From the Desk of The Nutty Nutritionist

Archive for the ‘Fighting Cancer’ Category

Roasted Vegetable Bean Salad

In Autoimmune disease, Fighting Cancer, Gluten-Free diet, Meal Ideas, Recipes, Vegetarian on October 4, 2013 at 9:44 AM

roast veg bean salad 1 cropJust because fresh, summer vegetable season is drawing to a close does not mean you have to stop eating them!  Vegetables of all shapes, sizes and colors provide an abundance of nutrition, are naturally low-calorie, loaded with antioxidants for fighting disease and inflammation, and fill a hungry tummy for an extended period of time (thank you, fiber!).  Whether you are watching your waistline, trying to prevent cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, or managing inflammatory autoimmune conditions, such as scleroderma, lupus and multiple sclerosis, this salad is a healthy addition to your eating plan.  It is compatible with vegan and gluten-free lifestyles as well.  Some of the ingredients are available fresh all year round whereas others will be found in your grocer’s freezer during the off season (which are equally nutritious and healthful).  This tasty and refreshing salad makes an excellent pack-n-go lunch choice or a light meal to share among friends.  The recipe as outlined below makes three generous servings containing 260 calories, 20 grams of carb, 16 grams fat (only 2 grams saturated…nice!), 8 grams fiber and 8 grams of protein.   Enjoy!

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup of peeled fresh or frozen edamame (green soybeans); steam frozen in microwave 4-5 minutes

1 cup fresh or frozen corn, steamed in microwave 3-5 minutes (cut fresh off cob)

2 cups fresh or frozen thin green beans, washed and cut into pieces (blanch fresh beans in boiling water for 90 seconds; steam frozen beans in microwave 3-4 minutes)

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

1 orange and 1 yellow bell pepper sliced into 1-inch pieces  (organic is best)

10-15 large fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons (this will serve as primary leafy green)

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Preparation Instructions:

1.  Prep edamame, corn and green beans as described above.

2.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine sliced peppers and tomatoes in small amount of olive oil and spread in single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment or foil coated with cooking spray.  Roast for 15 minutes (until blistered), remove vegetables from oven and roasting pan, and place on new foil for 10 minutes to cool.

3.  Combine all cooled vegetables into large mixing bowl:  corn, edamame, green beans, roasted peppers, tomatoes and basil ribbons.

4.  Whisk together dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl and toss with vegetables.

5.  Chill at least 2 hours before serving to allow for flavor enhancement.

6.  Serve with warm bread, as desired.

Would you like more healthy recipe suggestions?  Interested in learning realistic strategies for creating a balanced lifestyle to meet your individual health needs?  Consider ordering the second edition of my book,  “You Gotta Eat!” at  Eat well!  Feel well!


Why You Should Drink More Tea

In Fighting Cancer, Wellness on April 11, 2013 at 8:25 AM

There is nothing quite like a comforting, warm beverage on a cool. rainy, spring day to warm you from the inside out.  As I write this, I have a cup of red rooibos tea beside me.  Mmmm… Have you ever tried this antioxidant rich, caffeine-free, African herbal tea?  Yes, I still drink coffee first thing in the morning, but tea carries me throughout the rest of the day without the negative effects of caffeine, such as heart palpitations and sleep disturbances.   I also find red rooibos tea particularly delightful in the evening to help me relax and get ready for a peaceful night’s rest.   We all need a little more of that now, don’t we?   While coffee is consistently America’s favorite hot beverage of choice, there are plenty of reasons why you should add hot tea to your daily routine.  There is much scientific evidence showing a strong association with tea drinking and lower risk of chronic disease as well as combating the negative effects of aging.  Teas contain a plethora of antioxidant compounds such as anthocyanins, flavonoids and phenolic acids, which have been found to help fight inflammation and reduce cell damage.  Since many of us do not eat the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, drinking tea will help us get the antioxidants we need to stay healthy.

