Tag Archives: diet

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Looking for the Fountain of Youth? Here It Is!

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Looking for the Fountain of Youth? Here It Is!

Source: about health

Original post: November 06, 2015

Looking for the Fountain of Youth? Here It Is!Science tells us that what we call “aging” occurs with age, but not simply because of age. 

The stiffening of the blood vessels and the decline of brain function associated with getting older are affected by what we eat and how much we exercise. If we follow the lifestyle habits associated with slower cardiovascular and brain aging, can we extend lifespan and healthspan? Advances in nutritional science have taught us that eating the right foods enables weight loss and helps to prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes.


Consider  what happened to a patient of mine named Paul when he made radical changes to the way he eats.

When he was 60 years old, he could not walk a city block without feeling pressure in his chest. Yet, as a gift to himself for his 68th birthday, he celebrated with a brisk run up and down the rolling hills of Central Park in New York City.

What enabled him to achieve such a feat?  As I like to say, the road to good health is as close as the end of your fork.


Paul decided to change his eating habits. 

He began eating primarily nutrient-rich, whole foods:  greens and other colorful vegetables, beans, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. He minimized meat, eggs and dairy and eliminated added sugars, oils, white flour, white rice and processed foods.  In doing so, he reduced the number of calories he consumed while simultaneously increasing the amount of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) and fiber he ingests. I coined the word Nutritarian to describe this longevity-promoting style of eating, that is nutrient-dense and plant rich..

Paul usually ate a huge salad with raw onions and shredded cruciferous vegetables for lunch with a great tasting  nut-based dressing. He also ate beans or lentils in a vegetable-based soup or stew each day. He included three fruits each day, making especially sure to eat berries, pomegranate, cherries, plums and oranges.

He ate raw nuts and seeds to a meal, with a special emphasis on walnuts, hemp, flax and chia seeds, all of which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. And he also made sure to eat a double-size serving of steamed greens at dinner, often adding  mushrooms and onions.


In other words, Paul did what I recommend all my patients do: He  designed his diet to provide  superior nutrient density. 

Though eating  nutrient-rich food is critically important, it is not the only factor that determines good health. For example, Vitamin D , vitamin B12, and proper omega-3 intake are important for optimal health, as well as  limiting sodium and high glycemic carbohydrates.


You may be surprised by how your body can heal itself by simply eating right and getting exercise. 

You may also be amazed that your taste improves as you start to eat healthier, that you actually get more pleasure from eating and you can eat generous portions of great tasting healthy dishes.  Some people would say that they could never give up the processed food they crave. But you need to know that rejecting these foods is a mere temporary loss. What you gain is what Paul found: his highest level of energy and good health he ever had. If he was searching for the Fountain of Youth, he certainly found it. As he told people who asked him how he felt on his 68th birthday, “I honestly feel – no joking, no exaggeration – that I am only at the halfway point of my life.”  The facts are the same dietary portfolio that protects your heart also protects your brain from aging and prevents cancer.


We now know a lot about the factors associated with longevity. 

We know about the diets of societies with a documented long lifespan, such as the Okinawans of Japan and the Seventh-Day Adventists of California. We have evidence that accumulated oxidative stress drives aging, and we know which dietary factors help the body to mitigate oxidative stress. We can now measure the telomere length of circulating white blood cells – telomere shortening is an indicator of aging – and we are learning which dietary factors and behaviors influence telomere length. Studies of calorie restriction in animals have given us information about the cellular signaling pathways associated with longevity, and we can turn on those same genes and signaling pathways with our dietary and lifestyle habits.


This wealth of scientific information has allowed us to design dietary patterns for longevity. 

Go for it!


1. Weiss EP, Fontana L. Caloric restriction: powerful protection for the aging heart and vasculature. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2011, 301:H1205-1219.

2.  Joseph J, Cole G, Head E, Ingram D. Nutrition, brain aging, and neurodegeneration. J Neurosci 2009, 29:12795-12801.

3.  Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, Willis LM. Grape juice, berries, and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. J Nutr 2009, 139:1813S-1817S.

4.  Santos-Parker JR, LaRocca TJ, Seals DR. Aerobic exercise and other healthy lifestyle factors that influence vascular aging. Adv Physiol Educ 2014, 38:296-307.

