A recent issue of JAMA published reports that contribute to the growing evidence in support of adopting healthy behaviors to protect the heart.1,2
In one article, researchers from Harvard report that men who had greater adherence to 6 factors, including maintaining a normal weight, not smoking, engaging in regular exercise, consuming alcohol in moderation, consuming breakfast cereals, and consuming fruit and vegetables, had a lower risk of developing heart failure.1
In the second article, another group from Harvard describes the benefits of positive lifestyle factors in preventing high blood pressure in women. Women who maintained a normal body weight, engaged in 30 minutes of exercise per day, consumed a low-sodium diet, consumed alcohol in moderation, used non-narcotic analgesics infrequently, and consumed supplemental folic acid had an 80% lower risk of developing hypertension, compared to the rest of the subjects.2
1. JAMA. 2009 Jul 22;302(4):394-400.
New research published in the Journal of Food Science out of Tianjin University states that polysaccharides from black tea may hinder the spike in sugar levels after a meal, making it a potential weapon in the struggle to manage diabetes.*
Black tea, along with green tea and oolong tea, has been looked at to help combat a wide variety of medical ailments over the years, due to tea leaf’s polyphenol content. After studying the polysaccharide-rich fractions from the three teas, researchers found that the black tea had lower molecular weight polysaccharides. This may correlate to the dark tea’s ability to affect alpha-glucosidase activity, which lessens the spike in glucose levels in the blood following a meal.
“Many efforts have been made to search for effective glucose inhibitors from natural materials,” lead researcher Haixia Chen said in a news release. “There is a potential for exploitation of black tea polysaccharide in managing diabetes.”
* Journal of Food Science. 2009 June 30.
It’s common knowledge that weight problems, genetics, and disease risk are all players in a delicate balance that determines your overall health and longevity. However, The Gene Smart Diet (Rodale, 2009) takes the position that your genes, rather than being concrete elements that you need to work around to improve your vitality, can actually be influenced by what you eat.
Using the right variety and calculated portions of certain foods, Dr. Chilton devises a 5-week plan using foods designed for “lasting weight loss and optimum health.” Dotted with personal success stories from people like Mike Jones, who has lost 109 pounds on the Gene Smart diet, the book both informs and inspires. However, as interesting as much of the information that relates genes to our weight is, some of the people interviewed cite common ways that they started losing weight, namely, cutting out fatty foods like pizza, burgers, and junk food, and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. Still, the amount of weight some of the people on the Gene Diet have lost is impressive, and as far as longevity is concerned, any eating plan that makes you healthier is a good thing.
—Floyd H. Chilton, PhD
According to The End of Overeating (Rodale, 2009), America’s staggering weight problem can be boiled down to three things: excess sugar, fat, and salt in our food. If you ever had any doubt about the sheer amount of each in what you consume, you will be utterly convinced by the end of Part One of this book. And by the time you finish Part Six, you’ll look at every single item you order out as a mound of sugar, fat, and salt. Even previously thought of “safe items,” like grilled chicken, are quickly revealed to be harbingers of the unhealthy (a common method of marinating meat is through needle injection, whereby hundreds of needles pierce the meat, tearing up the connective tissue, rendering it “prechewed”).
If prechewed chicken doesn’t dissuade you, this description of how restaurants make buffalo wings just might turn you away from the popular appetizer: the fatty part of the chicken is usually par-fried at a production plant, then fried again at the restaurant, which doubles the fat. Then they’re layered with a flavoring sauce, and usually dipped in another sweet sauce by you. The result: sugar on salt on fat on fat on fat.
Overeating is filled with nuggets like this that will have you second guessing nearly every meal you eat out. Plus, you’ll be introduced to terms like hypereating (excessive eating driven by forces we find difficult to control) and priming (how one taste of food can trigger overeating). Written in a conversational tone, you’ll find Overeating to be at once eye-opening and stomach turning.
—David A. Kessler, MD
Broken down into four parts called The Body’s Six Immune Centers, Immunity Boosters, Immunity Busters, and Your Super Immunity Program, Super Immunity Foods (McGraw-Hill, 2009) is a book that compiles information about how certain foods can positively or negatively affect your health. At times, the book feels like an extended ‘Did You Know?’ column, as in: Did you know minestrone soup can help ease the pain of migraines? Or, did you know that peppermint oil can help alleviate constipation, bloating, and cramps? This style is not a bad thing, however, especially if you have migraines or bloating!
While the book offers culinary solutions to many health problems, it focuses on ways to eat to combat 13 common health conditions that weaken immunity, from arthritis to vision disorders. It also has extensive information on the top 25 immunity-boosting foods and how to incorporate them into a 4-week meal plan. With over 100 recipes to help you boost your immunity, you’ll be getting healthier one plate at a time.
—Frances Sheridan Goulart, CCN