encouraging customers to B.Y.O.B (bring your own bag) for about 100 years now. Many other grocery stores, such as Target and Kroger, have begun paying customers who use reusable bags at their stores.

·      The easiest way to conserve energy and reduce your carbon footprint is in the comfort of your own home! Some ways you can do so are by: running the hood fan when cooking in the summer in order to reduce the usage of AC to cool the house, defrost food ahead of time in the refrigerator rather than in the sink, cook larger quantities of food and freeze the rest for later in the week, repair leaky faucets, and compost your food waste.

These are some simple and easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint! For more information about ways in which you can help the environment, click on the link below:

Additional Sources:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

All For Fiber and Fiber For All

            Although we generally associate fatty foods with weight gain, low-fiber diets may also contribute to weight gain. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber scoots through the gastrointestinal track and nourishes the bacterium in the large intestine. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water in the gut and can bind to cholesterol and bile acids, helping eliminate them from the body. Soluble fiber is also digested the slowest, meaning it satisfies the appetite, and can help regulate blood sugar levels. Researches located at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State found that mice supplemented with a diet rich in soluble fiber had decreased weight gain and less fat accumulation compared to mice that supplemented a diet deficient in soluble fiber. What’s more, is that the mice nourished with a high soluble fiber diet had increased production of short-chain fatty acids, which are readily used by the body. Overall, this data supports the claim that a diet rich in soluble fiber may play a role in weight management by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids. The recommended daily allowance of fiber for adult males and females under 50 is 38 g and 26 g, respectively. Males and females over 50 should aim for about 30 g and 21 g, respectively.

See the full article at: