|Issue #65 - February 2008|
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FOOD LABELS: SODIUM BENZOATE
Chemically, sodium benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid. It is used as a food preservative, an antifungal agent, for dye manufacture, drug formulations, and in liver diagnostic tests.
From the Environmental Working Group website you can see that there have been a variety of health concerns associated with sodium benzoate. Categories include cancer, developmental problems, organ system toxicity, skin irritation, neurotoxicity, and hormone disruption.
Besides the multitude of foods and beverages that contain sodium benzoate it is present in many cosmetic products as well. These include shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, body soap, hairspray, and spermicide.
Broccoli is considered a nutritional superfood, containing many minerals-calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc potassium, iron, sodium, and copper-as well as vitamin C and other disease-fighting compounds. Many patients want to know what's the best way to prepare it?
Broccoli is part of the Brassica family of vegetables that include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. These veggies have received lots of attention for their health benefits, especially for their potential to help prevent cancer. Polyphenolic constituents in broccoli give it antioxidant properties, fighting off the effects of free radical damage to cells in the body. It also contains glucosinolates-precursors of other substances that may help protect against certain types of cancer. Previous studies have shown that the content of these compounds can vary widely depending on how the broccoli is prepared.
This study, published in the Journal of Food Science, investigated the effect of stir-frying broccoli with different cooking oils on its nutritional profile. The broccoli was lightly cooked for just over three minutes in each of these oils: refined olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. The nutrient content of the cooked broccoli was then compared with that of raw broccoli.
Cooking with different oils didn't change the mineral content of the broccoli, but vitamin C, polyphenol, and glucosinolate levels were all affected. Peanut oil was the best at preserving broccoli's polyphenol content; extra virgin olive oil, soy, peanut, and safflower oils were best at maintaining glucosinolate levels; and extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil were best at maintaining vitamin C content.
The best way to prepare your broccoli:
* Studies have shown that lightly steaming broccoli helps to best preserve its nutritional content.
* If you are going to stir-fry your broccoli, do so for only three minutes, using either extra virgin olive oil or peanut oil.
* An alternative to cooked broccoli is to enjoy broccoli sprouts in salads and sandwich wraps. The sprouts contain 20 to 50 times more cancer-fighting compounds than the mature broccoli heads.
* According to George Mateljan, author of The World's Healthiest Foods, the activity of cancer-fighting glucosinolates can be increased by cutting the broccoli into small pieces, drizzling it with lemon juice, and letting it sit out for five minutes before cooking. This helps activate the enzyme that converts the glucosinolates into their active form.
J Food Sci 2007;72:S064-8
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: It's good to see that this research confirms the recommendations I've been making for years. Broccoli may be best raw-but some people have a difficult time with it. In which case I recommend steaming it. Which as this research shows preserves its nutritional value. And if you can find organic broccoli seeds to sprout or buy organic broccoli sprouts they make a tasty and nutritious addition to any salad.
Antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E can lower a woman's risk of cataracts, new research suggests. This is an observational study that included more than 35,000 women aged 45 and older.
"The data suggests that those people who consumed diets higher in lutein/zeaxanthin or total vitamin E may have a lower risks of cataracts," said lead author William G. Christen".
Participants who consumed the largest amounts of lutein/zeaxanthin-found in many vegetables-had an 18% lower risk of developing cataracts than the group who consumed the least. The group who consumed the most vitamin E from both food and supplements had a 14% lower risk. The study, published in the January 2008 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, found that vitamin E obtained from food alone was not enough to reduce the risk significantly. The lutein/zeaxanthin combination is most abundantly found in kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, corn, and eggs from chickens raised on pasture.
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye's lens that affects many individuals as they grow older. According to the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI), by age 80, more than half the population will have developed cataracts. Cataracts can reduce the sharpness of vision or add a brownish tint to vision. Alcohol use, diabetes, and smoking all increase the risk of developing cataracts.
The new findings are based on a follow-up of female health professionals who participated in the multi-faceted Women's Health Study. At the beginning of the study, data was collected on the amount of lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin E in each participant's diet, including their history of supplement use. Medical records were checked to verify the self-reports of cataracts from the more than 2,000 women who said they had developed cataracts. This 10-year study is one of the longest so far.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: The evidence has become stronger and stronger that nutritional treatments can have a preventive and even curative effect on the development of cataracts. I believe the key is to start as early as possible though there may be benefit even after cataracts have already developed. Periodically I get patients who have been told that they have "early" cataracts and their eyes are being watched over time to see if it gets worse. It's much better to begin nutritional support at that point rather than wait for the damage to worsen.
EXERCISE KEEPS YOU GOING
Physical exercise is known to prevent a wide variety of chronic diseases and preserves physical and mental functioning, as we get older. Now it looks like exercise also helps us live longer.
