Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

Koreans seem quite calm despite living in a state of perpetual tension on the Korean peninsula. Maybe their huge consumption of Kimchi has something to do with it.

Koreans seem quite calm despite living in a state of perpetual tension on the Korean peninsula. Maybe their huge consumption of Kimchi has something to do with it.

Anxious about that big date, crucial meeting or family gathering?

You may want to prep with a cup of yogurt: a promising new study in Psychiatry Research has found that people who eat more fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, and kimchi, have fewer social anxiety symptoms. But note, some of these foods, such as kombucha – a fermented tea popular in the Far East and Russia – have had adverse health reactions in some people.

Researchers surveyed more than 700 people and found that the more fermented foods participants ate the less likely they were to experience social anxiety – anxious feelings of distress that interfere with daily social interactions. Even wilder is that this benefit was greatest among people who had the highest rates of neuroticism, a personality trait characterised by anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, and loneliness.

What makes those foods so powerfully calming? Based on this study alone, the authors can’t say for sure, but previous research points the finger at probiotics, the good-for-you bacteria found in fermented foods. “Social anxiety has gastrointestinal symptoms,” says lead author Matthew Hilimire, assistant professor of psychology at the College of William & Mary, “and probiotics have been shown to reduce gut inflammation. So as the gut becomes less inflamed, some of those anxiety-related symptoms are reduced.”

Eating probiotics has also been shown to affect brain chemistry in a major way, triggering a neurotransmitter called GABA that calms the nervous system – the exact same neurotransmitter targeted by anti-anxiety drugs like Valium, Hilimire explains. The researchers hope that fermented foods could someday be a low-risk treatment for anxiety.

If you don’t want to live on yoghurt or plough through masses of sauerkraut (which wouldn’t be a problem for Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink, but Lord above it’s a problem for anyone sleeping in the same bedroom) the simplest solution might be to trial some of the many probiotics supplements now freely available.

We have long suspected that reducing “inflammation” in the system is a key way to not only improve mood but also defer illnesses like cancer. As in all things, a balanced diet seems the most sensible approach. The ancient Chinese concept of the body becoming “over heated” through the consumption of certain foods may end up being shown to be worthwhile.

chinese pharmacistChinese medicine is, indeed, interesting. On a business trip there many moons ago we were struck down with the most miserable dose of a cold or flu which then settled on our chest, and we ended up feeling very sick indeed.

Travelling alone we really didn’t have the faintest idea what to do, so wandered into a traditional Chinese chemist, full of herbs and potions and things that didn’t really bear too close an examination. The man in the white coat took one look at the hacking, sputum-fountain of a guailo in front of him and sold us a bottle of obscure liquid which as soon as we started quaffing it back at the hotel made us feel remarkably better.

So much better, in fact, that instead of discarding it when we recovered, we took it home and showed it to our GP, telling him how wonderful Chinese medicine is, and we should eat the stuff in Australia.

He asked his Chinese-speaking assistant to decipher the label, then turned back and smiled drily. He said it was hardly surprising that we felt on top of the world when quaffed it, as he strongly suspected the stuff was about 80% morphine. He quietly disposed of it in his office bin.

Read, mark learn and inwardly digest. Or don't, if you see what we mean.

Read, mark learn and inwardly digest. Or don’t, if you see what we mean.

 

Many, many moons ago, years ago now, the Wellthisiswhatithink household decided to stop eating margarine, especially polyunsaturated margarine, and to resume eating butter.

We stopped using soybean oil (like Canola) for cooking, and starting using fat-saturated coconut oil or monounsaturated olive oil instead.

In the case of the writer, Dear Reader, one’s cholesterol level and blood pressure fell. Our cholesterol level fell substantially, actually.

With the passion of the newly-converted we told everyone we knew that polyunsaturated oil turns into trans-fatty acids at body temperature – let alone when cooked –healing-miracles-coconut-oil-third-edition-bruce-fife-paperback-cover-art and that trans-fatty acids were deadly to humans.

We also told them repeatedly of the healing miracle that is coconut oil, which we discovered quite by chance when we were employed to write the marketing letter to get people to buy the book, which we devoured almost as enthusiastically as we did the product.

We recommend the book. A must read if you’d like to avoid a bunch of nasty modern illnesses.

Anyhow, within the last few months, scientists have caught up. Suddenly researchers all over the world are on the bandwagon for butter.

Well, we hesitate to say we told you so, but, we told you so.

Ponder this:

Alternatively, use butter. The manufacturing process essentially amounts to "Milk cow, churn milk."

 

Alternatively, use butter. The manufacturing process essentially amounts to “Milk cow, churn milk.”

Sugar under a microscope, in more ways than one ... this is actually sugar cane in its raw form.

Sugar under a microscope, in more ways than one … this is actually sugar cane in its raw form.

It gives you a rush, messes with your mind, and always leaves you wanting more – and now researchers are calling for the government to regulate the sweet stuff like a drug.

1. STRESS EATING

For a pick-me-up, you may feel the urge to inhale a bag of M&M’s or wolf down a box of cookies. But the impulse goes deeper.

To examine the hold sugar can have over us, substance-abuse researchers have performed brain scans on subjects eating something sweet.

And what they’ve seen resembles the mind of a drug addict: when tasting sugar, the brain lights up in the same regions as it would in an alcoholic with a bottle of gin. Dopamine – the so-called reward chemical-spikes and reinforces the desire to have more. (Sugar also fuels the calming hormone serotonin.)

No wonder you reach for the choccies or a slice of mud cake when you’re feeling down.

THE FIX

In times of stress, dieters are more likely to binge, studies conclude. That said, a cookie once in a while (say, twice a week) is fine, but on most days go instead for oatmeal with brown sugar, suggests Jeffrey Fortuna, Ph.D., a health and behavior lecturer at California State University, Fullerton. The whole grains fill you up and the sweetness is just enough to release that useful serotonin.

2. INEXPLICABLE WEIGHT GAIN

You stay away from burgers and drink diet soda. But sugar – both real and artificial – is the secret saboteur. When the pancreas senses sugar, the body releases insulin, which causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen for energy. Eat too much at once, though, and insulin levels spike, then drop.

 The aftermath? You feel tired, then crave more sustenance to perk up. And pretend sugars don’t help.

“Artificial sweeteners travel to the part of the brain associated with desire but not to the part responsible for reward,” says Dr. Gene-Jack Wang, a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. Nor do they trigger the release of the satiety hormones that real sugar does, so you’re more likely to consume more calories.

THE FIX

Feed sweet cravings with fruit (the fiber will help keep insulin in check, too), and substitute sparkling water for diet soda. If you must indulge, go for a small snack made with real sugar, and eat it slowly. Add fruit or yogurt to feel fuller and prevent a crash.

3. BRAIN FOG 

Blanking out in the middle of a meeting?

Research out of the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that sugar forms free radicals in the brain’s membrane and compromises nerve cells’ ability to communicate. This could have repercussions in how well we remember instructions, process ideas, and handle our moods, says Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Ph.D., author of the UCLA study. 

THE FIX

Stay under the USDA limit of 10 teaspoons (40 grams) of added sugar a day.

Read labels and available nutrition information at the supermarket or fast food outlet: a 16-ounce Starbucks vanilla latte and a typical bagel will max out your day’s allotment of sugar. A wiser choice: black coffee and plain yogurt with antioxidant-rich blueberries and walnuts, sweetened with honey.

4. AGING SKIN

Sugar causes premature aging, just like cigarettes and UV rays do. With young skin (generally under 35), when skin support structures collagen and elastin break down from sun or other free-radical exposure, cells repair themselves. But when sugar travels into the skin, its components cause nearby amino acids to form cross-links. These cross-links jam the repair mechanism and, over time, leave you with premature – permanent – wrinkles.

THE FIX

Once cross-links form, they won’t unhitch, so keep sugar intake to as close to zero as you can. “It’s the enemy,” says Dr. William Danby, a dermatologist with Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire. Avoid fizzy drinks and processed pastries and if you’re scattering sugar on your dessert try cinnamon instead – it slows down cross-linking, as do cloves, oregano, ginger, and garlic.

5. A SLUGGISH WORKOUT

Muscles need sugar for fuel, so carbs (which break up into glucose, a type of simple sugar) can kick-start your morning jog. But fruit or prepackaged snacks touting “natural sweeteners” contain just fructose, which is metabolized in the liver, not the muscles. The result: a bloated tummy, or even the “runs”.

THE FIX

A glucose-packed snack with just 4 to 8 grams of fructose – it’ll help increase glucose absorption, says Dr. Richard Johnson, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver. Try a sports drink like Gatorade or nuts with dried fruit an hour before your workout.

In short: sugar bad. Bad, bad, bad. Remember that processed foods are jam-packed with the stuff, even foods that are touted as “healthy”.  Like all these things, it’s about being aware, alert, and sensible.

Never eating a chocolate again would be a miserable existence. Eating them all the time is a guarantee of one.

See also: Could you name the signs of diabetes? What everyone should know.

Looks awful good though, dunnit?

Looks awful good though, dunnit?

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Boston Globe Magazine featured a profile of Harvard professor Walter Willett, calling him the “world’s most influential nutritionist.” Willett’s influence comes as much from his ability to debunk or reframe studies about food and nutrition as it does from his original work.

In the long and very interesting article, Globe writer Neil Swidey mentions a recent study of Willett’s that was released in June: a new look at the 123,000 people involved in a 20-year study ending in 2006 found elevated red-meat consumption to be linked with an increase in diabetes.

