More evidence that healthy diet and exercise increase longevity in women

How to Predict Longevity in Women

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

MORE EVIDENCE THAT HEALTHY DIET AND EXERCISE INCREASE LONGEVITY IN WOMEN

A new study on longevity in women adds further evidence to what seems to be a no-brainer by now: Eating fruits and vegetables and staying active extends your lifespan. Doing either one is helpful, but this research demonstrated that those who do both last the longest.

What made this investigation stand out for me is that it was just about women. Older women in fact.  Even though women in the U.S. now outlive men by at least 5 years, few studies are done exclusively on them. But all 713 subjects in this study were women between the ages of 70 and 79.

Women and Aging

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University and published in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. It was designed to evaluate the combined benefit of a healthy diet and exercise on life expectancy since other research had shown each to have a positive impact independently of the other.

Level of activity was evaluated using a questionnaire that asked each participant the amount of time they spent doing structured exercise, household and yard chores, and leisure time activities.  That information was used to calculate the number of calories being expended by each subject.

26% were rated as ‘most active’ at the outset

21% were rated as ‘moderately active’

53% were rated as ‘inactive’ or ‘sedentary’

The quality of their diets was measured by testing the carotenoid levels in their blood. Carotenoids are compounds found in plants that serve as very good indicators of fruit and vegetable consumption.

All of the participants were then tracked for 5 years.

 Impact of Diet & Exercise After 5 Years

12% (out of the total 713) died during the 5 year follow-up

71% lower death rate among those in the ‘most active’ group compared to those in ‘sedentary’ group

46% lower death rate in women with highest carotenoid levels compared to lowest

Taken together, the women who were the most physically active and who had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive the five year follow-up period than the women with the lowest levels.

Those are good odds to take.

Lead researcher Dr. Emily J. Nickett from the University of Michigan School of Social Work concluded that after smoking cessation, “maintenance of a healthy diet and high levels of physical activity will become the strongest predictors of health and longevity.”

What are you doing to control your destiny?

 

Vegetables in jars and cans from your pantry shelf add nutritional value to salad when fresh produce is not available

9 Nutritious Salad Toppers (From Your Pantry Shelf)

Vegetables in jars and cans add nutritional value to salad when fresh produce is not available

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you love making salad from the wide assortment of fresh garden vegetables available in the summer months, your wait is almost over. But while you wait, there are many ways to add variety to your plated greens. Just turn to the jars and cans of pickled and marinated vegetables on your pantry shelf. They can offer an endless array of tastes, textures, nutrients and eye-appeal to your meals until that first rosey radish is plucked from the ground.

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9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Artichoke Hearts

Sold marinated or packed in water, both easily drained to lower the sodium content

Calories: 25 in 3 water-packed hearts or 25 per heart packed in oil and drained

Key Vitamins: C, folate

Key Minerals: magnesium, copper, potassium

Other Nutrients: cyanin and silymarin which aid liver function

Reese Specialty Foods

beets

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Beets

Sold whole, quartered or sliced with a no added salt option.

Calories: 35 per half cup sliced, 22 whole per 2 inch diameter

Key Vitamins: folate, C

Key Mineral: manganese, potassium, magnesium

Other Nutrients: betacyanin, which may protect against colon cancer

Food in Jars

corn

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Baby Corn

Sold whole and in pieces, packed in water

Calories: 6 per ear, 65 per ½ cup pieces

Key Vitamins: folate, B6, C

Key Mineral: potassium, magnesium, iron

Other Nutrients: fiber, zeaxanthin and lutein, which are good for eye health

Roland Food Company Baby Corn

 asparagus

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Asparagus

Sold whole and in pieces, in white or green

Calories: 3 per spear, 20 per half cup pieces drained

Key Vitamins: A, C, K, folate

Key Mineral: copper, manganese, selenium

Other Nutrients: carotenes and cryto-xanthins, which have anti-oxidant properties

Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

 olives

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Better Salad: Olives

Sold in different sizes ripe, cured, stuffed, spiced, and sliced; in single or mixed varieties; pitted or not

Calories: 5 each for medium size, 75 per ½ cup sliced or chopped

Key Vitamins: E, A

Key Mineral: calcium, iron, zinc

Other Nutrients: oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, needed to form cell membranes

Lindsay Olives

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 9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Mushrooms

Sold whole and in pieces; pickled, marinated or in water

Calories: 3 per whole mushroom, 22 per ½ cup pieces

Key Vitamins: D and B-complex vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pantothentic acid

Key Mineral: copper, selenium, potassium

Key Phytonutrients: ergothioneine, an antioxidant which protects the cells

The Mushroom Council

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9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Peppers

Sold grilled and roasted; whole, sliced, strips and diced; red, green, yellow and orange

Calories: 40 calories per whole bell pepper,

Key Vitamins: A, C, folate

Key Mineral: potassium, iron, magnesium

Other Nutrients: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene, which can be converted into vitamin A

B&G Peppers

sun_dried_tomato_halves_1lb_websitesize_1

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Red or yellow; marinated or in water; whole, halved or sliced; plain or seasoned

Calories: 6 per whole piece in oil and drained; 115 per half cup sliced in oil and drained

Key Vitamins: A, C, B-complex riboflavin, niacin, B6

Key Mineral: potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium

Other Nutrients: lycopene, associated with lower risks of cancer and heart disease

Tomato Products Wellness Council

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9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Onions

Sold in water, vinegar or “cocktail” style brine

Calories: 5 each small whole (size of grape), 35 per ½ cup

Key Vitamins: C, B6, folate

Key Minerals: potassium, phosphorus, calcium

Other Nutrients: quercetin, helps eliminate free radicals

The National Onion Association

Beauty secret found in fruits and vegetables has anti-aging properties

Anti-Aging Beauty Secret Discovered in the Produce Aisle

Beauty secret found in fruits and vegetables has anti-aging properties

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Finding the secret to beautiful skin as you age is as simple as turning the pages of your family album. Just look at the photographs of your parents and grandparents to find the clues to how your skin might look as you get older. That’s because genetics play a big role in the appearance of your skin.

But is there a beauty secret for those of us who didn’t inherit the gene?

Eat More Antioxidants

The quality of your diet affects every organ in your body and your skin is no exception. Proper nutrition also has an effect on the overall aging process, so eating foods that inhibit or slow down aging holds the secret to more beautiful skin as well.

The best anti-aging foods are the ones rich in anti-oxidants.

Free radicals are formed as a consequence of our daily exposure to oxygen and pollutants in the environment. If left unchecked, they damage and destroy healthy cells in the body. Antioxidants prevent that process from getting out of control. Today, our bodies cannot produce as many antioxidants as we need to control the large numbers of free radicals we form, so we must to consume more foods rich in antioxidants to supply them.

Feed the Skin From Within

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are abundant in the produce aisle. They’re easy to identify because of their rich, deep colors. In fact, the pigments of fruits and vegetables are a clue to their antioxidant content.

Research has also found that eating those colorful pigments from fruits and vegetables gives you a rosier complexion, which is associated with increased attractiveness.

Studies done at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found red and yellow plant pigments, known as carotenoids, are distributed to the surface of the skin when we eat enough of the produce containing them. Another study found the change in the skin’s color associated with eating these pigments was perceived as healthier looking and more attractive.

The changes in skin color were perceptible after six weeks when subjects ate three portions a day of the carotene-rich produce, including yams, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, peaches, apricots tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon. Those whose diets that did not include these foods became paler.

This study supports others that demonstrate diets high in antioxidants can slow the signs of aging and the development of skin cancer. But the best news of all is that it doesn’t matter who your relatives are to take advantage of this beauty treatment!

What’s your favorite recipe for beautiful skin?

What you eat affects how you thinks and feel

Feeding the Aging Mind: What Foods Keep Your Mind Sharp?

YOUR DIET CAN SLOW THE PROCESSES OF AN AGING MIND AND HELP KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Do you fear living with an aging mind more than an aging body? I do, so I’m always ready to learn more about ways to keep my mind sharp right up until my body wears out. The good news is the right diet can help keep both shape.

What Happens to as Our Brain’s Age?

The brain’s billions of neurons “talk” to one another through neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters send signals along the pathways in our brain and central nervous system. Neurons that can’t get their messages through the pathways are like cell phones that can’t get their signals through to other cell phones.

This inability of neurons to communicate effectively is responsible for most of the loss of mental function as we age.

