A place where I can chronicle my family's journey through cancer. A place where WE can discuss our concerns. A place where WE can inspire each other. A place for hope.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wellness Wednesdays

#12 Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not. Imitation butter – aka margarine – is the classic example. To make something like nonfat cream cheese that contains neither cream nor cheese requires an extreme degree of processing; such products should be labeled as imitations and avoided. The same rule applies to soy-based mock meats, artificial sweeteners, and fake fats and starches. Source: Food Rules by Michael Pollan

#13 Omega-3s. “Organic” meats or eggs contain few or no pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, but they are not necessarily balanced in omega-3s. If the animals have simply been fed organic corn and soy but are not grass fed or free range, their meat and eggs remain excessively rich in proinflammatory omega-6s and deficient in omega-3s. To be sure that you’re eating products of the same quality as what your grandparents ate, look for labels that specify “grass fed” or “rich in omega-3s”. Source: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

#14 Sugar. Recently, the team at the University of Sydney that introduced the concept of “glycemic index” pointed out a natural substitute for white sugar with a very low glycemic index: Agave nectar. An extract from cactus sap (used to make tequila), it tastes delicious, comparable to a light honey. It is three times sweeter than white sugar, but its glycemic index is four to five times lower than that of honey. (The glycemic index is considered “low” if it is under 55; glucose has an index of 100. The glycemic index of agave nectar is between 15 and 21, and between 60 and 80 for most kinds of honey.) Agave nectar can be used instead of sugar or the usual syrups to sweeten tea, coffee, fruits, and desserts. Xylitol, a birch-bark extract, is highly sweetening but contains only one third of the calories of other sugars. It does not cause blood sugar or insulin levels to rise, and it is the only sugar that has been linked to a decrease in the risk of dental cavities. Source: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

#15 Vitamin D. Skin cells produce vitamin D when they are exposed directly to the sun. People who live away from the equator produce less vitamin D and can sometimes be deficient. It has recently been shown that a significant supply of vitamin D reduces considerably the risk of several cancers (by more than 75% with a daily intake of 1000 international units (IUs) of the 25-hydroxyvitamin D form), in a Creighton University study published in 2007. In a Canadian pilot study of fifteen patients with prostate cancer, researchers reported on the effects of taking just 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily over a median of eight months (up to 65 months for one of the patients). Fourteen of them saw a slowing of progression of their PSA levels (the most common marker of prostate cancer, used to follow its growth over time). And these levels actually dropped significantly in nine of the patients compared to their levels at the start of treatment.

Other studies published recently have shown positive effects of vitamin D3 on breast cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. Many researchers now believe that vitamin D3 contributes to slowing down all forms of cancer, at least in the early stages. Moreover, we no know that vitamin D3 very likely protects us from colds and flu and contributes to maintaining a positive mental outlook – a precious antidote to lower energy levels during the dark, cold months of winter.

The Canadian Cancer Association now recommends a daily intake of 1000 IUs of vitamin D during the fall and winter months (because of Canada’s limited access to sunlight) and all year long to people over sixty-five years of age and those who get very limited exposure to the sun because of lifestyle or religious reasons. Take care: Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should be avoided, since some specialists have reported potential toxicity from hypercalcemia.

Remember that twenty minutes of noonday sun exposure to the entire body provides between 8000 and 10000 IUs (but beware of the risk of overexposure, which is clearly related to skin cancer).

The foods that contain the most vitamin D are cod liver oil (1,460 IUs in a tablespoon), salmon (360 IUs in 100 grams), mackerel (345 IUs in 100 grams), sardines (270 IUs in 100 grams), and eel (200 IUs in 100 grams). Milk enriched with vitamin D contains only 98 IUs per glass, an egg 25 IUs, and calf liver 20 IUs per 100 grams.

Though rare, there are possible risks associated with excessive intake of vitamin D3. Kidney stones may develop, due to excessive calcium in the urine, and hypercalceima (excessive levels of calcium in the bloodstream) may develop, which, in some very rare cases, can be lethal to people with cancer. I therefore recommend that you measure blood levels of vitamin D3 and calcium levels in blood and urine under your doctor’s supervision before you begin supplements and roughly every three months subsequently. Source: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber

Sorry. Bit of a doozy, eh? If you want to know more about the importance of vitamin D (and its connection with Multiple Myeloma), check out Margaret's Health Blog! It's Super!

#16 Meal Replacement Bars: Nutrition on the go. I thought this would be a relevant post as many of us are constantly busy with treatments and other activities.

Meal Replacement Bars: Formulated to be a meal substitute, these bars typically contain 300 to 400 calories. These are not snacks. Check out the calorie content and the nutrient density of a bar. When looking for a meal replacement, set the bar high. Look for those that contain whole food ingredients such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fruit – preferably organic. If ingredient names are unpronounceable or their true identities are unknown, take a pass on that product. To be of nutritional benefit, a bar should contain at least 5g of protein and at least 3g of fibre. Always watch the amount of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar a bar contains. This is especially important for those with health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes. High sugar content can rapidly elevate blood glucose in diabetics. However, bars that contain protein and fibre allow blood glucose to rise gradually and safely. Avoid bars that contain as much saturated fat and sugar as a candy bar. Meal replacement bars, when eaten occasionally, are a convenient, portable way to ingest an optimal amount of nutrients rather than skip a meal or resort to fast foods.

Energy Bars: Also known as sports bars, energy bars were created to improve the endurance of athletes, such as marathon runners, cyclists, or cross-country skiers. Many of these bars provide a big hit of carbohydrates. Bars that contain extra carbohydrates may benefit an endurance athlete but aren’t necessary for the average person. Some energy bars are high in carbs; others are high in protein. Strength training demands extra protein; tuck a bar in your gym bag for a post-workout snack. Look for bars that contain less than 200 calories; the goal is to boost nutrient intake and provide a balanced source of energy, not replace a meal. Avoid bars that list high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredient list.

Source: May 2010 Issue of Alive Magazine. Article by Ellen Niemer

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts about eating healthy. Thank you. I hope your Mom is doing well.