Monday, July 18, 2011

Martha's Minute: Food for Life

Nutrition 101


If there were a drug that could turn off all the disease-promoting genes and could turn on all the health-promoting, anti-aging genes, would you take it?

In "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" (May 2007), there was a study done on nutrigenomics. The basic idea is that food is information, not just calories.

In this study, researchers from Finland took two groups people with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) and gave each group a different diet. It was different ONLY in the type of carbohydrates they consumed for 12 weeks. The rest of their diet was identical — the same calories and the same amount of fat, protein, carbohydrate, and fiber.

The first group had wheat, oats, and potatoes as the source of their carbs.  The second group ate rye as their source of carbohydrate.   In Dr. Mark Hymen's book, UltraMetabolism, rye has some very special properties because it is slowly absorbed by the body and has phytonutrients that help you lose weight and improve metabolism.

After the 12 weeks, the researchers took a fat sample or biopsy and analyzed it to find out which genes were turned on or off.

So what happened?

In the wheat, oat, and potato group, 62 genes were activated that increased inflammation, oxidative stress, and the stress response, worsened blood sugar balance, and generally amplified all of the forces in the body that lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease! It was a 100 percent effect — NO good genes were turned on.

In the rye group, 71 genes were turned on that prevent diabetes, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar control. This was a 100 percent GOOD gene effect.

So back to our initial  question - If there were a drug that could turn off all the disease-promoting genes and could turn on all the health-promoting, anti-aging genes, would you take it?

You won't see ads on TV telling you to eat more whole-kernel rye bread! The good news is you don't have to see your doctor, get a prescription, nor buy a drug (not to mention all the side effects that come with the drug) to get these benefits. You can simply start adding some rye to your diet!

Here are some findings from a few other key studies that are worth noting:

– Supplementing with conjugated linoleic acid (a special fat from meat and dairy fats) caused a modest loss in body fat. It also may prevent cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.
– Long-term fish consumption protects against arrhythmia or irregular heart beats.
– Eating a diet high in monounsaturated fats from olive oil can help reduce blood pressure while a high refined-carbohydrate diet can increase blood pressure.
– Combining fish oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise helps improve body composition and reduce heart disease risk factors (lower triglycerides, higher HDL).
– Women need more choline (a nutrient that is needed for cell membrane formation and to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine necessary for brain function) after menopause or are at risk of liver and muscle damage.
– If women with HIV are given a multivitamin, they have less anemia and their children also have less anemia.  Anemia in HIV is associated with a much faster rate of disease progression and death.
– In Bangladesh, where arsenic poisoning is common, giving folate, vitamins B12 and B6, choline, and niacin reduced the toxic effects of arsenic.
– People who eat more meat and saturated fat have a higher risk of skin cancer.

So what are we to learn from all these studies?

If you hear from your doctor that eating better and taking supplements has no “real” scientific evidence to support it, ask them if they have read the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” lately.

It is also interesting to note that the main medical journals publish mostly positive studies on drugs and mostly negative studies on nutrients, foods, and herbs.

So we encourage you all to beware when someone tells you there is no research to back up the use of food or nutrients as the primary mode of treatment of disease and prevention of chronic illness. The evidence is overwhelming — just ignored.

(The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2007, Compliments of Dr. Mark Hymen, Kallio P, Kolehmainen M, Laaksonen DE, Kekalainen J, Salopuro T, Sivenius K, Pulkkinen L, Mykkanen HM, Niskanen L, Uusitupa M, Poutanen KS. Dietary carbohydrate modification induces alterations in gene expression in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue in persons with the metabolic syndrome: the FUNGENUT Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1417-27)

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