Monthly Archives: July 2006

Flax Seed: Save your life at State Fair this Week

Flax Seed:  Save your life at State Fair this Week!

Competency #12  Fiber and 14 Superfood

Reference: Flax Seed Booth at Wisconsin State Fair

A super food at State Fair!  I must have lost my mind.  Cream puffs, bar-be-qued ribs, funnel cakes, ice cream sundaes, corn dipped in butter.  None of those make the list.  In fact, each of those have reason to be on the all star list of deadly foods.

But Flax Seed is also at State Fair.  In the Exposition Building, Aisle 900, right in the middle is a booth selling flax seed and teaching you all about its benefits.  I’ve been eating flax seed for three years now and so should you.  In fact, I’m deadly serious about starting to eat flax seed.  And it really can save your life.   Here is how and why.

Flax has three very potent separate components.  The first component is the highest measured source of omega fatty acids in a plant based food.  Nearly 40% of the calories come from what’s called ALA, an omega three fatty acid.  It is a fragile molecule and spoils quickly once exposed to light and oxygen.  Hence, it’s hard to sell commercially.  One of the unintended “mega-trends” of industrial farming in the 20th century is the radical change in our diets away from fresh foods containing omega-3 fatty acids to foods with long shelf lives and many omega-6s.  With that mega-trend, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in our diet has changed from a 1:2 ratio a hundred years ago, to a 1:20 ratio today.  Adding flax seed, freshly ground, back into your diet will help reverse that trend and bring your body’s essential oils back into balance.   Our body can’t make omega-3s or 6s so they are almost like vitamins and crucial to us for good health.  (Did you know that your brain is 40% omega fatty acids?)

Component number 2 is FIBER.  We Americans eat less than 15 grams of fiber a day.  It’s been known for almost a 100 years that populations with 50 grams of fiber a day have a virtual absence of many of our modern illnesses.  Notably, colon cancer, diverticulitis, gallbladder disease, appendicitis, and then coronary artery disease to boot all dramatically decline with a high fiber diet.  In America, all our research has failed to show a benefit of fiber.  That’s because the highest fiber content anyone in America eats is 25 grams a day.  Newer research has begun to show that if you can get yourself to 40 grams a day, you will dramatically improve your odds against getting many of our modern ills.  How?  All that fiber moves your system along, causing you to “lose” a lot more bile acids, which are made from cholesterol.  So you lower your cholesterols.  You also lower your glycemic response to foods, and soften your blood sugar response.  So, yup – high fiber diets also dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes.  How much fiber in flax seed:  ¼ cup = 15 grams!  Be careful if you start.  For a day or two, you might feel a bit more, shall we politely say, “active”.  You’ll get used to it.

The final golden nugget are LIGNANS.  Again, flax is number 1 by far as a source of lignans.  These are natural estrogens that our bodies appear to crave.  (Fancy name is secoisolariciresinol digloside (SDG)) The literature is early but there is probably real reason to believe that flax may be a great source to help hot flashes, prostate cancer and all the same aging decline processes that soy seems to help.  They have antioxidant qualities as well as antibacterial and antifungal qualities.  Those properties seem to help preserve the flax seed.  Better, they seem to help preserve you and me.  Stay tuned on this topic.  Lignans are a fascinating class of chemicals and I’m waiting for a good review.

So, enjoy your outing to State Fair.  Limit your vice to just one cream puff.  Wipe the full fat Wisconsin whipped cream off your face and head over to the Expo center (Center of Aisle 900).  Tell Anne and Jac Horner that John sent you.  Buy their flax cookbook.  Try their free sample of pineapple juice and flax.  Add more good years to your life.

WWW: What will work for me?  I eat a quarter cup of flax a day on my whole grain warm cereal each morning.  I purchased the Flax Cookbook at State Fair and intend to learn some more recipes.  Make it a journey.  Learn one recipe you can add flax

Flavor and Variety: The Cutting Edge on Managing Your Diet

Flavor and Variety:  The Cutting Edge on Managing Your Diet

Competency # 5  The Way to Eat

Reference:   The Flavor Point Diet by David Katz

Our brain likes variety.   Flavors are pleasant and fun.   If you stop to think about it for a minute, you will realize that you can validate this for yourself.  If you eat any one flavor or food, you will tire of it after a while.  (This does not relate to chocolate fudge ice cream at 10 pm)  As a general rule, think about any one food and ask yourself, how much you would eat given a large supply of it.  If I just fed you mashed potatoes….or just green beans, or just boiled eggs…..  You would tire after 4 boiled eggs, and stop.  You meal would have been much smaller.

Now think of Thanksgiving dinner.  Twelve different dishes.  You eat one for a while.  Get full on that one.  Switch to the stuffing.  Back to the turkey.  More sweat potatoes.  You can stuff yourself to a much greater degree if you eat one after another.  How about a Chinese lunch buffet?  Indian restaurants have magnificent lunch buffets.  I can eat some of all 18 dishes.  Three trips through the line, no problem for me.