Although people naturally lose brain cells throughout their lives, the process does not necessarily accelerate with aging. Chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes do, however, accelerate it.

The big concern today is that we are living longer, so want those neurons to last longer. Some groundbreaking research offers hope. While it was long-believed that the central nervous system, which includes the brain, was not capable of regenerating itself, studies have found the brain is capable of making new neurons well into old age, but at a slower rate.

It’s More Than Antioxidants

The antioxidants in foods have been credited with helping to save our aging brains. I’m sure you’ve seen those lists of the latest and greatest “superfoods” ranked for their antioxidant capacity. But what those lists don’t reveal is that the brain doesn’t get charged up by just one or two antioxidants found in blueberries or kale, it wants whole foods.

That is why our total diet is so important. There are compounds in the foods we eat that nutrition scientists have not yet measured and named. But it is clear those compounds have benefits beyond what we get from the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been identified. So our best bet for optimal nutrition is to eat a wide variety of minimally processed foods.

Foods That Feed the Aging Mind

Fruits & Vegetables: The more the better when it comes to raising the antioxidant levels of the blood. Keep fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice on hand to make it easier to have some at every meal and snack.

Beans & Lentils: They can take the place of meat at any meal or be used as a side dish with it. The big assortment of canned beans offers a way to have a different bean every day for weeks.

Nuts: Whether you like walnuts, almonds, pistachios or a mixed assortment is fine. Try using them as a crunchy topping on hot and cold cereals, salads, yogurt, and vegetables.

Fish: Keep the cost down with canned tuna, salmon and sardines and the right servings size. Just two 3-ounce servings a week are recommended.

Brewed tea: Green, black, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant and are rich in powerful antioxidants. Brewing your own from teabags or leaves you get the most benefit.

Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

Some Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

LOOK FOR THESE HEART HEALTHY FOODS THAT DON’T GET THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

When looking for foods that can improve your heart health, many of the ones most often recommended are either expensive, not easy to find, or are foods you don’t like. That doesn’t mean you have no chance of lowering your risk factors for heart disease through diet. The same attributes in those commonly named “heart-healthy” foods are found in many other more palatable options.

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Sardines – Salmon gets all the attention when it comes to fatty fish, but sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA you can get, and at a much lower price all year round. The oils in fatty fish help lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. A 3-ounce serving eaten twice a week is all you need.

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Black beans – Oatmeal is recognized as being good for your heart, but dry beans, like black beans, have the same benefits and are far more versatile in the diet. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed. They are also rich in phytonutrients, like flavonoids, that can inhibit the clumping of platelets in the blood. Eating ½ cup a day can make a difference.

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Raisins –Like blueberries, raisins are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and markers for inflammation. Unlike blueberries, raisins are convenient to have on hand no matter what the season. Enjoy ¼ cup as a fruit serving daily.

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Popcorn – Whole grains don’t just in the form of breads and cereals. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that improves heart health. It’s very budget friendly and a satisfying snack as long as it’s prepared without excess salt and oil.

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Milk– Most often associated with calcium, milk is also high in potassium which is maintain the fluid balance in the body and help the kidneys eliminate excess sodium. With as much potassium as a medium banana, every 8 ounce glass of fat free milk you drink is a great way to keep your heart strong.

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Plant Stanols and Sterols – These compounds are found in very small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They help block the absorption of cholesterol, but there is not enough of them in foods to get the 2 grams a day needed for cholesterol-lowering benefits. Daily use of foods fortified with stanols and sterols, such as Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange juice and Benecol spread, is an valuable way to supplement a heart-healthy diet.

White vegetables have same health benefits as more colorful ones and many culinary advantages

White Vegetables Offer Health and Culinary Benefits

WHITE VEGETABLES HAVE SAME HEALTH BENEFITS AS MORE COLORFUL ONES AND MANY CULINARY ADVANTAGES

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

There’s so much talk about the health benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables, I think the white ones get over looked. That’s too bad because they are a source of important nutrients, just like the more colorful ones, and winter is the perfect time to incorporate the many white vegetables into your meals while they are in season.

The most popular white vegetables eaten year round are potatoes, onions, and cauliflower. But the cold weather months are when parsnips, turnips, and kohlrabi should be added to your shopping list. You’ve probably seen them in the produce aisle and walked right past them in pursuit of some dark green kale or bright orange squash, but don’t be deceived by their pale hue. They are nutrition powerhouses, too.