When you start a regular exercise program there are many rewards-weight loss, better sleep, a healthier heart, a more positive mood, and better concentration. If you are exercising now, odds are you will continue to do so over time. If you do you can look forward to less likelihood of dementia, a lower risk of most cancers, and slower age-related changes throughout most of the body.
Even with all these benefits of physical activity, more than 50% of Americans do not get 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days per week. These are the minimum levels recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Office of the Surgeon General. As a result of this sedentary life more than half of American adults are overweight, almost one-third are obese, and nearly 6% have type 2 diabetes.
The findings from the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest that the people who exercise at recommended levels live longer than people who don't exercise. In the study, 252,925 people between 50 and 71 years old were followed for an average of 5 years. Compared with people who did not exercise, those who met or exceeded the moderate exercise recommendation of at least three hours per week had a 27% lower death rate, and those who met or exceeded the vigorous exercise recommendation of 20 minutes three times per week had a 32% lower death rate.
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that physically fit people have a lower risk of death. This was true even for overweight individuals. In that study, 2,603 people age 60 or older underwent physical tests for fitness and were followed for an average of 12 years. The death rate among the most fit people was 75% lower than the rate among the least fit. The researchers concluded that fitness was linked to a lower death rate in people in all weight categories.
Arch Intern Med 2007;167:2453-60; JAMA 2007:298:2507-16
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: I suggest that you start with a physical activity that you love to do. And then find an exercise routine that works for you. Yoga and T'ai chi are excellent ways to maintain flexibility and build joint stability and strength. Brisk walking, fast dancing, hearty gardening, and heavy housework are some ways to get moderate physical activity. Bicycling, running, soccer, basketball, tennis, and martial arts are usually vigorous. One way to know you are getting a good workout is to exert yourself to the point where you can just carry on a conversation.
DIET AND CANCER
This study involved 2,569 patients with breast cancer, 1,031 patients with ovarian cancer, and 3,413 controls. The results indicate that a starch-rich dietary pattern may increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancers, whereas diets rich in animal products and unsaturated fats may lower the risk of breast cancer, and diets rich in vitamins and fiber may lower the risk of ovarian cancers.
Dietary patterns were identified from diet information collected using a food-frequency questionnaire. Four major dietary patterns were identified:
1) Animal products,
2) Vitamins and fiber,
3) Unsaturated fats
The highest adherence to the starch-rich dietary pattern was associated with a 34% increased risk of breast cancer and an 85% increased risk of ovarian cancer, compared to the lowest adherence.
On the other hand, the highest groups of adherence to the animal products and unsaturated fats dietary patterns were associated with 26% and 17% reduced risks of breast cancer, respectively.
Similarly, the highest quartile of adherence to the vitamins and fiber dietary pattern was associated with a 23% reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
Thus, the authors of this study conclude, "... the starch-rich pattern is potentially an unfavorable indicator of risk for both breast and ovarian cancers, while the animal products and the vitamins and fiber patterns may be associated with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers, respectively."
Nutrient dietary patterns and the risk of breast and ovarian cancers," Edefonti V, Decarli A, et al, Int J Cancer, 2008; 122(3): 609-13.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: What's most useful about this study is the clear correlation between dietary habits and cancer incidence. This goes against the common statements that many patients hear that there is no connection.
Benign ................. What you be after you be eight.
Bacteria ............... Back door to cafeteria.
Barium ................. What doctors do when patients die.
Cesarean Section ..A neighborhood in Rome.
Catscan ................ Search for Kitty.
Cauterize .............. Made eye contact with her.
Colic .................. A sheep dog.
Coma ................... A punctuation mark.
D&C .................... Where Washington is.
Dilate ................. To live long.
Enema .................. Not a friend.
Fester ................. Quicker than someone else.
Fibular ................ A small lie.
G.I.Series ............. World Series of military baseball.
Hangnail ...............What you hang your coat on.
Impotent ............... Distinguished, well known.
Labor Pain ........... Getting hurt at work.
Medical Staff ....... A Doctor's cane.
Morbid ................ A higher offer than I bid.
Nitrates ............... Cheaper than day rates.
Node ................... I knew it.
Outpatient ........... A person who has fainted.
Pap Smear ........... A fatherhood test.
Pelvis ................. Second cousin to Elvis.
Post Operative .... A letter carrier.
Recovery Room .. Place to do upholstery.
Rectum ............... Damn near killed him.
Secretion ............. Hiding something.
Seizure ................ Roman emperor.
Tablet ................. A small table.
Terminal Illness .. Getting sick at the airport.
Tumor .................. More than one.
Urine .................. Opposite of mine.
Varicose ............... Near by/close by.
I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.
Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It's a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.
To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
That's it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you've thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP