Archive for August, 2010

Originally posted in The Huffington Post

NOTE:  Kaeng Raeng, an all natural, vegan, gluten free cleanse, uses pure soybeans as its form of protein, not a soy isolate.

The ongoing controversy linking cancer to soy — the healthy, protein-rich alternative to meat and dairy products –is alarming. While there is some element of truth in these assertions, they are profoundly misleading.

Here’s what you need to know: Not one scientific study refutes the fact that soy — in its pure forms, such as tempeh, tofu, or whole soybeans — is a healthy food that may actually help prevent cancer and other diseases.

The controversy lies with soy isolate, proteins artificially extracted from the soybean. It’s nothing more than another refined, processed food that you should avoid (this includes soy baby formulas).

A proper explanation involves a heavy round of organic chemistry, but the simple message is this: Just like high fructose corn syrup does not grow organically in your back yard, soy isolate doesn’t vaguely resemble what blossomed in the field. Instead, food manufacturers took a perfectly good plant and added fillers, flavoring and preservatives. Why, you ask? It’s the same processed food story. Additives make the product cheaper and tastier, and they give it a longer shelf life. It’s about business, not health.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a featured contributor to Huffington Post, acknowledges that soy isolate is the problem, not tempeh, tofu, or whole soybeans, which he notes are safe. So does Dr. Dean Ornish, whose number one food group includes soy. Ornish is well known for his diet that reverses heart disease and cancer.

Unfortunately, many scientific studies linking soy to negative health effects are conducted on soy isolate. Too often the separation of these two elements goes unmentioned, allowing a processed extraction to give the pure plant an undeserved bad name. In studies conducted on monkeys and rats, soy protein isolate has been linked to allergic reactions, brain damage, and thyroid problems. However, none of these results has been seen in human studies.

In addition, population studies have failed to show a relationship between soy consumption and increased risk of breast cancer. The biggest concern related to soy revolved around women with hormone receptor positive forms of breast cancer. But it turns out that soy helps because it contains isoflavones.

Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a dietary form of estrogen that occurs naturally in the soybean plant. The isoflavones in soy have a mild estrogenic effect. In other words, when consumed they hop onto receptors in the human body, block our own excess production of estrogen, and essentially halt the process that could cause cancer.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center explored this in detail because they were concerned about the estrogen-like effect of soy on breast cancer survivors. They also wanted to examine soy’s potential interaction with the breast cancer treatment tamoxifen, which works against estrogen receptors in breast tissue. So they studied soy consumption among 5,000 Chinese women treated successfully for breast cancer.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and supported by grants from the Breast Cancer Research Program in the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute, found that women who ate the most soy protein — and therefore consumed the greatest amount of isoflavones — were about one-third less likely to suffer a recurrence of breast cancer or die during the four years of follow-up. The scientists also noted that high soy consumption benefited everyone, including women with either estrogen-positive (cancer cells that need estrogen to grow) or estrogen-negative (cancer cells that don’t need estrogen to grow) illnesses.

In a separate study, The National Cancer Institute found that soy consumption early in life conferred protection against breast cancer later. The women interviewed were of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry, and lived in California or Hawaii. The findings revealed that those who had consumed the largest amounts of soy foods as children (between ages five and 11) lowered their risk for breast cancer by 60 percent as adults. The amount of soy recommended for women to help protect against breast cancer is 25 to 35 grams per day.

The soybean is the only vegetable that contains more protein than carbohydrates. Protein is made from building blocks called amino acids. They are linked together in a chain. Of the 20 amino acids found in the body, eight are considered essential because the body can’t make them, so they must be consumed. Soy protein contains all of them. Therefore, it’s a perfect source of protein for humans.

Soy’s popularity has grown in the last five to seven years as Americans gravitated toward plant-based diets, and away from dairy and animal products that clog arteries and cause heart disease with added fat and hormones fed to animals to make them grow faster — again, an economic rather than a health benefit. Fresh and modern as it may seem, it’s a long way from a new idea. People in Asia have eaten soy for generations, and their incidence of cancer is remarkably low.

To avoid confusion about soy in the future, investigate the details of research findings before dismissing this important dietary staple.

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Originally published at NYTIMES.COM

For a study published last year, British researchers asked 12 healthy male college students to ride stationary bicycles while listening to music that, as the researchers primly wrote, “reflected current popular taste among the undergraduate population.” Each of the six songs chosen differed somewhat in tempo from the others.

The volunteers were told to ride the bicycles at a pace that they comfortably could maintain for 30 minutes. Then each rode in three separate trials, wearing headphones tuned to their preferred volume. Each had his heart rate, power output, pedal cadence, enjoyment of the music and feelings of how hard the riding felt monitored throughout each session. During one of the rides, the six songs ran at their normal tempos. During the other rides, the tempo of the tracks was slowed by 10 percent or increased by 10 percent. The riders were not informed about the tempo manipulations.