Most non-herbal tea comes from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant:  black tea, green tea, oolong tea, and white tea.  These various types are processed differently, which imparts unique tastes and intensities.  These leaves naturally contain caffeine and must undergo processing to become decaffeinated.  If you prefer naturally caffeine-free herbal teas,  choose formulations containing hibiscus, as this fruit of a flowering plant provides a fruity, tart taste and is rich in antioxidants as well.  (The red rooibos tea I am drinking right now has hibiscus in it too…)

Based on the scientific evidence, here are 10 compelling reasons to drink more tea:

1.  Minimize your risk of heart disease, to include heart attack and stroke

2.  Reduce blood pressure

3.  Improve memory and mental alertness

4.  Reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol

5.  Prevent various forms of cancer, specifically the stomach, esophagus, and colon

6.  Improve digestion  (flavonoids may encourage healthy bacteria)

7.  Prevent osteoporosis  (especially green tea)

8.  Modest weight loss (green tea flavonoids plus caffeine may increase calorie expenditure)

9.  Minimize your risk of type 2 diabetes

10.  Promotes relaxation (herbal and caffeine-free varieties)

To get the most antioxidant punch from tea, steep in hot water rather than brewing cold.  You may then pour the hot tea over ice or chill in the fridge to enjoy iced tea during the upcoming summer months.

Here’s to your health!  Happy Spring 😉

Power Up, Peeps!

In Autoimmune disease, Diabetes, Fighting Cancer, Managing cholesterol, Wellness on October 23, 2011 at 10:47 PM
As a dietitian who specializes in chronic disease management, I spend the majority of my time helping people prevent or manage conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune disorders (scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc).  Of course, the dietary suggestions I make for each client are based on his or her individual health needs and taste preferences.  However, there are specific fruits, vegetables, and herbs that I consider “power” foods and encourage everyone to eat them on a regular basis, regardless of health status.  My judgments are based on a food’s ability to lower blood sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure; provide antioxidants for heart disease and cancer prevention; and/or as act as anti-inflammatory agents, important for taming autoimmune disease, and preventing heart disease and diabetes.  I will share my so-called “power foods” and suggested serving sizes with you now.  It will be impossible for the average person to include all 15 of these foods on a daily basis, but aiming for 3-5 times per week for each will certainly “power up” your nutritional status and help you thwart disease.
1.  Sweet potato/Yam:  easier on blood sugar than a white potato and helps lower cholesterol due to its high soluble fiber content; great source of carotenoids and other antioxidants for eye health, heart health, and cancer prevention; anti-inflammatory properties for those with autoimmune conditions.  Serving size: 1 cup.  
2. Dark green leafy vegetables: such as spinach, kale, arugula, collards, mustard greens.  Contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for heart health, autoimmunity, and cancer prevention; excellent source of potassium to help lower blood pressure.  Serving size:  the more, the better.  Caveat:  be careful if on blood thinning medication, as these are high in vitamin K.
3.  Cooked tomato products:  such as tomato/vegetable juice, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, pizza sauce.  Contain potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for heart health, cancer prevention, and autoimmune modulation; excellent source of lycopene for men’s prostate health; rich in potassium for lowering blood pressure (especially if no salt added during processing).  Serving size:  1/2-1 cup.
4.  Broccoli:  exceptional source of cancer-fighting compounds; anti-inflammatory benefits good for heart and autoimmune conditions.  Easy on blood sugar.  Serving size:  1 cup.  Substitute: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Bok choy, or other cruciferous vegetables.
5.  Starchy beans:  such as kidney beans, black beans, red beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, etc.  Excellent source of soluble fiber which is easier on blood sugar and helps lower LDL cholesterol; many varieties are rich in potassium for lowering blood pressure.   Antioxidant properties.  Serving size:  1/3 cup.  
Power fruits:
1.  Avocado:  YES!  IT’S A FRUIT!  Rich in monounsaturated fat, known to fight inflammation and raise healthy HDL cholesterol.   Serving size:  1/8-1/4 medium size.  Caveat:  high in calories, so don’t consume a whole avocado every day or your body will take on the shape of an avocado…
2.  Cherries:  potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, great for heart health, joint pain, and autoimmune conditons;  2 tbsp cherry juice daily can ease arthritis pain.  Serving:  12-20 fresh cherries or 1/4 cup dried cherries (2 Tbsp. dried with diabetes).  Caveat:  can raise blood sugar if you have diabetes, so watch portion size.
3.  Blueberries:  highest antioxidant/anti-inflammatory power for cancer prevention, heart disease, brain health, and autoimmunity.  Serving:  3/4 cup  fresh/frozen or 1/4 dried blueberries (2 Tbsp dried with diabetes).
4.  Apples: excellent source of soluble fiber for lowering LDL cholesterol; potent antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties for heart health, cancer prevention, and easing autoimmune flare-ups.  Serving size:  “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but you knew that already, right?  Caveat:  organic is best, as conventionally grown apples have high pesticide residues.
5.  Kiwi:  excellent source of vitamin C, particularly important during “cold and flu season”; rich in potassium for lowering blood pressure; contains papain, a natural enzyme that can aid protein digestion for those with digestive disorders; high fiber makes it easier on blood sugar and speeds intestinal transit for optimal colon health and for those with autoimmune-related intestinal motility issues.  Serving:  1-2 medium kiwis.   
Power herbs/spices:
1.  Cinnamon:  potent anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory properties for cancer and autoimmune conditions; helps lower blood sugar.  Serving:  1/4-1/2 tsp. daily, added to coffee, tea, oatmeal, yogurt, etc.
2.  Basil:  potent antioxidant/anti-inflammatory for heart health, cancer prevention, autoimmunity.  Serving:  add liberally to salads, sauces, meats, side dishes.  Fresh or dried.  Acceptable substitute:  oregano or rosemary.
3.  Tumeric (curcumin):  loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammation properties  for heart, cancer, autoimmunity;  Serving:  1/8-1/4 tsp  Substitute:  cumin, curry
4.  Fresh Garlic:  cooked lightly to release antioxidant/anti-inflammatory components, excellent for fighting inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and cancer prevention.  Serving:  1-2 cloves.  Caveat:  may need to hand out nose plugs…
5.  Paprika:  potent antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties, for the same reasons as other herbs listed above.  Excellent topper for chicken and fish.  Serving: 1/8-1/4 tsp.  
As I have said time and again, it is always best to eat real, wholesome foods rather than to rely on pills and supplements to give your body what it needs to look and feel well.  Taking so-called fruit or vegetable pills or powders will not provide the same benefits.  Add these powerful foods to your shopping list this week and be on your way to feeling your best!