5.  Fraser GE, Shavlik DJ. Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice? Arch Intern Med 2001, 161:1645-1652.

6.  Willcox DC, Willcox BJ, Todoriki H, Suzuki M. The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load. J Am Coll Nutr 2009, 28 Suppl:500S-516S.

7. Beckman KB, Ames BN. The free radical theory of aging matures. Physiol Rev 1998, 78:547-581.

8.  Shammas MA. Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2011, 14:28-34.

9.  Fontana L. The scientific basis of caloric restriction leading to longer life. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 2009, 25:144-150.

10. Hu F, Liu F. Targeting tissue-specific metabolic signaling pathways in aging: the promise and limitations. Protein Cell 2014, 5:21-35.

11. Verburgh K. Nutrigerontology: why we need a new scientific discipline to develop diets and guidelines to reduce the risk of aging-related diseases. Aging Cell 2015, 14:17-24.

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Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain On Food

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Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain On Food

Source: Nutritional Psychiatry

POSTED NOVEMBER 16, 2015, 9:00 AM
Eva Selhub MD, Contributing Editor

Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain On Food

Think about it. Your brain is always “on.” It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat, your senses — it works hard 24/7, even while you’re asleep. This means your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That “fuel” comes from the foods you eat — and what’s in that fuel makes all the difference. Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.

Unfortunately, just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low-premium” fuel (such as what you get from processed or refined foods) get to the brain, it has little ability to get rid of them. Diets high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to the brain. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.

It makes sense. If your brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, or if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain’s enclosed space, further contributing to brain tissue injury, consequences are to be expected. What’s interesting is that for many years, the medical field did not fully acknowledge the connection between mood and food.

Today, fortunately, the burgeoning field of nutritional psychiatry is finding there are many consequences and correlations between not only what you eat, how you feel, and how you ultimately behave, but also the kinds of bacteria that live in your gut.

How The Foods You Eat Affect How You Feel

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions. What’s more, the function of these neurons — and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin — is highly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up your intestinal microbiome. These bacteria play an essential role in your health. They protect the lining of your intestines and ensure they provide a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria; they limit inflammation; they improve how well you absorb nutrients from your food; and they activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain.

Studies have shown that when people take probiotics (supplements containing the good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics. Other studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the “Western” dietary pattern. In addition, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented, and therefore act as natural probiotics. Fermentation uses bacteria and yeast to convert sugar in food to carbon dioxide, alcohol, and lactic acid. It is used to protect food from spoiling and can add a pleasant taste and texture.

This may sound implausible to you, but the notion that good bacteria not only influence what your gut digests and absorbs, but that they also affect the degree of inflammation throughout your body, as well as your mood and energy level, is gaining traction among researchers. The results so far have been quite amazing.

What Does This Mean For You?

Start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel — not just in the moment, but the next day. Try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. Add fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha. You also might want to try going dairy-free — and some people even feel that they feel better when their diets are grain-free. See how you feel. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.

When my patients “go clean,” they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally, and how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce the foods that are known to enhance inflammation. Give it a try!

For more information on this topic, please see: Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry, Sarris J, et al. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015

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Dietary Supplements

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Very informative post about Dietary Supplements

Source: Dietary Supplements

Dietary SupplementsBill’s retired and lives alone. Often he’s just not hungry or is too tired to fix a whole meal. Does he need a multivitamin, or should he take one of those dietary supplements he sees in ads everywhere? Bill wonders if they work—will one help keep his joints healthy or another give him more energy? And, are they safe?


What Is a Dietary Supplement?

Dietary supplements are substances you might use to add nutrients to your diet or to lower your risk of health problems, like osteoporosis or arthritis. Dietary supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel tabs, extracts, or liquids. They might contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs or other plants, or enzymes. Sometimes, the ingredients in dietary supplements are added to foods, including drinks. A doctor’s prescription is not needed to buy dietary supplements.


Should I Take a Dietary Supplement?

Do you need one? Maybe you do, but usually not. Ask yourself why you think you might want to take a dietary supplement. Are you concerned about getting enough nutrients? Is a friend, a neighbor, or someone on a commercial suggesting you take one? Some ads for dietary supplements in magazines or on TV seem to promise that these supplements will make you feel better, keep you from getting sick, or even help you live longer. Sometimes, there is little, if any, good scientific research supporting these claims. Dietary supplements may give you nutrients that might be missing from your daily diet. But eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need. Supplements may cost a lot, could be harmful, or simply might not be helpful. Some supplements can change how medicines you may already be taking will work. You should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian for advice.


What If I’m Over 50?

People over 50 may need more of some vitamins and minerals than younger adults do. Your doctor or a dietitian can tell you whether you need to change your diet or take vitamins or minerals to get enough of these:

  • Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 helps keep your red blood cells and nerves healthy. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in fish, shellfish, meat, and dairy products. As people grow older, some have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 naturally found in food. They can choose foods, like fortified cereals, that have this vitamin added or use a B12 supplement.
  • Calcium. Calcium works with vitamin D to keep bones strong at all ages. Bone loss can lead to fractures in both older women and men. Calcium is found in milk and milk products (fat-free or low-fat is best), canned fish with soft bones, dark-green leafy vegetables like kale, and foods with calcium added like breakfast cereals.
  • Vitamin D. Some people’s bodies make enough vitamin D if they are in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes at least twice a week. But, if you are older, you may not be able to get enough vitamin D that way. Try adding vitamin D-fortified milk and milk products, vitamin D-fortified cereals, and fatty fish to your diet, and/or use a vitamin D supplement.
  • Vitamin B6. This vitamin is needed to form red blood cells. It is found in potatoes, bananas, chicken breasts, and fortified cereals.


Different Vitamin and Mineral Recommendations for People Over 50 (2010)

The National Academy of Sciences recommends how much of each vitamin and mineral men and women of different ages need. Sometimes, the Academy also tells us how much of a vitamin or mineral is too much.

Vitamin B12—2.4 mcg (micrograms) each day (if you are taking medicine for acid reflux, you might need a different form, which your healthcare provider can give you)

Calcium—Women over 50 need 1,200 mg (milligrams) each day, and men need 1,000 mg between age 51 and 70 and 1,200 mg after 70, but not more than 2,000 mg a day.

Vitamin D—600 IU (International Units) for people age 51 to 70 and 800 IU for those over 70, but not more than 4,000 IU each day

Vitamin B6—1.7 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women each day

When thinking about whether you need more of a vitamin or mineral, think about how much of each nutrient you get from food and drinks, as well as from any supplements you take. Check with a doctor or dietitian to learn whether you need to supplement your diet.

What Are Antioxidants?

You might hear about antioxidants in the news. These are natural substances found in food that might help protect you from some diseases. Here are some common sources of antioxidants that you should be sure to include in your diet:

  • beta-carotene—fruits and vegetables that are either dark green or dark orange
  • selenium—seafood, liver, meat, and grains
  • vitamin C—citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, and berries
  • vitamin E—wheat germ, nuts, sesame seeds, and canola, olive, and peanut oils

Right now, research results suggest that large doses of supplements with antioxidants will not prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. In fact, some studies have shown that taking large doses of some antioxidants could be harmful. Again, it is best to check with your doctor before taking a dietary supplement.


What About Herbal Supplements?

Herbal supplements are dietary supplements that come from plants. A few that you may have heard of are gingko biloba, ginseng, echinacea, and black cohosh. Researchers are looking at using herbal supplements to prevent or treat some health problems. It’s too soon to know if herbal supplements are both safe and useful. But, studies of some have not shown benefits.


Are Dietary Supplements Safe?

Scientists are still working to answer this question. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) checks prescription medicines, such as antibiotics or blood pressure medicines, to make sure they are safe and do what they promise. The same is true for over-the-counter drugs like pain and cold medicines.

But the FDA does not consider dietary supplements to be medicines. The FDA does not watch over dietary supplements in the same way it does prescription medicines. The Federal Government does not regularly test what is in dietary supplements. So, just because you see a dietary supplement on a store shelf does not mean it is safe, that it does what the label says it will, or that it contains what the label says it contains.

If the FDA receives reports of possible problems with a supplement, it will issue warnings about products that are clearly unsafe. The FDA may also take these supplements off the market. The Federal Trade Commission looks into reports of ads that might misrepresent what dietary supplements do.

A few private groups, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, ConsumerLab.com, and the Natural Products Association (NPA), have their own “seals of approval” for dietary supplements. To get such a seal, products must be made by following good manufacturing procedures, must contain what is listed on the label, and must not have harmful levels of things that don’t belong there, like lead.