But their riding changed significantly in response. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell. Their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences. Their heart rates rose. They reported enjoying the music — the same music — about 36 percent more than when it was slowed. But, paradoxically, they did not find the workout easier. Their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent. The up-tempo music didn’t mask the discomfort of the exercise. But it seemed to motivate them to push themselves. As the researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.”

The interplay of exercise and music is fascinating and not fully understood, perhaps in part because, as a science, it edges into multiple disciplines, from physiology to biomechanics to neurology. No one doubts that people respond to music during exercise. Just look at the legions of iPod-toting exercisers on running paths and in gyms. The outcry when USA Track and Field banned headphones in 2007 at sanctioned races like marathons was loud and pained (and the edict was widely ignored until it was revised last year). The neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has talked about personally experiencing the elemental power of music after he injured his leg mountain climbing and had to push himself slowly down the slope with his elbows. He told an interviewer: “Then I found the Volga Boatmen song going through my mind. I would make a big heave and a ho on each beat in the song. In this way, it seemed to me that I was being ‘music-ed’ down the mountain.”

Just how music impacts the body during exercise, however, is only slowly being teased out by scientists. One study published last year found that basketball players prone to performing poorly under pressure during games were significantly better during high-pressure free-throw shooting if they first listened to catchy, upbeat music and lyrics (in this case, the Monty Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”). The music seemed to distract the players from themselves, from their audience and from thinking about the physical process of shooting, said Christopher Mesagno, a lecturer at the University of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, and the study’s lead author. It freed the body to do what it knew how to do without interference from the brain. “The music was occupying attention that might have been misdirected otherwise,” Mr. Mesagno said.

In fact, it’s music’s dual ability to distract attention (a psychological effect) while simultaneously goosing the heart and the muscles (physiological impacts) that makes it so effective during everyday exercise. Multiple experiments have found that music increases a person’s subjective sense of motivation during a workout, and also concretely affects his or her performance. The resulting interactions between body, brain and music are complex and intertwined. It’s not simply that music motivates you and you run faster. It may be that, instead, your body first responds to the beat, even before your mind joins in; your heart rate and breathing increase and the resulting biochemical reactions join with the music to exhilarate and motivate you to move even faster. Scientists hope to soon better understand the various nervous system and brain mechanisms involved. But for now, they know that music, in most instances, works. It eases exercise. In a typical study, from 2008, cyclists who rode in time to music used 7 percent less oxygen to pedal at the same pace as when they didn’t align themselves to the songs.

But there are limits to the benefits of music, and they probably kick in just when you could use the help the most. Unfortunately, science suggests that music’s impacts decline dramatically when you exercise at an intense level. A much-cited 2004 study of runners found that during hard runs at about 90 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake, a punishing pace, music was of no benefit, physiologically. The runners didn’t up their paces, no matter how fast the music’s tempo. Their heart rates stubbornly stayed the same, already quite high, whether they listened to music or not. That result, according to a 2009 review of research by Costas Karageorghis and David-Lee Priest, researchers who have extensively studied music and exercise, is likely due to the ineluctable realities of hard work. During moderate exercise, they write, music can “narrow attention,” diverting “the mind from sensations of fatigue.” But when you increase the speed and intensity of a workout, “perceptions of fatigue override the impact of music, because attentional processes are dominated by physiological feedback.” The noise of the body drowns all other considerations. Even so, about a third of the runners in the 2004 study told the researchers that they liked listening to the music, especially at the start of the run. It didn’t increase their speed or make the workout demonstrably easier. But it sounded nice.

And that result, obvious as it seems, may be the ultimate lesson of how and why music is effective and desirable during exercise, says Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Illinois, who studies the effects of music on the nervous system. “Humans and songbirds” are the only creatures “that automatically feel the beat” of a song, she said. The human heart wants to synchronize to music, the legs want to swing, metronomically, to a beat. So the next time you go for a moderate run or bike ride, first increase the tempo of some insidiously catchy Lady Gaga downloads (or Justin Bieber or Katy Perry or whatever reflects the current popular taste in your household), and load them on your iPod. “Our bodies,” Dr. Kraus concluded, “are made to be moved by music and move to it.”

Good luck, healthy girl!

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Originally from Health.com

Yes, you can snack if you have diabetes

When your stomach starts to rumble, you need a snack that can curb your hunger without blowing your blood sugar. Just like meals, snacks should be a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Aim for one that consists of 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates and 100 to 200 calories (depending on your meal plan and medication). Here are five that typically get a seal of approval from diabetes educators and nutritionists.