Confronting Prostate Cancer

In Fighting Cancer on February 8, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Prostate cancer diagnoses are running rampant right now, in men both young and old.  Most recently, I have learned of three girlfriends whose husbands have been diagnosed–one in his early 60’s, two in their 40’s.   In the past five years, my great uncle, father, uncle, and father-in-law have all faced and conquered this raging beast, either through radiation, surgery, or a combination of both.   Unfortunately, not everyone in my life has had such a favorable outcome.   During this same time period, a good friend of mine lost her husband to a very aggressive form of the disease.  Sometimes there is absolutely nothing one can do to prevent cancer or it’s recurrence.   

Case in point, my father has always lived an admirably healthy lifestyle—eating a variety of nutritious foods, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting plenty of rest.  One would think he would be the last person on earth to develop cancer.  He felt the same way—the diagnosis shocked him and everyone who knows him.    Prostate cancer is likely in his genes–his father did not live long enough to develop it, but his younger brother was diagnosed within 2 years of my father.  This means my brother and male cousin (who are both in their 40’s) had better start getting regular prostate exams.  You hear that, boys????  It is always best to catch it early, especially with a genetic susceptibility.  I admire the way my father faced his diagnosis with courage and confidence.  He has now been cancer free for five years, and is determined to keep it that way. 🙂   In an attempt to support his efforts, I “prescribed” a daily regimen of 4 0z. pure pomegranate juice and 1000 IU vitamin D for him.  I made these recommendations based on well-designed research studies that have shown these supplements to be effective allies in the prevention of prostate cancer recurrence….at the present time anyway.  I will be keeping my eyes and ears open as new revelations appear within the scientific literature over time, and will adjust my recommendations for my father and clients accordingly.   Taking these supplements allows my father to feel more proactive and positive about combatting the disease.  Mind over matter, right???  Even if it is just the “placebo effect”, it is doing him a world of good emotionally. 

In light of the frequency in which my friends and family have been afflicted with this disease, I am going to review some of the supplements that have been touted for their effectiveness in prostate cancer prevention and/or recurrence.   I am going to be stating my professional opinion here, and by no means am I suggesting you (or your husband, brother, father, male friends, etc) take any or all of these supplements or foods that I mention.  I simply want to give you a chance to explore what is out there and then you can decide what you want to do.