According to the study, conducted by Willett and his colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health, participants who ate at least a half serving more red meat over a four-year period were 48 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in the following four years. Conversely, those who lowered their meat consumption by more than half a serving per day decreased their diabetes risk. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Previous studies have connected red meat intake with an increased risk of diabetes, but Willett’s study was the first to show that eating more meat raises a person’s risk — and vice versa.

Not surprisingly, the meat lobby strongly refutes such claims—“nothing to see here, folks!”—and frequently attempts to dismiss studies that are critical of meat. And there’s little doubt that they have skillfully made the case that eating red meat has beneficial effects, too.

To cut or not to cut, that is the question ...

To cut or not to cut, that is the question …

“While some recent studies have generated headlines linking meat to different ailments, it is important to remember that conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes are complex conditions that cannot simply be caused by any one food,” American Meat Institute spokesman Eric Mittenthal told the media.

Fair enough: and on the FAQs page of MeatPoultryNutrition.org, a site run by an industry lobby group called the American Meat Institute, are urgings for readers to not give up their meat: “The wisest course of action is a balanced diet, weight control, plenty of exercise and a healthy degree of skepticism about the ‘study of the week,’ ” the site reads. Well, few people could argue with that.

But Willett’s four decades of research and consistently reliable findings are difficult to dismiss wholesale. And while he admits further study is necessary to account for lifestyle and other health factors, Willett and his colleagues believe the strong connection found between red meat and diabetes warrants people cutting back on their consumption of beef, pork or lamb (giving up meat on Mondays may be a good place to start, depending on your opinion).

Of course, if Willett’s findings hold true, the result of a less meat-centric diet may be a reduction in the instances of diabetes, which has skyrocketed in recent years. And that would be great news indeed.

(From Yahoo and other sources)

20130719-122627.jpg

Oh. Great news.

http://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/news/fish-oil-and-prostate-cancer-risk

Then again:

http://m.qt.com.au/news/prostate-warning-a-little-fishy-says-prof/1946326/

It is only a matter of time, I am telling you, until they announce that cholesterol was good for us all along …

Click this link to read a fun article called Stop Sausaging Around from See! Travel Mag.

I love the little story I have highlighted above, because it is all about sausages. In this case, German sausages, specifically. Go read that article then come back here 🙂

Sausage maker

You put the smergle in the kefuptnik, hit the guntraager button, unt out comes the wassenwitchit in one long line. Yumbo.

I love sausages so much I recently spent $250 on a genuine sausage maker.

I even bought proper pig’s intestine to form the casing of the sausages, not that horrid plastic stuff that commercial sausage makers make.

Then I went and sourced superb pork belly from the best butcher in Melbourne, and added in all the spices I wanted, following the recipes I had downloaded from the internet to the letter.

Mein Gott In Himmel! Do you guys have ANY idea how bad sausages are for us? They are little tubular fat and cholesterol BOMBS!

I ate them with one finger on my pulse, anxiously checking to ensure the pump was still beating. And that was the only time I made sausages. I will do so again, but I am letting my system adjust. I think it will be safe to eat another sausage in about, oh, say three months? I have even reduced my supermarket trawl for them, which could often lead to me eating sausages every day for a week. (And never getting bored.)

The home-made heart-stoppers were bloody delicious, mind you.

Actually, reading back, I think the only thing I can say is “Don’t play the sore liver sausage”  you wuss. Hang the risk, get sausage making again. Hmmmm. Tempting.

Anyhow, how brilliant is it to have a culture like the Dear Old Deutsch where sausages are so prevalent they even have sayings about them?

Actually, there’s an Aussie saying called “Sink The Sausage”  come to think of it. Not to mention “Hide the Baby Salami”.

English: Sausages, seen in Covered Market, Oxford.

Sausages, seen in Covered Market, Oxford. (Wikipedia)

They mean about the same thing. I’m sure you can work it out.

And now I’ve included them in this article, you can guarantee my story on sausages won’t get Freshly Pressed. Hey ho.

By the way, NEVER prick sausages to release the fat.*shakes in horror*

Defeats the whole purpose of making them. The trick to the puuuurfect sausage is to cook it slowly, turning constantly, over a low heat, until it is thoroughly cooked through and gently browned. Never pierce it with a fork or knife tip. Apart from losing lots of lusciousness, red hot pork fat in the eye hurts.

OK – I want to know YOUR favourite sausage, Dear Reader. Lincolnshire? Cumberland? Chicken with Chives? Duck with orange and sage? Italian? Or your favourite really silly sausage story. Or your best home-made sausage recipe – and if it’s good, I promise I will make a batch and post photos.

Yes, I think I will make some more sausages. Life’s too short. If I suddenly stop posting, you’ll know I have had a coronary, and life got even shorter. F*** it, eh?