Why care about health? It’s about statistics.

The rate of cancer incidence has increased greatly in many countries and is expected to continue to increase, particularly in association with the aging of the population. Cancer is more often a diagnosis after age 65.  The rate of thyroid cancer in particular has increased greatly in women. The rate of developing some type of cancer during one’s lifetime is expected to reach 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women by the yea 2050, (MedScape) – or a more general 1 in 2 people, (medicalnewstoday) – those are not good odds.

It is common during youth to feel secure about health but our bodies tend to run out of stored nutrients as we age and metabolic pathways that we depend on to rebuild muscle and remove toxins or defective cells can become less effective. A healthy immune system also protects us from our own body’s normal rebuilding/regrowth of new cells. Defective ones are typically removed from growth areas in bone marrow before they enter circulation. Cancer cells are also removed on a regular basis when our immune systems are healthy.

Magnesium deficiency is a topic I keep stressing because the immune cells require magnesium in order to perform the apoptosis, killing, of defective or precancerous cells. The body’s defense systems are well developed but need fuel on a daily basis in order to be able to function as nature designed. While immune cells need magnesium in order to purposefully kill defective cells by apoptosis ( an enzyme is inserted into the cell which causes it to die and then the immune cell engulfs the debris and removes it for detoxification and excretion from the body), a cell that is deficient in magnesium or calcium may also undergo apoptosis due to the deficiency. (magnesium and apoptosis)

Too little Nrf2 may reduce immune system and antioxidant health but too much can be a problem in cancer cells that grow too rapidly. (Nrf2 overproduction and cancer)

Another person writing about the recent research in the area of Nrf2 shares more information about foods that help promote Nrf2 and how nature may have built in a mechanism within some foods that help prevent an over production of the important protein (Nrf2). See: “Activate Nrf2, then optimize: Brussel Sprouts.” – Bill Lagokos (patreon) /Spoiler, if not a fan of Brussel Sprouts the healthy phytonutrient that is discussed is also found in cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, and kale.

I personally am more sensitive to the group, especially if served raw or in larger quantities, but find steamed kale everyday tolerable to my digestive system. The bloating effect may be due to our good guy bacteria enjoying the fiber rich vegetables so much they produce the excess gas – but it can be a sign of healthy bacteria in our digestive tract. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be affected by any food that causes bloating effects possibly due to TRP channel’s being activated by increased pressure. People with a history of IBS and other chronic pain syndromes may be suffereing from an underlying issue with overactive TRP ion channels. IBS and TRP channels are discussed on this site in a previous post. TRP channels are discussed in more detail with links on another website: Chronic Itch, migraines, IBS and stress; – that is one part frm a longer series: Relaxation and Stress, which is continued in:  Preeclampsia & TRP Channels.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Being grateful for our bitter sensing tastebuds

A sensitivity for the bitter tastes in life may be linked to the pain relief and other healing benefits we gain from the phytonutrients that are the active ingredient in the pain relief tablets of Aspirin TM. Salicin/salcylic acid/salicylates are a group of phytonutrients found in berries and other fruits and some vegetables and in many spices used in India. A reduced cancer rate in people of rural India is speculated to be associated with the increased use of traditional foods and cooking spices in the their diet. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16608205)

Some people may have food sensitivities or allergies to the group of phyotnutrients and a list of foods lower in the nutrients then other foods and those, such as buckwheat, that have more of the nutrients available than average here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b04313

Aspirin was developed from analysis of the Willow Bark Tea, which was a traditional medicinal remedy for pain relief.   https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319610310000578

Some people have more sensitive perception of the bitter taste and it was found to be associated with increased sensitivity to the salicin content of foods. The genetic difference developed around 1.1 million years ago. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131111185522.htm

Addition 5/12/18: I had a genetic screening test done recently and learned that I do have a genetic difference in my ability to taste bitter flavors that may have made me more sensitive to lower amounts of bitter substances as a child and then might have gotten used to more bitter flavors as an adult. https://www.snpedia.com/index.php/gs227

So a spoonful of medicine may need a little sugar to help the bitters go down better.

(pun intended, Bitters was an old type of medicine based on quinine that was occasionally used in alcoholic mixed drinks and was called Bitters because of it’s bitter, sour or bittersweet flavor, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitters

This article about a study with less than 1000 people that is making links between food taste preferences and psychiatric tendencies is sensationalistic and unreliable with such a small group of people. nypost.com/2017/12/31/if-you-like-gin-and-tonic-you-might-be-a-psychopath/ Certain illnesses and some medications can cause an increased sense of bitterness in taste whether or not the food is very bitter to the average person. bitter+taste+preference+and+inflammatory+conditions

I’ve written about this topic before with excerpts from two research articles. The post includes a list of some foods and spices salicylate content: Carrots, spices and Baby Aspirin may help prevent cancer and inflammationhttp://transcendingsquare.com/2011/10/21/carrots-spices-and-baby-aspirin-help-prevent-cancer-and-inflammation/

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Luck is about being grateful for what you have

I’m not superstitious, I believe good luck is in part simply being grateful for what you have or what you receive. Having a positive attitude in itself may be more physiologically healthy than a negative attitude, so being grateful for what you have may help health by promoting a more positive mood.