What’s Best for Me?

If you are thinking about using dietary supplements:

  • Learn. Find out as much as you can about any dietary supplement you might take. Talk to your doctor, your pharmacist, or a registered dietitian. A supplement that seemed to help your neighbor might not work for you. If you are reading fact sheets or checking websites, be aware of the source of the information. Could the writer or group profit from the sale of a particular supplement? For more information from the National Institute on Aging about choosing reliable health information websites, see For More Information.
  • Remember. Just because something is said to be “natural” doesn’t also mean it is either safe or good for you. It could have side effects. It might make a medicine your doctor prescribed for you either weaker or stronger.
  • Tell your doctor. He or she needs to know if you decide to go ahead and use a dietary supplement. Do not diagnose or treat your health condition without first checking with your doctor.
  • Buy wisely. Choose brands that your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist says are trustworthy. Don’t buy dietary supplements with ingredients you don’t need. Don’t assume that more is better. It is possible to waste money on unneeded supplements.
  • Check the science. Make sure any claim made about a dietary supplement is based on scientific proof. The company making the dietary supplement should be able to send you information on the safety and/or effectiveness of the ingredients in a product, which you can then discuss with your doctor. Remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


What Can I Do to Stay Healthy?

Here’s what one active older person does:

When she turned 60, Pearl decided she wanted to stay healthy and active as long as possible. She was careful about what she ate. She became more physically active. Now she takes a long, brisk walk 3 or 4 times a week. In bad weather, she joins the mall walkers at the local shopping mall. On nice days, Pearl works in her garden. When she was younger, Pearl stopped smoking and started using a seatbelt. She’s even learning how to use a computer to find healthy recipes. Last month, she turned 84 and danced at her granddaughter’s wedding!

Try following Pearl’s example—stick to a healthy diet, be physically active, keep your mind active, don’t smoke, see your doctor regularly, and, in most cases, only use dietary supplements suggested by your doctor or pharmacist.


For More Information

Here are some helpful resources:

Department of Agriculture

Food and Nutrition Information Center

National Agricultural Library

10301 Baltimore Avenue, Room 108

Beltsville, MD 20705



Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20580

1-877-382-4357 (toll-free)

1-866-653-4261 (TTY/toll-free)


Food and Drug Administration

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

5100 Paint Branch Parkway

College Park, MD 20740

1-888-723-3366 (toll-free)


National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clearinghouse

P.O. Box 7923

Gaithersburg, MD 20898

1-888-644-6226 (toll-free)

1-866-464-3615 (TTY/toll-free)


National Library of Medicine


Office of Dietary Supplements

National Institutes of Health

6100 Executive Boulevard

Room 3B01, MSC 7517

Bethesda, MD 20892-7517



The Federal Government has several other websites with information on nutrition, including:

www.nutrition.gov—learn more about healthy eating, food shopping, assistance programs, and nutrition-related health subjects.

www.choosemyplate.gov—information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

For information on exercise, nutrition, and health scams and other resources on health and aging, contact:

National Institute on Aging Information Center

P.O. Box 8057

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057

1-800-222-2225 (toll-free)

1-800-222-4225 (TTY/toll-free)



Visit www.nihseniorhealth.gov, a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This website has health and wellness information for older adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you can click on a button to make the type larger.

National Institute on Aging

National Institutes of Health

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Four Common Foods That May Lower Risk of Depression

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Four Common Foods That May Lower Risk of Depression, and three foods linked to increased risk of depression.

Todays blog post is from PsyBlog


A diet high in refined carbohydrates increases the risk of depression in some people, a new study finds.

Carbohydrates include foods like white bread, white rice and soda.

These foods have a high glycemic index, which causes a hormonal reaction in the body. The hormone may, in turn, increase fatigue, mood changes and symptoms of depression.


The study looked at 70,000 post-menopausal women who were followed over a period of four years.

The researchers found that consumption of more refined grains and sugars was linked to depression.

Women who ate more vegetables, whole grains, dietary fibre and non-juice fruit, however, had a lower risk of depression.


The study’s authors write:


“The consumption of sweetened beverages, refined foods, and pastries has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of depression in longitudinal studies. The results from this study suggest that high-GI diets could be a risk factor for depression in postmenopausal women.”


The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Gangwisch et al., 2015).



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