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May 30, 2008

Diabetes: Preventing Diabetes With The Traditional Mediterranean Diet

Does a Mediterranean diet prevent type 2 diabetes? Past studies have demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet - one rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish, but low in alcohol, dairy, and meat products - can protect against cardiovascular disease, but until now, little research has been conducted to investigate this healthy eating lifestyle in regards to type 2 diabetes prevention.

Spanish researchers recently concluded a study with roughly 13,000 University of Navarra graduates who had no prior history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The participants' eating habits and lifestyles were monitored periodically over nearly 4 and a half years.

A main finding of the study, published on bmj.com, was that subjects who 'adhered highly' to the Mediterranean lowered their relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes by an impressive 83%. 

"The researchers also found it interesting that the participants who kept strict Mediterranean diets were the ones who were most susceptible to diabetes through risk factors such as older age, a family history of diabetes, and a history of smoking. Since this group was expected to have a higher incidence of diabetes, the authors suggest that their observed lower risk is indicative of the Mediterranean diet's potentially substantial protective ability." (Medical News Today)

Important protective aspects of the Mediterranean diet, in particular, are high fiber and vegetable fat intake, low trans-fatty acids, and moderate alcohol consumption. Also significant was the copious use of virgin olive oil in cooking, salad dressings, and accompanying bread.

Researchers are encouraged by these study results, but caution that "further larger cohorts and trials are needed to confirm [their] findings." Diabetes and weight loss, however, is only part of the bigger picture of type 2 diabetes prevention .

Posted by Laura on May 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 29, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Cherry Quinoa

This healthy recipe from Northwest Cherries is an exciting sweet and tangy entree that uses quinoa, a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. A recently rediscovered ancient "grain" native to South America, quinoa was once called "the gold of the Incas," who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids.

But don't forget the healthy eating power that cherries are packing! Cherries may be small by comparison to other fruits, but they deliver a powerhouse of antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C and E, which promote heart health and help fight certain cancers. Another valuable nutritional benefit found in cherries is Melatonin which has been linked to pain relief in arthritis and gout sufferers.

Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped Anaheim pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries
8 ounces small cooked peeled shrimp
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Prepared salsa, optional

Saute onion and garlic in oil; add broth, quinoa, Anaheim pepper, salt and ground pepper. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 12 to 18 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff mixture with a fork and gently stir in cherries, shrimp and parsley. Serve with salsa, if desired.

Posted by Laura on May 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2008

Healthy Eating: Say Yes to Fish...Sometimes!

Fish is a wonderfully healthy food, rich in omega-3 fatty acids that do all kinds of great things for the body, including acting as an anti-inflammatory that can help quell problems with heart disease and arthritis. It's also rich in protein, can be high or low in fat but it's healthy fat no matter how much it contains, and it's carbohydrate-free (which can be important for those with type 2 diabetes and/or insulin resistance).

That said, there's growing concern that we've mismanaged the fish supply, overfishing some varieties, polluting the ocean so that other varieties are high in toxic substances such as mercury, and farm raising others in a way that pollutes the environment and the fish that are raised in those environments.

It's a complicated picture that I don't profess to understand completely but which I do intend to study more. So when a forwarded email of an interview with the author of the book Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood landed in my inbox, I read it with interest. Was quite a long interview but basic message was that there remain some great seafood choices but we need to know what we're doing. I intend to get a copy of the book to read more, but while I wait to get my copy, I think I'll follow some of the basic recommendations I read in the interiew: farmed fish like trout, Artic char and tilapia, sardines, oysters and mussels, all of which are fish I like and already eat relatively frequently. I've already cut farmed salmon from my menu, but do buy Alaskan salmon when it's at a good price (although still pricey) at the store.

Bottom line: Fish is a great food for healthy eating, weight loss and healthy weights. But we need to choose wisely both to feed ourselves well and to help ensure we'll have plenty of healthy fish to choose from in the future.

Another good site for information on this appears to be the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch.