Respecting tradition, or participating in tradition, is also something I appreciate. Having black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day wasn’t a family tradition while I was growing up. I first tried black-eyed peas  and tried cooking them after learning of their significant nutritional benefits. The southern tradition may have started out of a negative situation – no other food to eat, but the people left hungry got lucky in the food that was available.

Black -eyed peas are a very good source of folate, a B vitamin that is important for the immune system and for a good energy level by promoting healthy fully mature red blood cells. Without adequate folate a type of anemia with immature, non-functional or poorly functioning red blood cells can occur even when adequate iron is available in the diet. Black-eyed peas can help prevent anemia risk with the folate content and their iron content is also quite good at 2.2 milligrams per 1/2 cup serving. (Black-eyed Peas Health Benefits Including Anemia Prevention, Health Tips)

Per 100 grams of the food (about 4 ounces or 1/2 cup), black-eyed peas have 208 micrograms of folate while sugar has 1 microgram of folate. Green peas have 65 micrograms of folate per 100 grams. (Google: black eyed peas and folate)

So was it lucky to be left with very little food during the Civil War – no. Was it lucky to be hungry enough to try the legumes that were meant to feed farm animals – no. Was it sensible to cook them and see how they tasted – yes. Sometimes we make our own luck by working hard and accepting what is available as a positive rather than having a negative attitude and giving up. Black- eyed peas do have a slightly stronger flavor than many other beans and peas but sometimes strong flavor is a sign of more nutrients. Trying things because you learn they are good for you may be an unfamiliar habit but if you try something a few times or more the taste can become familiar and may even become something you enjoy.

With young children it is recommended to not force foods to be tried or eaten in large quantities if they are new but to offer a taste or two regularly. It can take thirty tries of a new food for a toddler to become used to the new food as something familiar and enjoyable. If force and negativity is involved however they may instead develop an aversion, a negative feeling about the food. I use the word toddler because that is the best time to accustom children to a wide range of foods. If caregivers give in too regularly to “I don’t like it” attitudes then that habit may become more fixed for the child and trying to change it later may be more difficult. Children also copy what they see adults doing so having a wide variety of healthy foods on the table and sharing a few tastes of what you are having can also be a good way to start toddlers and children with a taste for variety of flavors and foods. (Getting Kids to Try New and Healthy Foods, pbs.org)

If allergies are a problem then that should be taken into account but there are still many nutritious foods that are not regularly used and are not common allergens that could be added to a menu plan. Avoid this list of eight foods that cause up to 90% of allergies and you’ll be avoiding the most common food allergens, (unfortunately some of the ingredients are in practically most commonly used mixed dishes – so that isn’t easy to do):

  • Milk (mostly in children)
  • Eggs.
  • Peanuts.
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans.
  • Soy.
  • Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye, and oats.
  • Fish (mostly in adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly in adults) (this group may include shrimp as well as crab and lobster) (WebMD)

I am avoiding everything on the list except tree nuts so most of the recipes on this website do not use those foods. The almond meal in the recently posted Chocolate Cookie recipe that was included in the post with the Black-eyed Pea Soup recipe (New Year, new recipes) could be substituted with more brown rice flour or buckwheat flour is used in the original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. A discussion of modifying recipes is included with that recipe: (G8. Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Herbs and spices that aren’t too hot with hot pepper or horseradish are also a good way to add flavor and nutrients to simpler foods. A child’s tastebuds don’t need too much hot pepper but a small amount of spicy things may be enjoyed and tolerated well. A child’s tastebuds may be more sensitive than an adult’s so they may prefer simpler things because they simply need less flavor to activate their tastebuds. A child’s sense of smell may also be more acute than an adult’s and aroma adds significantly to the apparent “flavor” of food. The tastebuds don’t notice as much difference as our sense of smell can appreciate and differentiate. (Do children have more sensitive taste buds than adults? Ella, age 7: blastscience.co.uk)

Luck and superstition are two different topics and I believe luck is one part hard work and two parts good attitude, throw in a dash of common sense and who knows what might be possible. And superstition may include some common sense, someone may have had an accident occur when they walked under a ladder and the superstition that it is unlucky may have grown out of the common sense habit to not walk under things when you don’t know what is above – it may have grown out of an ancient instinctual knowledge that predators leap down from hiding places.

I try to do the best I can to be careful and simply clean up salt that is spilled, tossing more over my shoulder seems silly rather than respecting a holiday tradition such as having black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. However in more ancient times when salt was difficult to find and was treated as a rare and expensive commodity it may have been a worse catastrophe – very bad luck – to spill some. Throwing a tiny pinch of what was spilled over shoulder to ward off more bad luck may have occurred at that time. During the Middle Ages there was a saying regarding table placement – to be seated above the salt meant you were important and would get served sooner from the shared dish of salt or other more expensive and sparse entrees. To be seated below the salt meant you were of less noble lineage in medieval times. (wisegeek.com) Salt is an important nutrient and more is needed in situations where it is hot and more sodium is lost in sweat from working or just from the hot environment.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.