Lycopene:  data suggest that 10 servings of cooked tomato products, such as 1/2 cup tomato sauce or tomato/vegetable juice, per week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.  It is most effective to get lycopene from food rather than pills.

Vitamin D:  as noted in an earlier blog posting, this vitamin deserves the “vitamin of the year” award for 2010.  Not only can this nutrient help keep bones strong, but it can potentially help thwart a variety of chronic illnesses, including prostate cancer.  The upper tolerable limit per day is 2000 IU, so taking 1000 IU via a separate supplement is good insurance in case the hypothesis is right…it is hard to get enough Vitamin D from food, so here is when a pill makes sense.

Selenium:  there is some significant evidence out there that selenium may reduce prostate cancer risk, especially in men who are selenium-deficient, but more research definitely needs to be conducted before I can comfortably make any recommendations regarding selenium supplementation.  Brazil nuts contain more selenium than any other food source.  So, to help overcome any selenium deficiency, my advice is to eat ONE Brazil nut per day.  The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 400 ug/day.  An ounce of Brazil nuts can contain as much as 550 ug.  So, I suggest one nut a day to give you a good dose of selenium, WITHOUT any risk of toxicity.

Pomegranate juice: drinking 3-4 oz. of pure pomegranate juice every day can be a great way to get an antioxidant boost.  This particular juice has shown favorable results in regards to minimizing PSA levels and tumor growth.  Even if this hypothesis is “phooey”, it will not hurt you.  Just be mindful of the extra calories.

Soy protein:  most soy products (tofu, soy milk, edamame, soybeans, soy nuts, soy yogurt) contain isoflavones (such as genistein), which are naturally occurring “phytoestrogens” that may help reduce the risk of different types of cancer.  There are many studies currently underway testing the effects of soy on the development of prostate cancer, but at this point, the jury is still out.  Soy protein is a healthy, low-fat alternative to higher fat animal sources, and is certainly a worthwhile addition to any diet.  Because of the high concentration of isoflavones, do not take soy protein supplements in pill or powder form until more is known about the effect on cancer risk. 

Saw Palmetto: the berries of the saw palmetto plant contain fatty acids and sterols which are believed to exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.  Taking this supplement, as many men seem to do nowadays, may or may not be helpful in improving symptoms of an enlarged prostate, such as diminished urine flow.  There is also preliminary evidence that saw palmetto may inhibit prostate cancer cell growth.   Taking this supplement may cause some stomach upset, and may interfere with blood clotting medications (such as coumadin/warfarin) and hormone drug therapies.  The safety of long-term supplementation is unknown at this time.  I’m not convinced of this supplement’s effectiveness, so it may very well be a waste of money to take it.

Milk Thistle:  this extract is commonly referred to as a “liver detoxifier”, and has been used in Germany for the treatment of liver disease since 1986.  The active components (plant flavonoids) in milk thistle, known collectively as silymarin, have been shown to displace toxins from the liver, allowing liver cells to regenerate.  More recently, these flavonoids have been found to induce cancer cell death, prevent cancer cells from forming a blood supply, and reduce PSA levels.  More extensive research needs to be done in this area, but for now, standardized milk thistle extracts seem to be safe with minimal occurrence of side effects.  To ensure effectiveness, the supplement should contain no less than 70-80% silymarin.  If you are interested in taking this supplement, consult with your doctor.

The only recommendations I make for my male patients to prevent recurrence of prostate cancer is taking 1000 IU Vitamin D, 4 oz. pomegranate juice, and a diet rich in tomato products.  I also advise them not to take more than 1000 mg calcium (if they take supplements), as high calcium intakes have been linked to the development of prostate cancer.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) is also advisable.  

It is easier to make appropriate recommendations AFTER a person has already developed cancer than it is in trying to prevent cancer in the first place.  We never know when, where, or if cancer is gonna strike, and taking a plethora of supplements is not necessarily the way to get around it.  My advice is to use your best judgment in deciding what foods to eat, supplements to take, and lifestyle choices to make.  As evidenced by my father’s diagnosis, cancer can strike despite our best efforts to avoid it.  Hopefully I have provided you with some insight and a hope that some of the outcome is in your control.  If you or a loved one is facing prostate cancer, and decide to take supplements, ALWAYS discuss them with your doctor to make sure they are appropriate for you, especially if cancer treatment is underway.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask.   God Bless.

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