Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Guest Blogger : Belly Fat and Your Risk of Chronic Disease

Watch Your WaistDo you have more than an inch to pinch? When you look down, have the tips of your toes disappeared? If so, you might want to measure your belly fat, which can increase your risk for chronic disease.

According to an article by Mayo Clinic staff; it is common for “belly fat,” also known as visceral fat, to appear after menopause due to low levels of estrogen. It is estrogen that influences where we store fat in our body. So let’s measure our risk! Determine your waist circumference by locating the top of your hip bones. Use a measuring tape from this point to pull snug, but not so much to compress your skin. Run the tape around your middle; take your final measurement when you exhale.

Now that we’ve measured our “belly fat,” let’s discuss why it may not “just be a cosmetic concern.” You should know that “belly fat” can increase inflammation and produce hormones that raise blood pressure, negatively change the balance of good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol and promote insulin resistance, a risk factor for developing diabetes.

As a registered dietitian, I encourage people to improve their health through good nutrition and physical activity. Shed those extra pounds to avoid complications associated with “belly fat” and the “bad stuff” it creates. Eat foods that help you feel full, such as whole grains and high fiber foods like peas, dried beans and lentils. To expand your antioxidant arsenal without adding extra calories from fat, enjoy fruit and non-starchy vegetables. Great choices are berries, cherries, apples, carrots, tomatoes and dark green, leafy vegetables!

We all need to consider the effect chronic disease has on our body, but people with a genetic risk for diabetes also need to worry about the damage high blood sugars can cause to the eyes, kidneys and feet. A decrease in “belly fat” may help to reduce these effects.Woman on Exercise Machine

Other concerns for those with diabetes
In addition to a healthy diet, be as physically active as possible. In general most of us should be at least moderately active. Moderate activity is defined as being physically active at least 150 minutes per week. This level of activity could be met by walking 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Talk to your physician about the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D is associated with a 30% to 50% increased risk for breast cancer. Remember, some of our best defense can be found in “super foods” such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cranberries and green tea. You could also add ground flaxseed to your cereal or have a moderate amount (1-2 servings a day) of soy or tofu. Did you know certain brands of mushrooms are a great source for vitamin D?

Please know, current literature is still mixed about the impact of plant estrogens in people with hormonally sensitive cancer of the breast, ovaries or prostate. Speak with your physician about this topic and practice caution with the use of phytoestrogen supplements, soy powders and capsules, as they could be linked to recurrence of cancer. As with all medical nutrition recommendations, individualization is essential. Speak with a registered dietitian today if you have more questions about healthy eating for disease prevention.

Schleder, Missy RD

Melissa S. Schleder
Registered Dietitian, Springfield Clinic Endocrinology
Resources:
http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org ; http://www.mayoclinic.com ;
http://www.aicr.org; http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer ; http://www.uptodate.com


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Cholesterol Month – Part 3

heartexerciseThe final two factors of cholesterol: physical activity and weight.

Physical Activity

  • Daily physical activity helps reduce the risk of heart disease and can also help with weight management. It can help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and additionally boost your good cholesterol levels (HDL). Exercise helps speed up the rate that LDL molecules are sent back to the liver to be turned into bile salts or excreted. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all days. Additional physical activity may be needed for weight loss/weight management. Any exercise is better than no exercise; however, research indicates that exercise performed at higher intensities may be more effective at lowering LDL cholesterol levels and additionally raising the good HDL levels.
  • Find an activity that you love, or even several activities so you can vary up your routine. A combination of strength-training and cardio exercises has shown to be very beneficial for reducing risk factors for heart disease (weight loss, lowering blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels).
  • Exercise alone cannot guarantee one will not have high cholesterol. Diet and genetics also play very strong roles in determining one’s cholesterol levels. However, additional benefits observed from being physically active include bone strength, mood improvement, stress management and can decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer and stroke.  heartplate

Weight

  • Being overweight/obese is an additional risk factor for heart disease. Weight gain also tends to increase cholesterol levels. Losing weight can help decrease LDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol levels and help increase HDL levels.
  • Losing just 5-10% of body weight can show improvements in cholesterol levels. Consuming 500 less calories every day can help you lose 1 pound per week. You can even combine this with exercise by consuming 250 less calories every day additionally to burning 250 calories from exercise. Easy ways to cut down on calories include:
    • Eliminating soda, sweet tea, juice or other sugary-sweetened beverages.
    • Using one slice of bread instead of two.
    • Limiting cheese consumption.
    • Avoid snacking while at the computer/watching TV.
    • Swap your potato chips or pretzels for carrots, bell pepper slices and celery sticks.
    • Choosing a side salad instead of a side of pasta or potatoes.

