A 7-year follow-up study from France published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science this April showed that a higher vitamin D intake was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study that followed a group of elderly women ( average age 79.8 years) for 7 years found that those who consumed the least amounts of vitamin D were at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers explained two possible mechanisms of action:
- In previous studies, vitamin D has been linked to hippocampus protection in rodents. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for consolidation of short-term memory into long-term memory and spatial navigation. It is one of the first areas of the brain to be affected during Alzheimer’s disease.
- Vitamin D may play a role in influencing the production and clearance of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. Beta-amyloid deposits have been associated with increased brain cell damage, cognitive decline and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers also pointed out that the potential benefits may be due to the nutritional content of vitamin D-rich foods namely fish which are rich in omega-3.
We all know that Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but where can it be found in foods and how can we ensure we are getting enough?
The body needs 5 micrograms or 200 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day.
- Twenty minutes of daily exposure to the sun are enough for the body to manufacture vitamin D. However, during winter months and whenever the sunshine is weak, the body is not making enough of the vitamin and we have to resort to foods and supplementation. Start wearing sunscreen for any time spent beyond the twenty minutes.
- Fish, egg yolks and dried shiitake mushrooms are the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
- Good sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and beverages such as milk, fortified soy, rice and nut beverages and margarine. Below is a table with natural and fortified sources and the percentage daily value (%DV) of vitamin D. 5mcg= 200IU= 100%DV
|Herring, 3 oz
|Salmon, canned, 3 oz
|Halibut, 3 oz
|Cod liver oil, 1 tsp
|Catfish, 3 oz
|Oyster, 3 oz
|Dried Shiitake mushrooms, 4
|Sardines, canned in oil, 1/2 cup
|Tuna, canned in oil, 3 oz
|Shrimp, 3 oz
|Fortified Sources (check the labels/ DV on label is stated per serving)
|Fortified Tofu, 1/5 block
|Cow’s milk, 8 oz
|Fortified rice milk, 8 oz
|Fortified soy milk, 8 oz
|Fortified orange juice, 8 oz
|Fortified cereal, 3/4 cup
- As with any kind of supplementation, it is better to get a blood test to determine your body’s levels and check with your doctor for a prescription. Most adult multivitamins contain 400IU of vitamin D. The amount varies between brands in the supplements that contain vitamin D alone or calcium and vitamin D.
For a list of other foods that can help improve your memory, you can check an earlier post on the subject.
For a summary of the study, you can check Nutra Ingredients -USA.
Spring is here! Time to reap the benefits of the great outdoors; mountain hikes, seaside walks, beautiful sunshine and fresh air!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who are celebrating today especially to my mom! Please allow me to say a few words on this day to the woman who made me who I am today before sharing the recipe.
I just want to thank you mom for always being there for me, for teaching me how to read and enjoy a good book. Thank you for teaching me to enjoy life and not to sweat the small stuff, for showing me how to stand back up when things don’t go as planned. Thank you for instilling in me the appetite for food, adventure and life. Thank you for teaching me how to cherish my health and love and accept myself for who I am. For all those things and much more; for all the times you kissed away my tears and the times you laughed at my silly jokes, thank you Mom. I love you.
My mom loves anything lemony or with a remotely lemon flavor in it, so for Mother’s day, even though we are miles away, I baked her these cupcakes. ( I promise I’ll make them again when I go back home ). The recipe is adapted from James Martin for BBC Food.
Ingredients ( 11 cupcakes)
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 lemons, zest only
For the drizzle
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, sieve the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir lightly. Do not overmix.
Lightly grease your muffin tins or line with baking cups. Add your batter and bake for 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your drizzle if you want by mixing the sugar and the lemon juice.
Once the muffins are done, leave them to cool slightly before adding the drizzle on top.
Nothing better than the smell of lemons to greet Spring and to wish mummies everywhere the best day ever!
Bon appetit !
Posted in Random, Recipes
Tagged baking, cupcakes, easy, food, lemon, lemon zest, mother's day, muffin tins, muffins, recipe
“Rubor, tumor, calor, dolor”, it’s red, swollen, warm and painful. That’s what the medical world uses to describe inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response to infection or injury. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases including some kinds of cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
As much as it pains me to talk about cancer, “knowledge is bliss” and we cannot ignore that it exists and that we can, to a great extent, do something about it. We all carry cancerous cells, but luckily, our body has its own defenses to prevent these cells from turning into the malignant disease. These defenses include immune processes, foods and lifestyle factors that reduce inflammation.
What are the causes that have been found to aggravate inflammation and inhibit immune cells?
- Consumption of a traditional Western diet including fried foods, high fat meats, refined sugars and flours (white sugar, corn syrup, bagels, donuts…)…
- Depression, stress, feeling of helplessness, holding grudges, repressing emotions, social isolation,
- Sedentary lifestyle where you engage in less than 2o minutes of physical activity per day
- Cigarette smoking and pollution
What are the factors that have been linked to protect against inflammation and encourage the immune system?
- Following a Mediterranean diet, Indian and Asian cuisine, which are high in fruits and vegetables, olive oil, legumes, anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, and omega-3 rich foods.
- Taking control of one’s own life and managing stress
- Active lifestyle that includes a minimum of a 30 minute walk 6 times a week
- Living in a clean environment
What do all these mean and how can we implement an anti-inflammatory lifestyle?
Clean up your diet
- Reduce the consumption of sugar which feeds the inflammation including refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, desserts, soft drinks, and other hidden sources of sugars such as sauces and ketchup…
- Replace white flour, white rice and white pasta with whole-wheat varieties and whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, spelt,…)
- Reduce consumption of omega-6 fatty acids present in sunflower oil, corn oil, margarines, hydrogenated fats,…
- Increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids including fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed and purslane…
- Try to consume organic products including meat, eggs, poultry, vegetables, fruits and grains. The vegetables and fruits that are most important to be consumed organic were discussed in an earlier post. The meat should be used as an “accessory” to dishes and not take center stage.
- Include daily any of the anticancer foods: herbs and spices ( turmeric mixed with black pepper and olive oil for maximum absorption, mint, thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary, curry, ginger, cinnamon), onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, parsley, celery, mushrooms ( shiitake, cremini, enoki, portobellos,…) cruciferous vegetables ( broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage), vegetables rich in beta-carotene ( carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, tomatoes, beets,..), spinach, fruits ( berries, cherries, oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, apricots, pomegranate juice…), green tea and red wine in moderation.
- For desserts, prefer dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), fruits and if you want to add some sweetness use agave nectar or stevia.
- Practice breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques.
- Practice yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi,..
- Reach out to family and friends. Don’t underestimate the human need for social bonding. Facebook is OK but physical contact is so much better .
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most of the days.
- Get in the sun for 20 minutes each day for vitamin D. Be careful not to sit in for more without proper protection.
Clean your environment
- Avoid pesticides and insecticides.
- Avoid as much as possible chemical cleaning products.
- Avoid parabens and phthalates in cosmetics.
- Avoid exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) that can leak from linings of cans and when heating certain plastic containers.
- Throw away scratched Teflon pots and pans.
- Aerate your clothes once you bring them home from the dry-cleaning.
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and industrial pollutants.
- Lower as much as possible your exposure to the radiomagnetic fields of cell phones. Use a headset instead.
Lifestyle changes can win over your genes. You owe it to yourself at least to live a long and healthy life. Even though at a first glance the above list can be daunting and intimidating, taking small steps and changing one or few things at a time till they are second nature will work just fine.
The above tips are all taken from Dr. David Servan- Schreiber’s Anticancer book (which I highly recommend) where he combined his own experience with hundreds of research articles about the cancer epidemic, inflammation and the diet and lifestyle changes that could have an effect on our quality of life.
Posted in Nutrition and Health
Tagged anti-inflammatory foods, anticancer, asian, cancer, diet, exercise, food, health, indian cuisine, inflammation, lifestyle, meditation, mediterrenean, pollution, relaxation, rheumatoid arthritis, Schreiber, stress, walking, western diet
The weather is getting warmer and soon enough you may want to enjoy an open-air buffet brunch with friends or you may start to get invitations to events and weddings where the food is served buffet style. What can you do to stay safe and avoid overeating?
Food safety and hygiene first!
- Don’t touch the food with your hands. Use the assigned cutlery for each dish only. So, for instance, don’t use the same spoon for a hot dish then a cold one in order to avoid cross-contamination.
- Check that the cold dishes are kept in the refrigerator or placed on ice, and that the hot dishes are kept over a heated buffet server at a temperature above 60 degrees Celsius (140 F).
- Use a clean plate for every time you go to the buffet (They shouldn’t be many anyway!).
- Avoid sushi, raw clams, unbaked desserts and similar foods if you don’t know how long they have been sitting there without proper refrigeration.
- Be careful with salads and salad dressings especially those that are mayo-based.
- Trust your senses. Food can look and taste good and still cause food poisoning, so if it looks unusual or suspicious don’t even taste it!
Avoid the “All you can eat” trap second!
- Drink a glass of water before the meal. It will help you feel fuller faster.
- Don’t starve yourself. Have light meals throughout the day and you’ll avoid eating everything in sight when the buffet time comes.
- Ask yourself: What are the foods that will make me feel satisfied and wholesome as opposed to sluggish and overly full? If it weren’t ”eat all you can”, what would I choose? If I were ordering a la carte, what would I have eaten?
- Use a dessert plate instead of a larger one. You would be practicing good portion control and tricking your mind into thinking you are getting more.
- Skip the breads and butter on the table.
- Start with the salads, grilled vegetables and lean meats first.
- One study showed that people who put all they wanted to eat, including dessert, on one plate tend to eat 14% less than those who put smaller amounts and went for seconds.
- If you want to have dessert, choose only one. If you had more savory options, choose fruits for dessert. However, if you had your eye since the beginning on the chocolate-fudge cake, go easy on the main dish. It’s an issue of balance and moderation.
And always remember, you don’t have to finish your plate and you don’t have to go back for seconds!
Posted in Nutrition and Health
Tagged avoid overeating, buffet, food, food hygiene, food poisoning, healthy-living, nutrition, restaurants, tips, travel, vacation
I was watching an antacid advertisement the other day and wished I could show the marketing people a piece of my mind. The guy in the ad was sitting in front of a huge family sized meal platter suffering from heartburn. Then, with … Continue reading