Another way to get more white vegetables into your diet is by adding more of the aromatic varieties to your recipes. Think garlic, shallots, leek, and ginger to provide a big boost of flavor to any dish. If your salads need more crunch during the long winter months when garden is bare, turn to white jicama and Jerusalem artichokes, also known as Sunchokes. Both can be eaten raw or cooked and stored in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks.

And don’t forget mushrooms, my personal favorite! They are one of the most versatile white vegetables you can have in your kitchen. Mushrooms provide a meaty texture, the savory taste known as umami, and an important source of Vitamin D, which no other vegetable has. They are also low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium.

For recipes and information on storage and selections visit:

Fruits & Veggies More Matters

U.S. Potato Board

Mushroom Council

Compounds in raw cocoa can be good for the ehart

Does Chocolate Deliver Health Benefits?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Have you ever stopped to think about why the iconic heart we see everywhere for Valentine’s Day is the symbol of love? I did, and after a little research I learned that in ancient times people believed the heart was the center of all human emotions because it was in the center of the chest. That isn’t a very scientific explanation, but I can’t argue with it since we still don’t have a better answer.

Then I started to wonder how chocolate become part of the “love story.” If you love chocolate, you’ll be happy to learn there is a scientific connection!

The Benefits of What’s in Chocolate

First, a brief anatomy lesson. The heart is a pump that pushes blood through a network of more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels made up of arteries, veins and capillaries. Together the heart and blood vessels are referred to as the cardiovascular system and its job is to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to every cell in the body.

As we age our blood vessels become less flexible, making it harder for them to expand and contract with changes in blood flow. This can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Flavanols are naturally occurring compounds found in many plants, including the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Research has shown that when we eat certain types and amounts of these “cocoa flavanols” they can have effects on blood vessels that may help keep them more elastic and therefore make the cardiovascular system work better.

Is Eating Chocolate Good for the Heart?

Just like any other food, all chocolate is not created equal. Differences in the seeds that are planted to grow a cocoa tree, to differences in the way the cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, liquefied and combined with other ingredients to make the chocolate we know and love can affect the flavanol content of the finished products. And contrary to popular notions, the darkness of the chocolate, or percent cocoa, is not an indication of flavanol content.

At present there is evidence that cocoa flavanols can be good for our hearts. Studies have shown these flavanols can reduce the clumping of platelets that create plaque in the arteries, and may help protect against higher blood pressure and reduce levels of harmful oxidized LDL-cholesterol in the blood. And further research indicates that what’s good for our hearts is good for our brains!

The only problem is that the science is still evolving on how much cocoa flavanol we need to eat to be sure of benefits, and products made with cocoa don’t always have a meaningful amount of flavanols.

Delightful Chocolate Recipes from SPLENDA® Brand

We can still enjoy the undeniably delicious taste of chocolate just for the pleasure it brings us while following the Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations of the American Heart Association to help keep our cardiovascular systems strong. And when we prepare chocolate treats using a no-calorie sugar substitute, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, we can enjoy that chocolaty-sweet taste with fewer calories and carbohydrates from added sugar.

My all-time favorite chocolate recipe is this Chocolate Pudding Cake because it combines the comfort of a mug of rich hot chocolate with the decadent satisfaction of a warm chocolate cake. You might also want to try these Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. They’re made with ½ cup cocoa powder and are so moist and flavorful that the Rich Chocolate Frosting is optional.

For those who like their chocolate creamy and smooth, this Chocolate Pudding with Strawberries is the way to go. It’s made with skim milk and fat free whipped topping to help with reducing the calorie and fat content. And if you prefer a little crunch with your chocolate, you can whip up a batch of these Chocolate-Almond Biscotti. They’re perfect with a cup of flavored coffee at just 60 calories each.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

For more information, visit:

  • Food Timeline: Valentine’s Day Candies.
  • Bultrago-Lopez A, Sanderson J, Johnson L, Warnaakula S., Wood A., Di Angelantonio E., Franco OH. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ.2011;343:d4488
  • Corti R., Flammer AJ, Hollenberg NK, Luscher T. Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine: Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health. Circ. 2009;119:1433-1441
  • Brickman AM, Khan UA, Provenzano FA, Yeung LK, Suzuki W, Schroeter H, Wall M, Sloan RP, Small SA. Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults. Neuro. November 2, 2014; 17:1798–1803 doi:10.1038/nn.3850
  • American Heart Association. The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations.
Diet for a healthy heart also helps to keep the brain strong