There is a science to this. (Emerging and not widely accepted: but this newsletter is about the cutting edge and what’s new)   It has been researched in rats.  The “Sensory-specific satiety” center in your hypothalamus gets stimulated with each new flavor group.  It signals when it’s sated with one flavor.  Most of its response happens in the first few bites.  Then it fades away.  The more diverse a meal becomes, the more we can pack in because we switch from flavor to flavor.  Sweet, salty, sour, protein, back to sweet.  We’ve all had the situation when we eat till we are stuffed, and still have room for dessert.  Sweet flavors always inspire a strong response.  So you can save it to last and still find room.   It’s hard to find ethics committees who approve putting probes into human hypothalamuses, so equivalent research in humans is difficult.  But your experience speaks to its validity.

There is also proposed scientific evidence about satiety being related to volume and weight.  We eat to a certain volume and mass.  To a certain degree, we are bonded with that volume.  That means we have choices.  We can eat foods that are very dense in calories, and get a lot of calories in that volume.  Or we can choose lower density foods.  But the choice is ours and these two tools can give you knowledge how to manage your own eating habits.

WWW.  What will work for me?  This changes my thinking.  I am trying to reduce the variety of foods at my meals.  And lower the calorie density.  That way I get fewer calories, still feel full, and am satisfied.  Cut out the deserts.  Copy the Chinese and Indians and serve fruit after a meal.  And if you are really pining for that ice cream, just have one teaspoon of it.  That’s what satisfies your brains receptors anyways.  The rest of it is just late night compulsive eating.

Reference:  This is a blatant advertisement for a really good book.  David Katz is just a genius about this.  He is a Yale University researcher on obesity and has just written a book called “The Flavor Point Diet”.  Add that to your summer reading list.  His wife is Catherine Katz is a PhD and chef who adds great recipes to support these ideas.  Or just follow the ideas I outlined.

Pour it On! What is it about water?

Pour it On!  What is it about water?

Competency # 5  The Way to Eat

Reference:  Nutrition Action Health Letter, June 2006

You need water.  There are lots of recommendations out there that we don’t drink enough and that you ought to drink more.   We patiently lug around our huge glasses of water and sip away all day long.  Does it help you lose weight?  Are you getting enough?  Are Americans dehydrated?  Does it make you feel full?  Or sleepy?

What I know is this.  Your kidneys love to make dilute urine.  You are getting enough fluids if your urine is clear.  Dilute urine looks clear.   If it’s yellow, you are getting a little dry and your body is conserving water by concentrating your urine.  If your urine starts to have a burning quality and looks darker when you pee, you are likely very dehydrated.  It has been known and measured that eating lots of salty foods, or a large meal will make you shift fluids into your gut to process all that stuff.  Your body puts into your small bowel the equivalent in fluid volume of about 70% of your body weight each day.   Then it absorbs it back.   To digest properly, you need lots of water to work with.   And if fluids are in your intestine, they aren’t in your blood stream circulating to your brain.  A large salty meal will make you feel sleepy.  Being a little dehydrated or tired may very well be a sign that you are a little dry.  Try it.  If you feel fatigued and worn out, a large glass of water will often, by itself, feel like a pick me up.  How about 2 pm every day when you have the dwindles at your desk.  A good glass of water right there might perk you up.    In hot weather, you can get quite dry just by the sweat you make without your even being aware of it.  You can avoid heat stroke completely by drinking ahead of time.  The Israeli army does just that.  Drink lots ahead of time before you play golf when it’s 95 degrees, and you’ll make it just fine.  But his is all old news.

Last month in Nutrition Action, there was a wonderful review about the amount of fluids we should or shouldn’t drink, and the consequences of what’s happened to Americans in the last 25 years from the fluids we do drink.  What has happened is that we have had a HUGE shift to sugared sodas and fruit juices.  Fifty years ago, virtually no one drank any sugared drinks.  Now, we all drink about 400 calories a day in sugared fluids. (9% of our total calories)  If you take that out a year at a time, that many extra calories can add up to a weight tain of as much as 40 pounds a year.   As part of that mix, we had added sugared fruit drinks to our diet.  Again, more calories and more pounds.

What is new and cutting edge is the science of appetite suppression.  The Nutrition Action article is a wonderful review about that with lots of nice questions and answers.  What I learned, and the nugget for today is that liquid calories DO NOT SATISFY OR SUPPRESS your appetite.  What you drink isn’t counted by your brain as calories.  It just slips under the radar screen and ends up on your hips and belly.  When you drink calories, you don’t feel it is food.  What is also interesting, is that soup doesn’t have that effect.  In fact, eating a soup course in a meal will reduce your total calories.  Why the boundary between soup and liquid fruit juice, we can’t say.  Drinking full sugar soda may give you a caffeine effect.  If that’s what you need, drink coffee.  It’s a great chemical.  No harmful effect and lot’s of research to show it.

What Will Work for Me?  This is simple.  Drink water.  Or diet soda.  STOP THE SUGARED soda if you want to control your weight.  And stop the sugared fruit juice.  Stop feeding your kids the sugared fruit juice.  Eat the whole fruit and get the fiber and the appetite effect. Your weight as a child predicts your weight as adults.  Water is sufficient.  More of it may be better for you.  Try it, you’ll like it.

And to Subscribe to Nutrition Action (Something you all should do –it’s THE BEST nutrition newsletter out there, you can get it by going to  http://www.cspinet.org/nah/)