Monthly Archives: May 2006

Vitamin D: New Data on Reducing Cancer Risk

Vitamin D:  New Data on Reducing Cancer Risk

Competency # 12 (Old List) #17 (New List) Vitamin D

Reference:  Journal of Cancer Epidemiolog Biomarkers. Prev 14. 2898, 2005.   American Journal of Public Health:  Feb 2006

You know that Vitamin D is the only Vitamin that your body makes itself.  In effect, that makes it not quite a vitamin, as the definition of a vitamin is that you need it from an outside source.  The outside source we need is sunshine, something sadly lacking for 6 months in Wisconsin.  But now, the Vit D season is upon us.  It’s time to take off the hat and shirt and get out in the sun this coming Memorial Day weekend.  In 20 minutes of sunshine, your body will make 20,000 U of Vitamin D, which it will hang on to and use for about a week.  Plan on at least 20 minutes of sunshine in midday broken up into 5-minute pieces here and there each week, and you will keep your body in optimal health.

And what are the specifics of Optimal Health we are aiming for?  It’s not just bones anymore.

Recent references to Vitamin D in the news are the following:

1.  From the People’s Pharmacy Radio Show (90.7 at 11 am on Sundays) Walter Willet, Professor of Nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health, stated that we need to readdress the current amount of Vitamin D in our diets.  Out vitamin pills only give us 400 IU a day. Milk only gives us 100 IU a glass.  He referenced the emerging data that 2,000 IU a day starts to have anticancer effects.  He also referenced that with summer coming, we didn’t need to take it as a vitamin if we could allow ourselves to be sensibly exposed to bright sunshine without allowing ourselves time to burn. (< 15-20 minutes)

2.  Journal of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers. Prev 14. 2898, 2005.  Research study following 68,000 women found that women in the northern states had a 20% reduction in breast cancer between those who had the most and those who had the least Vit D.  This supports a large European study last year that found similar 25% differences in incidence between Scandinavia and Italy.

3. American Journal of Public Health:  Feb 2006.  “Role of Vit D in Cancer Prevention”  Review of 63 observational studies of Vit D and cancer concludes that taking up to 2000 IU a day is safe and has marked anticancer effects across a wide spectrum of cancer.

Vitamin D works by making cells mature into fully mature cells of whatever type they were intended to be.  It also works by slowing tumor blood vessel growth, tightening cellular connections, and assisting the normal programmed cell death.   All of these lower the abnormal uncontrolled growth of cancers.

WWW.  What Will Work for ME?  The stuff is free!  Park far away from your job, enjoy walking 5 minutes in the sunshine to work and get 5 minutes of sunshine twice a day just in going to work.  I’ve stopped taking my supplement pills.  I’ll get my flowers in the garden this weekend.  And after 15 minutes, I’ll put on a hat and some sunscreen.  If your skin type is darker, you need proportionately more sunshine: up to 5 times as much to get similar D production.  And you don’t have to worry about the skin cancer, like lightly pigmented skin types do.  So enjoy!

The 20 Core Competency Standards

The 20 Core Competency Standards

Competency # 1 – 20

What You Should Know

The 20 Core Competency Standards

1.  Know Thyself:  Your BMI

(wt in lbs)/(Ht in inches)2  x 703  =  < 25 or BETTER: Your Waist to  Hip Ratio < .9 for men, .85 for women. Waist size  Men < 37,  Women  < 31.5

2.  DASH Diet:  Dietary Alternatives to Suppress  Hypertension

a.   9 servings of Fruits and Vegetables/day

b.   3 servings of dairy/day

c.   two 3 oz servings of white meats

d.  beans, little oil, rare sugar

3. Portion control: Knowing a serving and meal size

4. Eat Breakfast and other good eating habits

5. Understanding the Glycemic Index

6. Fiber:

7. Brain Health

8. Good Fats and Bad Fats

9. Avoiding Trans Fats

10. Avoid Fructose: Be a “Sugar Buster”

11. Eat For Color:  Flavonoids

12. Vitamin D: The New Supervitamin

13. Other Vitamins: Folate and the Busy Bs

14. Supplements:  Which should you take?

15. Nutrition Density Score

16. Snacks and Bingeing and other Hidden Behaviors

17. Eating Out Tips

18. Making a safe nutritional environment: why exercise is part of it

19. Interpreting food labels

20. Cooking for optimal health: choosing, substituting and managing good food

a.  How to shop for the best nutrition

b.     Learning Other Cuisines: Chinese, Indian, African, Caribbean,  Japanese, Mediterranean