Diet for a Healthy Heart is Good for the Brain

FOODS THAT HELP MAINTAIN A HEALTHY HEART KEEP OUR BRAINS STRONG, TOO

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If it seems to you the foods that can help prevent heart disease grab all the headlines, your eyesight is fine! Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women alike in the U.S., so controlling it makes news. Keeping the brain sharp is also on people’s minds, but it takes more than cross-word puzzles to do it. What you eat can also help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The good news is that the diet that’s good for your heart is good for your brain, too!

The dietary guidelines that support a healthy heart include foods that won’t clog your arteries, supply plenty of anti-oxidants, help to keep blood pressure low, and deliver lots of nutrients.

To keep your heart and brain healthy you should be eating:

  • Dark green, deep orange, yellow, red and purple vegetables and fruits, such as spinach, carrots, peaches, tomatoes, and berries.
  • Whole grains and products made from them, such as whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta.
  • Oily cold-water fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, lake trout, and herring.
  • Beans, nuts and seeds for their fiber, essential oils and micronutrients, such as kidney beans, chick peas, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seed.
  • Nonfat and low fat milk and milk products, such as yogurt and cheese.

Added Ways to Feed the Brain

Eat Fish Often –People who eat baked or broiled fish at least once a week – regardless of type – have been found to have more of the gray matter in their brains in the areas related to Alzheimer’s. Scientists believe the larger and stronger that area is, the longer it takes for the disease to destroy it. Eating fried fish was not found to provide the same benefits.

Season with Curcumin – This spice is the active ingredient in turmeric and used in Indian curries. Animal research has shown it reduces amyloid plaque, which is what accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Human studies have also found that those who ate the most curried foods had the highest scores on cognition tests.

Supplement with Vitamin B12 – Even if the diet is nutritionally adequate, certain medications and changes in digestive secretions can interfere with the absorption of vitamins needed for vital brain functions, such as Vitamin B12. Older adults with deficiencies of Vitamin B12 have been found to have smaller brains and lower scores on test measuring their memory, thinking and reasoning.

The healing powers of tea are on the calendar for January

The Healing Powers of Tea

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HEALING POWERS OF TEA DURING HOT TEA MONTH THIS JANUARY

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

It isn’t always clear who makes up these declarations, but the calendar is full of days and months dedicated to particular foods and health causes. I personally think it is a good way to focus our attention on things we can eat or do that can have a big impact on our well-being. One month at a time.

This year I plan to highlight my favorite food or health “occasions” at the start of each month so you can “celebrate” them right along with me. Who said eating well wasn’t fun!

My pick for January is the celebration of Hot Tea Month. Why not get a cup to sip while reading this?

Tea is now the most widely consumed beverage around the world next to water and the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. reports that 80% of U.S. households have tea in them.

Legend has it that tea was accidently discovered over 5000 years ago when some tea leaves blew into a pot of boiling water belonging to a Chinese Emperor who was known as a “Divine Healer.” The flavorful drink was believed to cure a variety of ailments and its use soon spread throughout China and Asia into Europe and the New World. What few tea drinkers could have known then is that the real benefits they received from this simple beverage were due to the purifying effects of boiling the water before drinking it.

Recent studies done on both Black and Green tea provide significant evidence of their health benefits. The naturally occurring compounds in tea leaves called flavonoids hold the key to many of their benefits. Just like the antioxidants found in other fruits and vegetables, the flavonoids in tea have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers while supporting the immune system and bone health. Preliminary research also suggests that drinking tea may have beneficial effects on body weight, fat accumulation and insulin activity.

While researchers continue to study the exact mechanisms by which can tea heal and strengthen our bodies, I prefer to focus on its more ethereal properties. Drinking hot tea has always involved certain rituals for me, and those rituals have comforted me in an otherwise unpredictable world. For instance, when I drink tea:

  • Water must boil and a kettle must whistle for me to enjoy a cup of tea. It cannot come from a microwave oven or hot water faucet.
  • My tea must be consumed from a bone China cup with a thin lip. No chunky coffee mugs or, heaven forbid, disposable cups, thank you very much.
  • Drinking tea makes me sit still, to possibly stare out a window or get lost in my thoughts. No chance to multitask with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot tea.
  • Drinking tea is my way to slow down, to recoup, regroup and reflect. Don’t offer me tea if I’m in a hurry, I need time to enjoy it.

