Tag Archives: NUTRITION

NUTRIGENOMICS: HOW DIET CAN REPROGRAM OUR DNA

The burgeoning field of “nutrigenomics” claims that the food we eat can alter our genetics. Dietitians, scientists and lifestyle companies have all hopped on the bandwagon.

Nutrigenomics (also known as nutritional genomics) is broadly defined as the relationship between nutrients, diet, and gene expression. The launch of the Human Genome Project in the 1990s and the subsequent mapping of human DNA sequencing ushered in the ‘era of big science’, jump-starting the field of nutrigenomics that we know today.

Diets: Southern Foods Up Risks Of Chronic Disease

Warmer weather brings more opportunities for picnics, barbecues and gatherings around food. But before you reach for a second helping, consider if what you’re eating may be increasing your risk for chronic disease. Dr. Ivan Porter II, a nephrologist at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Porter explains dietary changes can have a significant impact on their blood pressure and overall health.

Diet & Nutrition: Nine Healthy ‘Brain Food’ Tips

• Find time to snack healthily. Take short food breaks to help keep your blood-sugar level reasonably high without surging. Eating a piece of fruit every three hours or so, for example, could prevent hunger and overconsumption of calories. And when you eat, relax. Try not to think about your research. If you routinely stand in the lab, sit down. If your role is more sedentary, get up and take a quick stroll — perhaps to see a colleague on the next floor.

• Put food on your agenda. Schedule regular mealtimes in your work diary — because if you don’t, someone else will fill the gap for you by inviting you to a meeting. Choose a slot that aligns with your ‘biological clock’ and alterations in hormones such as insulin to optimize metabolic health, including microbiota diversity and composition. In other words, follow your gut and eat at times of the day when you feel that your body needs it, but generally try to avoid taking lunch too late in the afternoon. Eating earlier in the day can improve your energy balance, weight regulation, glycaemic control and sleep satisfaction6. Your brain consumes about 20% of the total energy used by your body, so maintaining consistent energy levels is important for optimal functioning. Use the time you’ve booked. Focus on what you eat and take your time. Do not grab a sandwich and munch it down in front of a screen. Your body deserves a rest.

• Enjoy your food. Transform your meal break into a pleasant event by sharing it with colleagues. Propose that everyone take turns preparing a dish from their home country or area so that you can all enjoy the cuisines of different cultures. Eating in a group and discussing the day’s events can help you to relax, to laugh and to share useful information and experiences.

• Plan your meals. If you are feeling particularly hungry, your eyes and hypothalamus (a small region in the brain that controls many bodily functions including hunger and thirst) will not help you to make healthy food choices; instead, they will prompt you to go for sugary, salty or fatty options. Try to organize your meals in advance. Increase your intake of low-calorie items, such as soups, salads, vegetables and minimally processed foods that are rich in dietary fibre. Among these are wholegrains, cereals, fruits, pulses, whole rice and wholemeal pasta. These foods are also rich in micronutrients and antioxidants such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, B-vitamins and healthy lipids — especially unsaturated omega-3 ones — that can help to prevent chronic disease. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine — all important for good brain function, mood and emotional regulation — require food-derived precursors, as well as vitamins and minerals, to be synthesized7.

• Diversify your diet. Stimulate your appetite by altering your food choices, preferably by incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your diet and reducing consumption of red meat and meat products. Each new day merits a new meal experience. But this doesn’t mean being a fully fledged connoisseur: overthinking what you eat will lead to compromises with your time and will make further compromises in what you eat more tempting. A saying from the Japanese Okinawa islands, where people have one of the lowest rates of chronic diseases in the world, and where many centenarians live, points the way: “Eat until you are 80% full”8. In practice, this means you should eat slowly and avoid ‘stuffing’ yourself.