Posted by Marsha on May 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 27, 2008

The Post Holiday Foodie Blues

Although its officially the 'day after'. I thought it might not be a bad idea to revisit a post about holiday eating  from a couple years ago. Even though the recent long holiday weekend is over, it's not unlikely that there are some of you out there who are dealing with some post holiday eating blues. If that sentiment rings any kind of tinkling truth, take a peek at what we had to say on this issue in 2005. Some things are worth repeating.


Don't Nit Pick at the Picnic!

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Posted by Cindy on May 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 23, 2008

Diabetes: Preventing Diabetes With Diet And Exercise

Several countries have conducted major clinical trials which show how people with glucose intolerance can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by way of healthy lifestyle interventions. However, the long-term efficacy of such interventions have remained in question.

Results from a recently concluded Chinese study (published in a Diabetes Special Issue of The Lancet)  indicate that group-based healthy lifestyle interventions of diet and exercise over a duration of six years may prevent/delay [type 2 diabetes] for up to 14 years following the intervention.

"This study has shown that...group-based interventions targeting lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise produce a durable and long-lasting reduction in incidence of type 2 diabetes..." conclude the authors.

"We propose that lifestyle intervention should start much earlier, when people are normoglycaemic, to achieve true primary prevention of type 2 diabetes and its main consequence, cardiovascular disease," adds Dr Jaana Lindström (National Public Health Institute, Helsinki and University of Helsinki, Finland) and Professor Matti Uusitupa (University of Kuopio, Finland).

(Read full article in Medical News Today)

Posted by Laura on May 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2008

Healthy Recipe: BBQ Mushrooms and Prawns

Relaxed summer meals are easy with mushrooms - just fire up the bbq and toss the mushrooms and prawns on! Fast, easy, and oh so tasty, this healthy recipe can be as informal or formal as the event.  Make this Memorial Day a healthy eating Mushroom Day!

Makes 6 servings

1/3cup olive oil
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
3 tsp grain mustard
salt & ground black pepper
16 (about 500g) green prawns, peeled, deveined
1 cup coriander leaves
4 (about 100g each) flat mushrooms

Combine oil, brown sugar, lemon juice, mustard, salt & pepper in a screw-top jar. Shake well to combine. Place the prawns & 3/4cup coriander in a bowl. Pour over half the dressing & toss well to combine. Place the mushrooms on a plate &drizzle with remaining dressing, cover & place mushrooms & prawns in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Preheat a greased barbecue plate on medium-high. Add the prawns & marinade to the barbecue & cook, tossing frequently, for 2 minutes or until cooked through. Remove to a plate, cover keep warm. Reduce heat to medium, cook the mushrooms for 2 minutes on each side or until just tender.

Place mushrooms onto serving plates, top with prawns, Sprinkle with remaining coriander, season with salt & pepper & serve.

Posted by Laura on May 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2008

Healthy Eating - When Home Grown is the Way to Go!

513534_31088269I drove by a sign this weekend which announced the opening of a farmers market very close to where I live. I was ecstatic! One thing to love about the summer - locally grown produce. Growing up a farmer's daughter, I'm partial, but I think the proof is in the quality and taste.

A good friend of mine who spent several years studying with Campbell's told me some interesting facts about tomatoes the other day. He shared with me that most tomatoes are genetically modified. In layman's terms that means they are managed and manipulated (combining different genetic characterisics together), to look like the tomatoes we all knew and loved. The problem? They are very expensive without the taste, aroma or the love! Sure, they may be tougher to handling shipping around the world, but do they make my BLT taste any better?

Hey, I'm all for capitalism, but when's the last time you bit into a store bought tomato and it tasted like one from grandmas' garden? I think it's time to support you local growers and pick up some produce the way God intended - a bit dirty, sometimes a wee bit bruised but delicious!

Support your local farmers by buying locally grown produce. It's a good 'real' thing.

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Posted by Cindy on May 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2008

Mindful Eating for Healthy Living

Mindful eating was all the rage a week or so ago after the NBC Evening News did a segment on it and then the Wall Street Journal followed up with its own version. The NBC segment was woefully inadequate -- didn't really cover much, but I guess that's the evening news for you. All about soundbites. The Wall Street Journal did a more in-depth piece, but I was disappointed they just used the same sources as NBC did for their piece. A lot more people have been promoting mindful eating -- and for a lot longer time -- than either of these media outlets gave credit for. Of course, I rank Green Mountain at Fox Run among those other people.