Drinking tea makes me feel good. It is a ritual I participate in several times a day and feel so richly rewarded by. And now that it’s Hot Tea Month, I hope you will enjoy it, too.

Glutathione is an important antioxidant

Getting Your Fill of Glutathione

What antioxidant is found in every cell in your body and is the one produced most frequently at the cellular level? Here’s a hint: It’s often referred to as the “master antioxidant” due to the multitasking jobs it does fighting oxidation, boosting the immune system and aiding the removal of harmful toxins.

If you didn’t guess glutathione, you’re not alone.

Only 8 percent of consumers are even aware of glutathione according to research by Kyowa Hakko, one of the suppliers of the ingredient to the dietary supplement industry. But as we age our need for glutathione increases, so it’s my guess that this important antioxidant will be on the minds of more people in the years ahead.

Getting to Know Glutathione

You may not know much about glutathione because it is not considered an essential nutrient, meaning we can manufacture it in our bodies. It also may not be on your radar because early studies raised doubts about whether we could absorb it when taken as an oral supplement. But a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in May 2014 has sparked renewed interest in this antioxidant because it proved glutathione can be absorbed by the body when taken by mouth.

Researchers at Penn State University conducted a 6 month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 48 healthy adults, ages 30-791. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 250 mg or 1000 mg Setria glutathione per day or a placebo. Levels of glutathione were measured in different blood components and in biomarkers of oxidative stress at the beginning of the study and after 1, 3 and 6 months, then again after a 1-month washout period.

Glutathione levels in the blood were higher when tested at each interval compared to baseline for both doses. A reduction in oxidative stress was also seen in both groups based on decreases in the oxidized to reduced glutathione ratio in whole blood after 6 months. Levels of glutathione then returned to baseline a month after supplementation ended, suggesting long-term oral supplementation with glutathione may be effective in maintaining body stores.

Where to Find Glutathione

Just like most other foods rich in antioxidants, the best sources of glutathione are fresh fruits and vegetables. Freshly prepared meats are also a good source, while dairy foods, grains and highly processed foods are not.

Results from of two studies that measured dietary intakes of glutathione by Americans found a wide range due, in part, to losses that occur during food processing2,3. Based on these studies, it is estimated most Americans get less than 60 mg day from food sources.

The level of glutathione in different tissues of the body also varies widely, so it is difficult to estimate actual requirements, but it is known that our need increases with normal aging, health problems, medication use, excess weight, cigarette smoking, and alcohol abuse. Environmental conditions such as pollution and exposure to other toxins further increase our need for glutathione.

Why Do We Need Glutathione?

While breathing is essential to life, it is also a major cause of aging due to the oxidation of the cells that occurs with every breath. If cells become damaged by oxidation, free radicals are formed that can attack the body and cause disease. That is why antioxidants, like glutathione, are so important. They protect us against the damaging effects of these free radicals, which in turn, helps to promote a healthy immune system.

In addition to fighting free radicals, glutathione helps the kidneys and liver do their job of detoxifying the body by binding to ingested toxins so they can be excreted. And it is found in the lining of the entire gastrointestinal tract where it can neutralize toxins before they are absorbed.

It is impossible to know whether we produce enough glutathione to get the protection it can provide, but we do know our dietary intake can be erratic and many factors of modern life – including normal aging – increase our need. Doses of 3 grams per day of glutathione have been used experimentally with no adverse effects4, but taking 150-250 mg per day of supplemental glutathione appears to be reasonable a way to insure your needs are met.

Disclosure Statement: I was compensated for my time to write this blog by Kyowa Hakko, an international health ingredient manufacturer, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

REFERENCES

  1. Richie JP Jr, et al. Eur J Nutr. 2014 May 5. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24791752
  2. Flagg EW et al. Am J Epidemiol. 1994;139(5):453-65
  3. Jones DP et al. Nutr Cancer. 1992;17:57-75
  4. Witschi A et al. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1992;43(6):667-69