Healthy Eating

Study Finds Low Carb and High Carb Diets Both Increase Risk of Mortality

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A new study published in The Lancet on August 16, 2018 shows that both low carbohydrate diets and high carbohydrates are associated with increased risk of death, where a moderate carbohydrate diet provides the greatest benefit to longevity.

The study looked at death from all causes in a study group of 15,000 people between the ages of 45 years and 64 years (midlife) from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in four communities in the United States.  These study participants completed surveys related to their dietary habits and were then followed by researchers for 25 years.  

From age 50 on, the researchers found that those study participants who ate a diet with moderate carbohydrate intake, defined as 50-55% of their daily energy provided by carbohydrates, lived an average additional 33 years.

Study participants who ate a low carbohydrate diet, with less than 40% of their energy coming from carbohydrates, lived an average additional 29 years.  Participants who ate a high carbohydrate diet of over 70% of their diet consisting of carbohydrate, lived an additional 32 years.

The researchers also found that all low carbohydrate diets are not created equal.  Those low carbohydrate diets that were high in animal protein and fat had a higher risk of death.  Low carbohydrate diets that were high in plant based proteins and fats had a lower risk of death, as well as a lower risk of death specifically from cardiovascular disease.  The study states:

Long-term effects of a low carbohydrate diet with typically low plant and increased animal protein and fat consumption have been hypothesised to stimulate inflammatory pathways, biological ageing, and oxidative stress
— Seidelmann, et al

The researchers compared their results from this study to results from seven other studies conducted in North America, Europe, and Asia, with similar results.  The study concludes that a diet consisting of moderate carbohydrate intake is best for healthy aging.

While the study did not examine the quality of carbohydrates consumed by study participants, other studies have shown that complex carbohydrates with higher fiber and nutrient content are part of a healthy diet.  This study does lend weight to the idea that going to extremes with low-carb dieting is not the best long-term answer to improving your health any more than carbohydrate overloading is healthy.

Here at Yes I Can Health, I advocate safe, proven strategies to improve your lifelong wellness through changing habits and creating balance.

One habit to develop is simply eating more vegetables and fruits in your daily diet.  This study did indeed show that those participants who ate more plant based foods, whether low carb, moderate carb, or high carb, had longer lifespans and lower risk of death, as well as lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  

If you would like to learn how to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet, I encourage you to sign up for the Bunny Trail Virtual Challenge!

Healthy Turkey and Cauliflower Rice Taco Salad

I do love a good taco salad, and this version has all the ingredients you need for a healthy dose of vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and heart-healthy fat, all in a low-carb dish that is delicious.  As always, adjust seasonings to suit your taste, and limit salt if you are on a low-sodium diet.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

1 onion

1 tbsp minced garlic (more if you like)

2 sweet peppers

2 jalapeno peppers (optional if you like a little heat)

1 bag frozen riced cauliflower, or 1 head of fresh cauliflower grated finely

3/4 cup frozen corn

1 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

salad greens

sour cream (optional)

grated cheddar cheese (optional)

cilantro, chopped  (optional)

Salsa (optional)

Diced tomatos (optional)

Sliced avocado (optional)

1 tbsp olive or avocado oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Chop onion and peppers and saute in oil  on medium high heat until soft.  Add garlic and seasonings.  Add turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat until crumbly, 4-5 minutes.  Add the cauliflower and saute until cooked through, approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the corn and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

To serve, place the salad greens on a plate.  Spoon over the turkey mixture.  Top as desired with salsa, diced tomatos, grated cheese, cilantro, sliced avocado, and sour cream.

You're Not Eating Enough Vegetables and Fruit

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According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, women over 31 years old should consume 1-1/2 cups of fruit a day.  Women between the ages of 31 - 50 should eat at least 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day and women ages 51 and over should eat 2 cups of vegetables a day.  If you are more than moderately active, you can consume even more.  But unless you are a vegetarian or eating a primarily plant-based diet, you are probably not eating enough vegetables or fruit.

A study conducted during 2007 and 2010 found that half of the total U.S. population consumed less than 1 cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables daily; 76% did not meet fruit intake recommendations, and 87% did not meet vegetable intake recommendations.

In 2015, the CDC reports, less than 13% of adults overall consumed the recommended amount of fruit and less than 10% consumed the recommended amount of vegetables. 

Most of us know that we need to eat vegetables and fruit to be healthy.  We know that eating more vegetables and fruits can help us to lose weight, improve our heart health, and prevent chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers.  We know that vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are good for us. 

So why aren't we eating our fruits and vegetables?  Here are some of the most common reasons I gleaned from an informal survey of women over 50:

1.  We believe that vegetables and fruits are expensive.  Women and families living on a fixed income may not have enough to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to cheaper processed foods with lower nutritional value.

2.  We are living busy lives and we believe that we don't have time to prepare them.  Women working full time jobs and caring for families believe they don't have the time, energy, or motivation to prepare a full meal that includes fruits and vegetables.

3.  We prefer food that is convenient, quick, and easy.  We want foods we can grab and go or eat on the run, and we think that fruits and vegetables aren't as convenient, quick and easy and processed or fast foods.

4.  We believe we don't like the taste or we don't know how to prepare vegetables and fruits.  We have preconceived notions about whether we will like certain fruits and vegetables, often based on what we ate as a child.

5.  We don't want to be wasteful.  If we buy fresh fruits or vegetables and don't use them, they will go bad and we will just have to throw them out.

6.  We don't sit down to meals anymore and so we don't prepare full course meals.  Because of our busy lives and need to eat "on the go", we often lack the structure and pre-planning to prepare real food that we sit down with our families to eat.

7.  We live in food deserts where fresh fruits and vegetables simply aren't readily available.  Whether it is in downtown areas in big cities or small out of the way rural towns and villages, many women live in areas where a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (or even canned or frozen fruits and vegetables) just isn't available.  They would like to eat healthier but their options are limited.

8.  We believe we are eating healthy, even when we're not.  We often think that the food choices we make are healthy, but either our portion sizes are too large or we are choosing unhealthy dietary options (or too much of unhealthy dietary options).  We have a disconnect between what we believe we are eating and what we are actually consuming.

9.  Chronic illness may limit what we are able to eat.  Some women feel they have to limit fruit or vegetable intake because of illnesses such as diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome.

Eating enough fruits and vegetables each day requires effort and mindfulness and a desire to improve our health.  We have to be intentional about making sure we eat them in the first place.  We have to learn how to prepare them so that they are tasty and appealing.  We have to set aside the time and plan ahead.  We have to work out our budget so that we can afford healthy foods or we may have to locate a source of fruits and vegetables.  We may have to work with a physician or nutritionist to determine what we can eat and how much.  

Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables each day?  If not, why not?  Are you interested in learning how to improve your consumption of fruits and vegetables to improve your health?  

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In this 30-level challenge, you will learn why it is important to include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, and how to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. This challenge is easy and fun, packed with daily lessons, mini-challenges, and quizzes.

Fast and Easy Vegetable Soup

Sometimes, there is just nothing more comforting and nourishing than a bowl of soup.  Vegetable soup is a fantastic way to increase the amount of vegetables you eat, and you can use fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables to take advantage of seasonal produce or what you have stored.

Here is a simple recipe for vegetable soup that uses a mix of canned and frozen produce, but feel free to substitute fresh produce if you have it available:

Ingredients:

  • Organic vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced organic tomatos
  • 1 bag of organic frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

In large saucepan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, celery and garlic until soft.  Add seasonings, broth, tomatos, and vegetables.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer until vegetables are soft and heated through - about 20 minutes.

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Researchers Found a Problem with the Research Supporting the Mediterranean Diet - What Does This Mean For You?

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You may have seen articles in the news this week that a major study supporting the Mediterranean Diet has been retracted.  And you may have questions about what this means and whether or not you should consider following the Mediterranean Diet.

First of all, let's start with a little background.

Over 50 years ago, a research study by Ancel Keys, PhD, the Seven Countries Study, found that middle-aged men living in the Mediterranean region of the world, specifically the island of Crete, experienced lower cardiovascular disease rates than middle-aged men in other parts of the world.  This outcomes was attributed to their diet - specifically a traditional diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fish.

Subsequent studies found that people in the Mediterranean region following this diet experienced an array of health benefits, including increased lifespan, less obesity, lower cholesterol, lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improved brain function and lower rates of Alzheimer's disease.

In 2013, results from a landmark study called the PREDIMED trial were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  This large multi-site trial was touted as a randomized study comparing the Mediterranean Diet against the low-fat diet promoted by the American Heart Association.  The results were impressive:  A Mediterranean diet that included nuts reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30% and risk of stroke by 49% when compared to the American Heart Association low-fat diet.

This week, the researchers acknowledged that there were serious problems with their methodology in the PREDIMED study - specifically, not all of the supposedly randomized participants were, in fact, separated into groups randomly.  The researchers re-analyzed their results, retracted the original study, and replaced the study with the new results - which came to the same conclusion as the original study.

In other words, even though the original study design was flawed, once the data were corrected to account for the flaws, the results were the same.  The Mediterranean Diet does lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  In addition to all the benefits noted in other studies of the diet.

So, if you follow, or are considering following, the Mediterranean Diet as your way of eating, should you throw it out?  Absolutely not!

The Mediterranean Diet with its emphasis on plant-based, locally sourced, whole and natural foods remains a very healthy way of eating with many health benefits. 

The Mediterranean Diet with its emphasis on plant-based, locally sourced, whole and natural foods remains a very healthy way of eating with many health benefits.  When you are eating the Mediterranean way, your diet will focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables, legumes, lean protein, nuts, healthy fats, and whole grains, all in moderation, and washed down with a bit of red wine if you so choose.  It is a diet that is loaded with the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants your body needs, with little of the highly processed, low-nutrition foods so common in the standard American diet.  And it is a way of eating that is reasonably easy to follow, filled as it is with a tasty variety of mostly easy to find foods.  So eat up with a clear conscience - and don't forget the red wine!