Whole-grain crackers, grapes, and cottage cheese
Nutrient-rich whole grains like cracked wheat, whole wheat, rye, and quinoa can lower blood sugar and cholesterol. The cottage cheese adds protein to stabilize blood sugar, curb hunger pangs, and provide calcium for strong bones. Buy your favorite whole-grain crackers, and make sure that the first ingredient is whole-wheat flour or another whole grain, such as rye. (Even if the ingredient list says “wheat flour,” it is not a whole-grain food unless it specifies “whole-wheat flour.”) Arrange on a small plate 2 crackers, 1/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese, and 1/4 cup grapes. Serving size: 2 crackers, 1/4 cup cottage cheese, and 1/4 cup grapes. 

Nutritional information–Calories: 138, Total Carbohydrate: 21.2 g (7 percent), Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g (6 percent), Sugars 11.9 g

Homemade popcorn
Popcorn is high in fiber, and when made from scratch is an all-natural food without additives and artificial flavorings. Pour 1 tablespoon of mild-flavored oil such as canola into a heavy-bottomed medium-large pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels spread in a thin layer. (If the kernels are too crowded, not all of them will pop.) Cover the pot and heat on medium, shaking the pot every minute or so until all of the kernels have popped. Take care not to cook too long, which could scorch the popped kernels. Sprinkle the popcorn with any of the following: 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, or 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese. Serving size: 1 cup. 

Nutritional information–Calories: 40, Total Carbohydrate: 5.8 g (2 percent), Dietary Fiber: 1.0 g (4 percent), Sugars 0.1 g
Apples and cheese
Fruit is an important part of any diet, even for people with diabetes; it provides fiber and other important nutrients. Portion control is important, because fruit is naturally high in sugar. When adding fruit to your meal plan, choose fruits lower in natural sugars, such as berries, melon, and apples, and always choose smaller whole fruits (or cut larger fruits in half). The cheese adds protein to help stabilize blood sugar and curb hunger pangs, and provides calcium for strong bones. Cut and core 1 small apple into 4 wedges. Cut 1 slice of reduced-fat Cheddar cheese into 4 pieces and place on apple wedges. Serving size: 1 apple wedge and 1/4 slice cheese. 

Nutrition information–Calories: 30, Total Carbohydrate: 5.3 g (2 percent), Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g (3 percent), Sugars 3.8 g
Black bean salad
Black beans are high in both fiber and protein, which help stabilize blood sugar and curb hunger pangs. Fiber can also help lower cholesterol. Tomatoes and other veggies add a variety of important nutrients as well as fiber. Rinse a 15-ounce can of lowest-sodium black beans under running water and drain well. Mix the beans in a medium bowl with 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped cucumber or celery, 1/2 cup chopped green-bell pepper, and 1/4 cup peeled, cubed avocado. Stir in 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 clove minced fresh garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder), 1/8 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serving size: 1/2 cup salad. 

Nutrition information–Calories: 57, Total Carbohydrate: 10.6 g (4 percent), Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g (16 percent), Sugars 1.3 g

Veggies and fresh yogurt dip
Raw vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. The yogurt adds protein to help stabilize blood sugar and curb hunger pangs, and provides calcium for strong bones. Cut some fresh veggies such as carrots, celery, or broccoli into dipping-size pieces to measure 1/2 cup. (Prepare extra veggies in advance and keep in small, serving-size storage containers in the fridge for another day.) Create a simple, healthy dip by stirring together one 8-ounce carton of plain nonfat yogurt, 2 teaspoons of minced fresh dill weed (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed), 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serving size: 1/2 cup veggies and 2 tablespoons of dip. 

Nutrition information–Calories: 31, Total Carbohydrate: 5.5 g (2 percent of Daily Value), Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g (5 percent), Sugars: 3.6 g

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For the original article, click here.

Kaeng Raeng Offers a Healthier Alternative to Fasting

Detoxing can be risky. Call us ole’ fashioned but a dietary plan based around a glass of water with lemon and cayenne pepper for 10 days, just doesn’t scream “healthy.” It screams something more to the tune of  “hungry.”

Still a girl has got to exercise those toxins and chemicals out of her body. That’s why there ain’t no thang like Kaeng Raeng.

An all-natural nutritional cleanse, Kaeng Raeng was created to help you lose weight, shed toxins, build a healthier immune system and improve digestive health in a safer way.  The three- to six-day cleanse is the brainchild of Stanford alumna, Lindsay Reinsmith, who spent years in her own kitchen perfecting a formula that offered a healthier alternative to traditional fasting.

Made with real fruit and no animal products, artificial ingredients, caffeine or gluten, Kaeng Raeng doesn’t require you to starve yourself. You get three packets per day, one for each meal, and can supplement them with raw fruits and vegetables for three to six days. Packed with gentle fiber, probiotics and vitamins and minerals to clean that colon right out, the powder formula can be mixed with water, soy milk or juice.

The program caters to both the veteran and virgin detoxer with beginner and master programs. The 3-day detox program ranges from $50 to $90, while the 6-day plan runs between $85 and $140. If you want to test the waters first, you can also get an individual trial packet for $7 buckaroos.

Visit www.kaengraeng.com to get started. A percentage of all proceeds goes to support the American Humane Society.

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