• Avoid the insulin roller coaster. As well as contributing to chronic disease, excessive sugar intake might harm cognitive performance9. Sugared drinks, such as sodas, smoothies and even fruit juices, have a very low satiety value. After the sugar surge, glucagon — a hormone produced when sugar levels are low — as well as ghrelin, an appetitive hormone, and others kick back in and you’ll be hypoglycaemic and feel hungry again. Artificially sweetened beverages might not work much better — there is scientific debate about their perceived health benefits, because they might stimulate appetite centrally in the hypothalamus, rather than by modulating insulin levels10. Go for water, coffee, teas (including fruit teas), low-fat milk — or, if you’re desperate for sugar, a homemade fruit juice.

• Drink loads of water. Working inside, where the air is often dry (owing to heating in winter and artificial cooling in summer) can hasten water loss through respiration. Two litres a day of fluid intake is recommended by many health agencies. Pay attention to signs of dehydration. Drinking plenty will increase your blood volume and brain tissue fluid and thus boost your circulation and concentration levels. You will also become more tolerant of heat and cold — which is helpful when working in warm offices and cooled labs. Water is the essential carrier for all life functions in your body. It can also increase daily energy expenditure and feelings of satiety. Drinking water half an hour before your meal is an especially good option because it improves satiety11.

• Use healthy leftovers. Pre-packaged sandwiches and processed foods often have high quantities of fat, sugar, salt and additives that trigger the brain’s dopamine reward system, among other neuronal systems, inducing compulsive eating behaviour12. If you have time, prepare a healthy dish from scratch at home, perhaps making more than is needed for an evening meal and using leftovers for lunch the following day. Among homemade foods, well-balanced traditional dishes can improve your performance and health: for instance, the classic Mediterranean diet has long been linked with improved cognitive function and a decreased likelihood of both cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease3. A Tupperware lunch made with leftovers from even the most indulgent dinner could often make a healthier lunch than a standard pre-packaged sandwich.

• Scrap the salt. Excessive use of salt is among the major killers worldwide, leading to increased blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Some salt is essential to the taste of most foods, as well as for life, however, so don’t attempt to cut it out of your diet entirely. Try pepper, curcuma, nutmeg or other spices to add flavour. Some spices, including curcuma and pepper, also help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and can even decrease total mortality rates13.

Diet News: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter (Mar ’22)

This month, read about:
Spring Greens!NEWSBITES: Vitamin B12 and
depression; vegetables for bone healthChrononutritionYour Amazing Digestive SystemDiet and Your ThyroidAsk Tufts Experts: Nutrition Label Nutrients … Diet and Diverticulitis

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HEALTHY DIETS: BALANCED CARBOHYDRATE RATIO – LOW FREE SUGARS + HIGH FIBER

Are all carbohydrates equally important to you? Considering carbohydrate quantity but also quality has a crucial importance for a healthy and balanced nutrition. Balanced Carbohydrate Ratio has been developed and scientifically proven in order to identify products and diets with the most optimal carbohydrate content.

NUTRITION INFOGRAPHIC: “GOOD AND BAD FATS”

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COMMENTARY:

Water, the miracle molecule, proteins and fats are the very essence of life. Water does not dissolve fat, allowing for the cell membranes, and the compartmentalization of metabolic activity that allows life to happen.

FAT IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. Alas, all fats are not equally beneficial to nutrition, as the article stresses. Trans-fats, partially hydrogenated fatty acids produced mainly by industry, are the worst, acting to stimulate cholesterol synthesis, produce inflammation and damage the endoplasmic reticulum.

Their use has been banned in most countries. Saturated fat has been widely condemned, is not as good as the mono- and polyunsaturated fats, but not as bad as trans-fats. Some of life’s most delicious foods, such as cheeses, contain saturated fats, but it is best to keep down their consumption.

Remember that the first bite of something savory tastes the best; prevent habit from shoveling it down. Unsaturated fats are found in oily fish, which should be part of your diet.

Vegetables such as nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados are sources of “good fat” and should comprise 10-15% of your calories. Fats, compared to carbohydrates, contribute almost twice as many calories to your diet on a weight basis, and it’s easy to get carried away.

Total calories must be kept under control. STAY HEALTHY!

–Dr. C