WWW:  What Will Work for Me!  I’m working on much of this list myself.  My first step is succeeding.  My waist size did not get bigger this year.  Hurray.   I would love to lose weight, but what the heck, I at least broke even.  And each day I count my fruit and veggie servings.  So, competency one and two have a start with me.  How about you?

Whole Grains Have to be Whole: Not “Made From Whole”

Whole Grains Have to be Whole: Not “Made From Whole”

Competency # 12 FIBER

Reference:  Nutrition Action Newsletter May 2006

Everything is now labeled, “Made from Whole Grains.”  However, when I look closely I can’t see the chunks of grain.  What’s going on?  What is it about whole grains that is so important?  Here is the straight inside story.

First of all, for those of us who are happy with a straight admonition to just do it, the new FDA food guidelines that came out last year say that we ought to eat half of our carbohydrate intake in the form of whole grains.  As careful and obsessive as I am, I rarely find a food that qualifies unless I make it myself.  We live in a sea of advertising about food that is made from whole grain.  How do I get 2-3 servings a day of whole grains?

First, let’s talk about how you can avoid and detect the deception.  Then, we will review the studies that give you the evidence.  Our bodies evolved eating very coarse grains, when they were available.  We have big heavy molars to chew on the coarse whole grain.  The grains themselves evolved with a tough outer coating to avoid being chewed.  We call that fiber.  They wanted to survive the journey through our guts so that they could sprout and grow.  The net effect is that our metabolism is used to slowly digesting very coarse grains.  The protective fiber on the outside of the grain dramatically slows digestion.  Your blood sugar responds very slowly as your gut gradually processes the grain product with its protective coat.

It’s easy to tell if you are really getting WHOLE grains.  You have to be able to see the chunks.  The chunks should have a brownish coating: that’s the fiber.  The inside is white.  That’s the carbohydrate (sugar).  And yeast doesn’t work on chunks, so your whole grain product really can’t be too closely related to bread.  Whole grains have to be whole to get the full benefit.  Most whole grain bread is 95% wheat flour with a few pieces sprinkled on top.

Then, along comes modern milling.  We take the whole grain and turn it into powder.  We call that powder flour.  We bake it into bread.  In our stomachs, that bread is rapidly digested, turns into sugar in our blood, and rapid rises in sugar result in insulin releases.  Our food processing companies want to get credit for using a whole grain, which they do, so they emphasize the fact that you are getting the fiber and the vitamins from the whole grain product.  That’s true.  What they fail to mention is that once it has been ground into powder, the speed with which it is digested is dramatically changed, and it is that speed of digestion and processing that we are finding appears to make some difference.  Flour products have high glycemic indexes: i.e. your sugar goes up fast.

Looking only at the speed of digestion and its current method of measurement, we haven’t been able to prove that low glycemic foods necessarily result in better health outcomes.  But the following associations with large longitudinal studies and dietary habits suggest strongly that eating the whole grain is markedly better for you.

Iowa Women’s Health Study: 34,000 women: those who eat one serving of whole grain a day have a 30-36 % lower risk of heart disease.

Nurse’s Study: 75,000 nurses.  Those who ate three servings of whole grains a day had a 25 % lower risk of heart disease and a 36 % lower risk of stroke compared to those who ate none.

Health Professional’s Study:  44,000 men: those eating 42 grams of whole grain a day (3 servings) had an 18% lower risk of heart attack.

This news article is too short to give all the details.  But if you want to read more, the current issue of Nutrition Action has an excellent article that also talks about the antioxidants, the insulin, diabetes and constipation: all of which are also improved.

What Will Work for Me:  I make my whole grain cereal each day.  And I try to find whole grain foods at the grocery.  Pick and Save had none last week.  Sendiks and Outpost both had 3 and 4 offerings.  Visit those stores.  Learn new recipes.  It’s all for our hearts and our metabolism.