Another person who has been at the forefront of trying to change America's attitude about eating and food -- change it back to normal! -- has been Ellyn Satter. I've posted about her work on healthy eating before, and continue to respect her efforts to help in planning healthy meals and then eating them. Here's an example of her thinking from a piece she posted this week on her website about healthy eating.

Eating is a complex brew of preference, habit, attitude, intuition, knowledge, and physical necessity. All must be considered in addressing eating, and critical to them all is enjoyment. Enjoyment of food and reward from eating are essential to having eating and feeding turn out well. When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers. The common themes in all four parts of ecSatter are permission and discipline: the permission to choose food you enjoy and eat it in amounts you find satisfying, and the discipline to provide yourself with regular and reliable meals and snacks and to pay attention when you eat them.

With summer coming on, many of us start to worry even more about eating, given we'll be baring our bodies more while we're enjoying the wonderful times -- and food -- of summer. But if we approach it all mindfully -- understanding that mindful eating helps us eat in a way that truly supports us in feeling well -- we'll help ourselves sail through a fun summer free of distorted attitudes about eating and health...and our bodies will respond positively.

Happy Memorial Day! Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.

- photo by Patricia Dekker

Posted by Marsha on May 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

Weight Loss: Hormone Makes Food More Appealing

My family enjoys going out to Sunday brunch, especially a buffet brunch.  But if you're like me, you sometimes find it difficult to exercise portion control at a smorgasbord!

I've always known that looking at food increases my appetite more so than my husband, who (unlike me) can watch the food channel all day long without getting hungry.  I always wondered at the difference between us, and now researchers may have found the answer.

Published in the journal Cell Metabolism, results of a small study find the hormone ghrelin responsible for food's visual appeal.

Twenty volunteers were recruited to look at pictures of food.  About half of the subjects were given infusions of ghrelin before viewing the pictures, and scans showed that the hormone increased activity in the "reward centers" of the brain, thus making the volunteers hungrier than the control group.

Scientists have known that ghrelin levels in the gastrointestinal tract go up and down before and after meals, respectively, implicating that the hormone is a natural appetite stimulant. If doctors can manipulate this hormone, they may be able to help fight obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

"This is interesting but it is a very small study. People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, blindness and kidney failure", said Jemma Edwards, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.

"Research which could improve our understanding of what affects people's appetites could potentially help us reduce the number of people developing Type 2 diabetes.

"Currently, 300 people are diagnosed with the condition every day. There needs to be further research into this subject and we'll be following it with great interest."

Posted by Laura on May 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

Fitness: Adults can now take president's fitness test

Honestly, I only vaguely remember the fitness test I took in school.  But I'm positive that I never received the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.

Well, now I have my chance to take the test again.

On Wednesday, and adult fitness test was publicized by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The test consists of exercises that millions of students undergo in order to earn a certificate signed by the president.

"What were trying to do is inspire and motivate Americans to move their bodies more," said Melissa Johnson, executive director of the council. Johnson added that the test has become available due to the many baby boomers who repeatedly asked the council for a way to gauge their current fitness.

The Fitness Test

Aerobic fitness, muscular strength and flexibility are the three categories which make up the test, which is appropriate for Americans who are in good health and 18 or older. For specific details, go to The President's Challenge Adult Fitness Test website. Here is a summary below:

  • Aerobic test: a one-mile walk or 1.5-mile run.
    The run is only recommended for people who currently run for at least 20 minutes, three times a week.
  • Strength: Push-ups and half sit-ups.
    The push-ups are done until failure. The sit-ups are done for one minute.
  • Flexibility: a "sit-and-reach" text measures flexibility.

What's Your Score?

Enter the results of the test online along with age, gender, height and weight to calculate the final score. You won't earn a certificate, but you'll find out how you rank among others your age.  But don't worry about the competition.  Try taking the fitness test once for a baseline and then compete against yourself in a month or so.  It's a great way to create a fitness goal and stay motivated!

"The point is to do consistent, regular physical activity and these are good check-in points to see how fit people are," Johnson said.

Posted by Laura on May 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack