Category Archives: superfoods

Healthy Magnesium

Healthy Magnesium

The mineral magnesium reduces many conditions like heart and kidney disease, strokes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, type II diabetes, asthma, some cancers, and is correlated with longevity(1). Americans are historically 70% deficient in this mineral that worstens with age.

Life Extension’s recent publication of these findings is embarrassing the medical community who wear blinders. Dr. Faloon draws similarities with the emerging of vitamin D. Both are low cost essential supplements that provide health benefits and have been overlooked by doctors for years.

Magnesium used to be in the water we drink, but bottled and municipal water have stopped that. It is not in the food we eat unless the soil was rich with it. Even then,  studies found that food levels are just too low and unreliable.   The risk of death from any cause is greatly increased with low magnesium levels and creates faster cell aging.

If you’re concerned with cardiovascular disease, results show you are 37% less likely to die of heart attacks when taking magnesium. Calcification or clogging of the arteries was 58% less likely to occur. In another study, men with high levels have less cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They were 41% less likely to have a stroke.

Our kidneys work full time filtering out waste from our blood. If they fail, you will need dialysis the rest of your life. A large study with 13,000 people confirmed that low levels of magnesium correlate with live disease. Results indicated a 58% greater risk of kidney disease with low levels.

Osteoporosis, a concern of aging,  is directly effected since about half of our magnesium is stored in our bones. Calcium and magnesium must be balanced to offset the inflammation to prevent our bones from breaking down. Taking supplements proved to increase bone density including your teeth.

In conclusion, magnesium counters chronic inflammation which contributes to many age related diseases effecting longevity. Since most of us are deficient in this mineral and its low cost, it makes sense to supplement. The government recommended daily amount of magnesium is 420mg for males and 320mg for females. Always consult your doctor as well.

(1) Life Extension Mag 2016 Dec. “The National Magnesium Crisis” No. 12, p.44-51.

More:   www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Reverse Fructose Damage

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP damage causes diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.  A UCLA study shows it changes genes in the brain which impair memory and ability to learn. More importantly, this study also reveals some amazing new research that shows the ability of certain fatty acids to reverse damage to your genes.

These fructose induced changes can also lead to Parkinson’s, depression, bipolar disorder and other brain impairments. It  increases your glucose and triglycerides levels which lead to obesity, inflammation and related diseases.

Fructose is found in most baby foods, if you can believe that, while adults get it mostly from sweetened drinks and packaged foods. Americans consume 27 pounds of fructose in an average year. We are unknowingly altering our genes and health while the FDA is missing in action to regulate it.

The UCLA study(1) seems to have found the antidote. It’s an omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic or DHA which reverses these negative changes.

“DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, its remarkable,” said Dr. Yang(professor of integrative biology and physiology).

DHA does this by increasing the strength of the synapses(the connection between two nerve cells). They warn that it is not a “magic bullet” and should be combined with a healthy diet since the body doesn’t produce enough DHA on its own.

HOW TO REVERSE THE EFFECT   The researchers view food as a pharmaceutical compound that nourishes the brain and body. Besides avoiding high fructose corn syrup, try avoiding sugary drinks and desserts and generally eating less sugar and saturated fat. In terms of what to eat, Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA are found in many fish like mackerel, tuna, wild salmon(not farmed), walnuts, flaxseed, as well as veggies and fruit.

Fruit also contains fructose, but also has vitamins, minerals, carbs, and fiber. Its natural while high fructose corn syrup is processed from corn without the healthy ingredients.  Corn syrup itself is just glucose and not as damaging as fructose which is glucose and fructose combined. The scientists recommend avoiding both since they are unnecessary sugary supplements.

Besides a healthy diet, some people take supplements of omega-3. You sometime see EPA/DHA on the bottle which are both fatty acid compounds in omega-3s. Always research the best absorption rate on any supplement you decide to take to get maximum benefit.

Now that I have been reading food labels to avoid fructose, I’m really shocked at how many foods contain this. It’s mainly a phenomenon in the United States and is slow to catch on in the rest of the world. So, in addition to avoiding fructose and eating omega-3 foods,  I personally have been using Krill oil that has EPA and DHA. Krill oil has the omega-3 fatty acid and tends to have better absorption and is easier on the stomach.

L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Originally from: EBioMedicine.com.  Retrieved on 4-22-16 from: http://www.medicalnewstoday. com/releases/309479.php

OLIVE OIL reduces BREAST CANCER

Can olive oil really reduce breast cancer? A trial study involving 4282 at risk women due to diabetes or other factors was done with a five year follow-up after a controlled dietary change. One group ate a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and the other was on a similar low fat diet without olive oil. Both groups benefited, but the different results revealed that the olive oil group had a 68% lower risk of cancer. This occurred because the extra virgin oil has more polyphenols(micronutrients) and hydroxytyrosol(antioxidants).  JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015 Sep 14.

As a research driven consumer, I personally have enjoyed the Mediterranean diet for a few years now because of the extraordinary protective cardiovascular benefits. So, this anti- breast cancer effect is an added bonus and confirms this diet for longevity. It’s the “First Press Extra Virgin” that is the best oil with extra nutrients. It might be that this diet has more benefits for women according to studies like this. For those of you new to the Mediterranean diet, here is a simple introduction:  http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/mediterranean-diet/

Coffee Update

Coffee Update–Once considered to be harmful, coffee research has exploded in recent years. New studies show improvements in a number of different areas of health and even suggest how much to consume for maximum benefit.

COFFEE PROTECTS YOUR HEART  This is contrary to older thought, but Life Extension(1) discusses studies that show positive effects to your heart, blood vessels, and brain. To protect your heart, coffee works on the cells that form a lining in your heart and blood vessels–the endothelium. Coffee relaxes the vessels and has an anti-inflammatory effect. There is a 11% reduction of heart disease with 1.5 cups a day and a 15% reduction with 3.5 cups a day.

COFFEE REDUCES FAT AND DIABETES  I always question how adding to your consumption can reduce fat, but there are now many studies behind this. A compound in coffee, chlorogenic acid, has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that lowers your blood sugar and abdominal fat. This activates the immune system helping to prevent cancer as well. Your diabetic risk is reduced by 8, 15, 21, 25, 29, and 33% for consumption of 1 to 6 cups a day.

COFFEE PREVENTS SOME CANCERS  Liver and kidney cancers are the most improved even if you already have hepatitis. Many Americans eat a fatty diet and like their alcohol which damages the liver. Coffee’s anti-oxidant enzymes deactivate cancer enzymes. It helps destroy renal cancer cells in your kidneys. Drinking 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, or 8 cups a day results in liver cancer reduction of 34, 56, 62, and 68%.

COFFEE PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN  Age related cognitive decline leading to dementia is a concern for all of us. Caffeinated coffee elevates plasma levels which improves memory and may promote new brain cells.  Two of the most common disorders of aging, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, can be reduced. Consuming 3 cups a day reduces your chance of Parkinson’s by 28%.

IN CONCLUSION  Life Extension(1) notes coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of dying from all causes with caffeinated coffee having a slightly stronger effect. I’ve been a fan of green tea health benefits, but with this new research, it looks like coffee in the morning and green tea the rest of the day.

Keep in mind that how you drink your coffee matters too. A simple cup of brewed coffee has no fat and 5 calories. However, a large frappuccino has up to 580 calories which is equivalent to a meal.  Some coffee drinks have up to 20 grams of fat. I understand that these are dessert drinks, but you don’t want to increase your fat intake accidentally. Using a little non-fat milk and the natural sweetener stevia is all you need to improve the taste. I personally recommend organic coffee to really enjoy the richness of flavor.                                                                                  Lee Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Huntington, J. New Health Benefits from Daily Coffee. Life Extension Magazine. July 2014, p48-57.

Taurine for Health and Longevity

If you’re trying to lose weight and increase your longevity, you know the importance of exercise and diet. But, if your diet is rich in vegetables, you probably have low taurine levels. As we age, Taurine amino acid production by the body also decreases. Why is this a problem? According to Life Extension Magazine(1), it’s needed to  improve heart health, immunity, hearing function, insulin sensitivity and electrolyte balance. In animal studies, it reduced mortality by almost 80%. In humans, the cultures with greatest longevity all have a high intake of taurine. People with high taurine have much lower blood pressure and lower rates of dying form heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

In terms of weight loss, they report a study where just 3 grams per day of taurine for 7 weeks resulted in significant weight loss for those over-weight. They also recorder declines in triglycerides and cholesterol. Taurine promotes glucose tolerance that helps reduce weight. This is especially important for diabetics since taurine helps prevent and even reverse diabetic abnormalities and prevent heart muscle damage(1).

Taurine also protects your vision and hearing. Age related vision loss is common among Americans, but not in all cultures. This amino acid has very high concentrations in the retina which naturally declines with age. Although, many things impact vision, proper levels of taurine help to prevent vision impairment. Americans also tend to have hearing loss with aging. Most of this damage is from inner ear nerve cells due to low calcium flow.  Amazing as it is, taurine restores the calcium flow which restores hearing loss from that source. Related studies also report that ringing in the ears from tinnitus can be stopped.

Additional benefits for athletes have revealed that cyclists can ride longer distances with less fatigue. Taurine apparently helps muscles preform at a higher level for longer periods without risk of injury. It increases “muscle contractility” or the force that muscle fibers use to push and pull. The result is that your muscles are stronger. One of the main cause of muscular fatigue is lactic acid. That stiff feeling the muscles get when you start out too fast. Taurine helps reduce the lactic acid thereby increasing your endurance.

Since the aging body cannot produce enough taurine, other methods must be used. Taurine can be incorporated into your diet, but you would need to eat more meat. One of the foods with the highest content of taurine is fish and shell fish (with mackerel at the top of the list). Chicken, beef and lamb are also a good source of this amino acid especially the organ meat. But, if you are a dedicated vegetarian or vegan, you probably want to consider supplements. Studies tell us that as little as 1.5 grams a day is enough to restore healthy levels. If you are a light meat eater, you may still consider a supplement since it takes a substantial amount of meat to balance your levels. L. Johnson      http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Macleavy, I. The Forgotten Longevity Benefits of Taurine. Life Extension Magazine. 2013 June. Retrieved on 9-28-2015 from: lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/6/The-Forgotten-Longevity-Benefits-of-Taurine/Page-01

Stevia Replaces Sugar

Stevia is healthier than sugar because it has zero calories, has little aftertaste, has no effect on blood sugar, and is 200 times sweeter than sugar(1). The Stevia plant, sterol glycosides, originates in South America and is part of the sunflower(Aster) family. It has been used there for 100s of years to sweeten drinks and food. Stevia was approved for use by the FDA in 2008.

We all grew up on sugar and have been suffering the consequences ever since. Lets count the ways that sugar is quietly hurting us according to studies: 1. Sugar increases your cancer risk 2. It increases your risk of heart disease 3. It causes insulin resistance(diabetes) 4. It decays your teeth 5. It increases your calories and weight 6. It is addictive due to the dopamine effect 7. It can overload your liver leading to fatty liver disease.

According to the Life Extension(1) article, the most important dietary step you can take to decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and other age related diseases, is to avoid elevations of blood sugar and insulin after eating. A study is mentioned that gave Stevia(250 mg) to subjects three times a day for one year. The results were a significant and lasting decrease in blood pressure for patients with mild to moderate hypertension. The benefits were so effective at lowering blood pressure, it is now suggested as an alternative therapy.

Stevia additional health benefits work as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, and immunological agent. Additionally, subjects who ate stevia felt more satisfied on less calories and did not eat more throughout the day. This is most likely because blood sugar and insulin levels remained stable. Stevia can actually help reverse insulin resistance to prevent diabetes.

I find the contrast between the hazards of sugar and the benefits of Stevia, to be night and day. I find it amazing that the FDA took so long to approve it and that its inclusion into drinks and foods is slow to materialize. But, as health oriented people, we can take charge of our own diets. I have personally been using Stevia for a couple of years now and I have to honestly say that I do not miss sugar at all. In fact, I find myself using less and less sweeteners because Stevia helps me slowly lose the taste for sweetness.

When buying Stevia, I was surprised that it was not in my local grocery store. I find health food stores overpriced in my area, so I head for the internet. Since Stevia is packaged under different brand names, just check the ingredients. It’s okay to be sweet again.   L. Johnson      http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Iafelice, R. Superfoods: Sweet As Sugar. Life Extension Magazine, 2014 Feb. 95-99

Superfood: CHAGA MUSHROOM

If you haven’t heard of the medicinal Chaga mushroom, this article is for you. The Inonotus obliquus is a fungus that grows on trees by feeding off the lignins without damaging the integrity of the tree itself. However, it doesn’t look like a typical mushroom with a top and stem. It’s visually similar to a piece of bark with red, brown and black colors.

A superfoods site(1)tells why this fungus is so healthy. It starts with the extremely high level of immune boosting antioxidants such as glucans and betulinic acid. Beta glucans boost the immune system, but is not produced by the body. It is found in grains like oats, wheat, rye, and barley besides certain mushrooms. This immune response protects us from breast, stomach and colorectal cancers. It has been used in Russia as an anticancer drug since 1955.

Betulinic acid is an anti-inflammatory and antiretroviral agent that is also found in the bark of trees. It is thought to inhibit melanoma and has been studied by the National Cancer Institute as a treatment for some cancers. Chaga is also considered one of most powerful adaptogens or compounds that promotes homeostasis in the body.

Its even good for your skin. Chaga has the highest melanin content in any food which acts as a gene protector. Melanin, a pigment produced in the skin of all animals, can protect the skin from sun damage as well as hair and eyes. It prevents UV radiation damage from the sun. We all know how UV damage tends to age the skin prematurely.

Here are the vitamins and minerals(1):

  • vitamin B2
  • vitamin D2
  • calcium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • sulfur
  • potassium
  • rubidium and cesium
  • silicon
  • germanium
  • manganese
  • selenium
  • zinc
  • antimony
  • barium
  • bismuth
  • boron
  • chromium
  • copper

There are different ways to ingest the Chaga mushroom, but it’s mostly ground and used in tea or as an extract in capsule form. I personally enjoy it as a brewed tea, so I buy the ground powder on amazon. I find the taste similar to orange pekoe tea with a bit of an earthy flavor. It’s mild enough that I don’t use sweeteners and my teenage daughter has fallen in love with it.

Side effects: It may increase the effect of anticoagulants like aspirin and warfarin. It may also interact with diabetes medicines like insulin.

(1)Superfoods for Superhealth staff. Changa Mushroom Benefits as an Immune Enhancing Superfood. 2015. Retrieved from www.superfoods-for-superhealth.com/chaga.html on 8-31-15.

by L. Johnson    http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

BEST DIETS

The best diets are ranked by doctors, nutritionalists and dietitians for U. S. News and World Report(1) annually. There are many factors that go into the ranking like its heart and diabetes ratings, weight loss potential, ease of following and best plant based diets. These different ratings are combined to afford its overall rating.

One of the first things you notice reviewing the list is how the trendy diets are near the bottom. Here is a list of the top and bottom five diets:

The Worst:

The Fast Diet–weak on dietary guidance when not fasting

Atkins–good for weight loss, not for nutrition or heart health

Raw food–3rd for weight loss, but too hard to follow

Dukan–not proven with a ton of rules

Paleo–not proven and ignores certain food groups, hard to follow

The Best:

DASH diet-(Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)This started out to lower blood pressure, but ranks high due to its safety, nutritional completeness and prevention of diabetes and blood pressure.

TLC diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) was created by the National Institutes of Health. Its described as a complete diet and is especially heart healthy. Its a do-it-yourself diet, so you just get organized with meal planning.

Mayo Clinic Developed at the clinic to make healthy eating a lifestyle. It has great nutritional balance and safety, but not necessarily as a weight loss diet.

Mediterranean Diet This diet is heavy into veggies and fruits, olive oil, fish, nuts, and grains. It’s a longevity diet, but not necessarily for weight loss.

Weight Watchers The only commercial diet on the top 5. It’s a nutritionally sound diet that’s easy to follow and has group support to encourage weight loss.

I found it interesting that cancer prevention wasn’t included as part of the ranking criteria considering it’s the second cause of death in the U.S.(heart disease is first). A plant based diet is good for cancer prevention as many of these are, but you may want a more specific diet. For example, we know that onions, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables provide more cancer protection than other veggies. So, adapting a diet specific to cancer is better than a general good diet, if that is your situation.

After examining the details of these diets, I find the DASH and the Mediterranean diets to be similar with their heavy emphasis on whole grains and veggies. I personally follow the Mediterranean diet because I have a cerebrovascular(stroke) history in my ancestry and I like the freedom it provides. I encourage you to choose a diet based on your genetic predispositions as well. So, take a little time to find out your family medical history to help determine your direction. Then you can choose a diet specific to your genes and family history. Bon Appetite.

L. Johnson        www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)U.S. News staff. Jan. 2015. “Best diets overall” Retrieved on 9-14-15 from website: health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-overall-diets

Best Foods for Women over 50

The best foods for women over 50 is based on the premise that women’s nutritional needs change at 50 and are different from men. An interesting article noticed that certain foods give women a health benefit by, “helping to prevent memory loss, hip fractures, breast and stomach cancers”(1). Five primary food categories have been identified as therapeutic.

Strawberries and Blueberries: The berry category is known to help prevent brain aging and memory loss especially if eaten daily. The article also mentions a Harvard study that found if older women eat two servings (1/2 cup each) of strawberries a week there is less inflammation in the blood. The study found that strawberries contain a number of key nutrients that play a role in taming inflammation, including fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C.

Green Tea We know that teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant like matcha, white, green, and oolong teas have a long list of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Black and pu-erh teas have more caffeine and less of these polyphenols and catechins. Catechins are a potent anti-cancer antioxidant also found in cocoa, peaches and prune juice. Catechins rich foods have been shown to reduce cancerous tumors in skin, colon, liver, and mammary glands.

The article reports another study by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center that involved the diets of 75,000 middle-aged women. “Women who drank green tea three times a week for more than six months had a 17 percent lower risk of all three digestive cancers combined.”   For more details about green tea please see: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/green-tea-update/

Dark, Leafy Greens This is more antioxidant food with the addition of vitamin K which is an important bone strengthener. Along with calcium, the combined effect helps prevent hip fractures when over 50 years of age. These leafy vegetables also help lower cholesterol,  protect your eyes, and reduce colon cancer. The effect of vitamin K may also help to protect the skin’s elasticity while helping to prevent wrinkles.

Walnuts The article included walnuts for omega-3 fats. I was a bit surprised with this one since we know fish and flaxseed is much higher in omega-3 fatty acids. If there is a concern with mercury in fish, you can certainly use flaxseed oil or just supplement with krill oil, like I do.  Nevertheless, walnuts and nuts in general are a healthy food with clear benefits. They mention, “Researchers speculate that walnuts carry many anti-cancer components that may be acting synergistically.” Salt free is the best way to go if you’re watching your blood pressure.

Red Wine/Alcohol This one is a bit of a surprise too since we know this benefits both genders. Alcohol acts as a blood thinner and takes pressure off the heart. The red grape contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that is known to prevent cell damage and cognitive decline. It contains quercetin, an antioxidant known to induce death to cancer cells. It also contains tannins, which give wine its color and may protect against heart disease. Some studies have correlated red wine consumption with longer life spans. The amount recommended for women is one to two glasses per day of any alcohol drink.

In conclusion, I find the recommendations here are sound and based on research. There are many ways to get your needed nutrients, so don’t feel confined to any one. If you are allergic to nuts, for example, just replace it with fish, krill oil or other foods high in omega-3.     L. Johnson     From: http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Callahan, M. 12/28/12. Fiftysomething Diet: The 5 Food Women Need to Eat Retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/28/diet-for-women_n_2371463.html

Superfood: OLIVE OIL

Olive oil, the keystone food of the Mediterranean diet, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, inflammation, skin aging, and cognitive decline. The powerful protection of olive oil reduces the causes of death and the effect of aging. It an essential ingredient for this longevity diet.

Olive oil is certainly not new to us, but the health benefits increase if we completely eliminate butter and related products and increase the use of olive oil. This is especially true for the first press of extra virgin olive oil that has higher polyphenols which in turn combat inflammation. Why is inflammation bad? Its present with and worsens chronic diseases which is correlated with premature illness and death.

How does it help our cardiovascular system? We know from studies that it decreases overall cholesterol and low-density lipo-protein(LDL). “One of the key polyphenols in olive oil—hydroxytyrosol helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. Hydroxytyrosol helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level”(1). I find it amazing that genetic changes can occur. But, we are still learning about how profound the effect is of this oil.  In other words, olive oil not only lowers cholesterol, but the oil protects the inside of the cell wall from damage.

Can it really help to prevent cancer? A Life Extension study states olive oil reduces the risk of many types of cancer. The oleic acid in it interferes with the triggering of certain genes that play a key role in cancer. They mention evidence of its preventative effect on breast cancer cells by suppressing the breast cancer gene HER2. “It switches off the proteins that cancer cells rely on to survive and multiply.(2)” It suppresses the gene that drives tumor growth. So, if you’re a woman, this is a wonderful extra benefit.

There is some preliminary evidence that olive oil can reducing aging of the skin. However, further study is needed before solid claims can be made. Life Extension reports, “Scientists linked oleo-canthal, found in olive oil, to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” This occurs as a result of increasing the transfer of proteins in the brain. This benefit is so promising that it may lead to olive oil based therapy for Alzheimer’s.

When I started following the Mediterranean diet, I increased my olive oil intake. Rather than steam my veggies, I now saute them in olive oil. My salad dressing is olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar. And I use the oil for dipping sourdough–no more butter forever. In terms of eating actual olives, the curing process adds sodium while removing a lot of the polyphenols. So, the olives are not as beneficial as the oil itself. If including olive oil in your routine diet requires too many changes, studies say it’s okay to take 1 to 2 tablespoons a day(3). If it seems odd to drink oil at first, remember it’s all about your health and longevity.   L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)WhFoods staff(no date) “Olive oil, extra virgin” Retrieved on 7-15-2015 from: website: www.whfoods.com/genpage.php/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&bid=132                                  (2)Downey, M.(Aug.2014) “Olive Oil” Life Extension Magazine. Retrieved on 7-15-2015 from website: www.lifeextension.com//Magazine/2014/8/Olive-Oil-Powerful-Protection-Against-Aging-And-Mortality/Page-01                                                                                                                                              (3)Busch, S. (no date) “The benefits of 1 to 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Per Day” Retrieved on 7-15-2015 from website: www.healthyeating.sfgage.com/benefits-1-2-tablespoons-olive-oil-per-day-9046.html