Written by Jana Nalbandian, ND
More great news about the Mediterranean diet! We know a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds along with fish lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Now cancer prevention can be added to the long list of health benefits with eating a nutrient rich Mediterranean style diet. A recent meta-analysis (combining 16 studies) indicates that olive oil in high amounts can decrease the risk of breast cancer. They have identified a component of olive oil that can cause the death of cancer cells and inhibits cancer growing pathways.
We already know that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, provide a rich source of cancer preventing nutrients including lycopene in tomatoes, glucosinolate and indol-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables and the anthocyanins in fruits to name a few. Along with fruits and vegetables, the major source of protein in the Mediterranean diet comes from fish high in omega-3 oil, with minimal intake of agricultural red meat. The diet tends to be low in refined carbohydrates including sugars and processed foods.
So what does this mean for the average Alaskan? We have an abundant source of omega-3 rich seafood, especially wild Alaska salmon, along with seasonal, locally grown vegetables including greens. Instead of your typical clear/polyunsaturated oil (they are carcinogenic), switch primarily to olive oil for cooking and dressings. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day along with 1-2 servings of complex whole grains or yams/sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds (unroasted and unsalted) and lean proteins with a focus on seafood. To top it all off, resveratrol found in red wine is a strong anti-oxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting cancer cell growth when drank in moderate amounts. Bon Appétit
Did you know you carry approximately 100 trillion microorganisms in your intestines? These microorganisms make up a complex, interdependent ecosystem. They can be both helpful and/or harmful. The “good” bacteria perform beneficial functions such as enzyme production, extracting energy and nutrients from food, interaction with the immune system, and prevention of pathogens. Your gut also hosts “bad” bacteria that release toxins that are released into the bloodstream. These toxins are associated with a number of illnesses.
More recent research indicates that your gut “flora” has many systemic effects. It not only affects your digestive health but it may also affect sleep patterns, mood, weight gain, and even rheumatoid arthritis (see link below for a study published by NHI).
The foods you consume feed these microorganisms. A diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables encourages a healthy flora. Probiotics are also a great way to encourage a healthy gut. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are found in kefir, yogurt, and supplement form, help to foster and feed a healthy flora. Diets high in sugar and processed foods will feed the “bad” bacteria rather than promoting the “good” bacteria. In addition, frequent use of broad spectrum antibiotics can wipe out the gut flora and cause an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria. While antibiotics serve a purpose, it is often at the expense of your intestinal health.
Protect your gut and overall health by optimizing your diet, minimizing stress, and ensuring plenty of sleep. A balance gut flora will dramatically help your overall health and well being.
Check out some recent research on gut flora:
Announcement: Annual Free Screening for Women
Providence Imaging Center is having their annual Free screening program for women May 6-9. The exam includes a breast exam and screening mammogram. Providers and patients can call 212-3151 for details.
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The Alaska Dept of Regulations has submitted proposed changes that would limit the scope of practice for naturopathic doctors in the State of Alaska. This would limit NDs' ability to "prescribe" many dietary supplements that are the basis of many treatment plans. This is a giant leap backwards and we need to let the Department of Regulations know how we feel.