Sometimes, diet and lifestyle are not enough to lower your cholesterol levels to a safe range. Your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication. Always take these medications as prescribed. Additionally, consult with appleheartfruityour physician if you are considering taking an herbal supplement to decrease your cholesterol levels. In many cases, the safety of these supplements has not been proven since their dosage amounts are unregulated.

Click here to see parts 1 & 2 of this blog series.


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Apples to Apples

Apples are one of the most iconic fruits of the fall season. Fall marks back to school themed apple decor and the fun tradition of bobbing for apples. Apples serve as a symbol for healthy eating. Many families use apples in theirapples everyday diet from a snack to an apple pie.  In fact, most are familiar with the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But is there any truth behind this old proverb? This happens to be one saying worth repeating.

  • Apples under the microscope:
    • Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples has been studied for its possible protective benefits against prostate cancer.
    • Researchers at Cornell University showed that nutrients found in the skin of apples inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43%.
    • The National Cancer Institute released a statement saying that the flavonoids, like the ones found in apples, may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50%.
    • Other studies have shown that apples can also help reduce the risk of asthma and possibly type 2 diabetes.
    • Apples contain pectin, which is a valuable source of soluble fiber (1.0 gram per medium-sized apple). Soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels and possibly help control blood sugars. The average apple contains 3-5 grams of total fiber, which can help support digestive health.
  • Choosing your perfect apple:
    • Apples come in many varieties. They can be sweet, tart, crisp, soft, red, yellow, green; the combinations are endless! I personally love a sweet, crisp apple so I tend to stick with Gala, Fuji or the Honeycrisp varieties. Picking the perfect apple can depend on your usage of the apple. Different varieties are recommended if you’re simply snacking or using apples for cooking/baking purposes. Below is a list of apples, their profiles and recommended uses. appleVarietiesChart

    Eating an apple a day can definitely be part of a healthy diet. The phytochemicals and antioxidants found in apples help our bodies defend itself from oxidative stress. However, processed apple products, such as juice, typically do not retain these nutritious properties. When choosing an applesauce, opt for the no-sugar added variety. You can naturally sweeten it with cinnamon, if needed. For a balanced snack, combine an apple with 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter or a low-fat cheese stick. Apple chunks can be added to salads, cereal and make creative slaws and salsas! Apples are so versatile; everyone can enjoy the fruit of the season!

 

 


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Cancer Nutrition Series: Calorie and Protein Intake During Treatment

Cancer and its treatment can lead to a variety of side effects and discomforts. But, through proper nutrition, these effects can be alleviated. Amanda Figge, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian with Springfield Clinic, discusses the ways to maintain the proper caloric and protein consumption while undergoing cancer treatment.

For more information go to: www.SpringfieldClinic.com/Nutrition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA0hQHOy_fI&feature=share&list=PLulrbdIofujuMdvOeLh3VuUfhU7mPUjCK


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Cancer Nutrition Series: Food Safety for Neutropenia – Springfield Clinic

Cancer and its treatment can lead to a variety of side effects and discomforts. But, through proper nutrition, these effects can be alleviated. Amanda Figge, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian with Springfield Clinic, discusses the ways to eat properly while dealing with cancer.

In this video, Amanda discusses eating with food safety for patients on a neutropenia-safe diet during cancer treatment. Food Safety for Neutropenia

www.SpringfieldClinic.com/Nutrition

 


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Cancer Nutrition Series: Dealing with Mucositis (Sore Mouth)

Cancer and its treatment can lead to a variety of side effects and discomforts. But, through proper nutrition, these effects can be alleviated. Amanda Figge, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian with Springfield Clinic, discusses the ways to eat properly while dealing with cancer.

In this video, Amanda discusses eating with mucositis, or mouth sores resulting from cancer treatment.

http://youtu.be/a5p-B44R8CA

www.SpringfieldClinic.com/Nutrition


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Saving Your Skin: Skin Cancer Prevention

As a granddaughter of a farmer, I have been encouraged my entire life to wear sunscreen and hats when out in the sun. I remember asking my mom what those spots were on Grandpa’s head and ears and she replied that he didn’t protect himself from the sun like he should have. Later, I learned that Grandpa had multiple pre-cancerous spots removed from his head, nose and ears—all related to increased sun exposure. Unfortunately, I did not always follow this skin care advice while growing up. I didn’t always apply sunscreen while playing summer softball, I never wore hats while out in the sun and I even used tanning beds.what-are-the-dangers-of-indoor-tanning-banner

Now that I’m a little older and a little wiser, I take every measure to protect my skin from the sun’s harmful rays. I know that I am at an increased risk for developing skin cancer due to my family history, fair skin tone and green eyes. (Find out more about risk factors.) In addition to applying SPF 50 and wearing big floppy hats when out in the sun, there are also dietary measures that can be taken to help decrease the risk of developing skin cancer.

  • Lemon peel and hot black tea. Lemons contain a compound limonene that is found in the peel. Research suggests that adding grated lemon peel to hot black tea can help reduce the risk of skin cancer. Just one tablespoon of grated peel per week is enough to gain these benefits.
  • If there isn’t another reason to consume this vegetable, broccoli has also been shown to have protective antioxidants reducing the risk for skin cancer.
  • Pineapples contain manganese, a nutrient you do not commonly think of, but is important for healthy skin, bone and cartilage formation. Research is currently investigating the effects of bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, and its effects on skin cancer prevention.
  • Resveratol, found in red wine, can help prevent harmful elements from attaching to healthy cells in our bodies.
  • Looking for a good herb to flavor a meal? Rosemary would be a good choice. Animal studies have shown that rosemary can potentially help inhibit cancer growth in the breasts, colon and skin.

There is no one single food or supplement that can prevent skin cancer. However, eating a diet plentiful in antioxidants can help decrease one’s risk of developing certain cancers. Below, Cassandra Claman, MD, dermatologist with Springfield Clinic, offers an important message on the prevention and early detection of skin cancer.

Every week, Springfield Clinic’s Dermatology Department sees dozens of patients of all ages with skin cancer. The incidence of skin cancer is on the rise, and the reasons are manifold. Tanning beds, sunbathing, outdoor leisure activities and myriad other factors all contribute to the rise, but one reason is this: as more people become aware of the dangers of skin cancer, more people get life-saving skin checks.

We are lucky in the dermatology field; we can see the entire at-risk organ. It is a shame to miss a skin cancer, or to not catch one early. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Use this as an excuse to call your dermatologist for a full skin exam. It could save your life!

Here are some great resources about skin cancer:


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Let’s Get the Flax Facts!

When hearing the word omega-3 fatty acids, most people think of salmon, or maybe walnuts. Today, I wanted to introduce you to another heart-healthy food that contains omega-3 fatty acids—flaxseed. I know what you’re thinking: what is flaxseed, and how do I eat it?

Flaxseed is one of many nutritional powerhouse foods, meaning it is full of healthy nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants, protein and omega-3 fatty acids (specifically alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). ALA is a polyunsaturated fat that is needed in our diets. Replacing bad fats (saturated and trans-fats) with the good fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats) can help lower the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol. Flax is a source of lignans which are antioxidants that may reduce the activity of cell-damaging free radicals. One tablespoon of milled flax contains about 3 grams of fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Fiber from flax can help one feel fuller longer, help reduce cholesterol and improve colon and digestive health. Flax is also a great source of nutrients for vegetarians and a great way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids for people with fish allergies.

You can find flaxseed at your local grocery store. I have found it in the cereal aisle, next to the oatmeal or in the gluten-free section. Remember to refrigerate the flaxseed once opened.  Aim for an intake of 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed per day. The best way to buy it is “milled”. We cannot absorb all the healthy nutrients flax has to offer unless it’s in the ground/milled form. You can grind whole flax seeds on your own using a coffee grinder, food processor or blender.

Here are some ideas for adding flax into your diet. Consuming it with other foods adds a light nutty flavor to your dishes:

  • Mix flax in with your yogurt
  • Add it to breakfast cereal or oatmeal
  • Mix in with fruit smoothies
  • Sprinkle into soups/stews/sauces

Try these other flax-friendly recipes!

For kids:

  • Add to applesauce
  • Sprinkle a thin layer between peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Add to beans/chili after cooking
  • Mix in with mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower) after cooking

How do you add flax into your diet?

For more ideas, recipes and information about flax please visit: www.healthyflax.com.

Eat right, move more and live life to the flax!

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