Myth-busting: FIV – Katzenworld

What you need to know about FIV or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) The RSPCA lifts the lid on FIV, what it is, how it is caught and what an FIV cat needs. FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus) is a viral infection that affects cats. It causes affected animals to have a weaker immune system in comparison […]

Source: Myth-busting: FIV – Katzenworld

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Best Plant-Based Foods to Help You Retain Iron

onegreenplanet.org
By Chelsea Debret

Eating a primarily plant-based diet has many incredible benefits including healthy weight loss and management, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and even a reduced risk of cancer. With that said, one of the hurdles that plant-based dieters face, especially strict vegetarian and vegan practices, is a condition called anemia, in which “your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body” due to insufficient iron levels.

For those that suffer from this condition, how do you continue to uphold your plant-based eating values, while also maintaining overall health? You’re in luck! There is a range of plant-based foods that help the human body retain iron and avoid anemia altogether.

What is Iron?

Hemoglobin, iron-rich proteins moving through the body

qimono/Pixabay

Let’s take a deep dive into what iron is and what it does for your body. In its basic form, iron is simply an essential mineral. Once absorbed, iron-rich proteins called hemoglobin attach to oxygen and are carried throughout the body. Via this transport vessel, iron is carried to tissues throughout the body producing energy (referred to as myoglobin), as well as playing a crucial role in removing carbon dioxide. Iron is also an incredibly important nutrient for brain development and overall growth of babies and children.

One misconception regarding iron is that the only reliable source is found in animal products such as “meat, seafood, and poultry.” The truth is that there are actually two types of iron that can be absorbed from food called heme and non-heme. While heme iron is meat-based, non-heme iron is said to be accountable for 85 to 90 percent of your total iron and can be absorbed via plant-based foods including “spinach and beans, grains that are enriched, like rice and bread, and some fortified cereals.”

The Relationship between Iron and Anemia

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First off, anemia isn’t relegated to plant-based dieters. In fact, anemia is the most common blood disorder in the United States affecting over three million people for a variety of reasons including pregnancy, infections, chronic diseases, and poor diet, to name just a few risk factors.

So, what exactly is anemia?

There are a handful of incredibly serious types of anemia including aplastic anemia, a rare bone marrow failure disorder; hemolytic anemia, when red blood cells are broken up and therefore unable to carry iron-rich protein to the necessary tissues; and sickle cell anemia, when hemoglobin protein is abnormal. The most common type of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia, which occurs “when you don’t have enough iron in your blood.” If you’re given a diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia it means that you don’t have enough hemoglobin (those iron-rich proteins). Basically, your body lacks oxygen. People with anemia generally experience dizziness, shortness of breath and overall weakness, headaches, chest pain or irregular heartbeat, or less obvious symptoms such as cold hands or feet and pale skin.

Luckily, the human body is designed to self-regulate the appropriate levels of iron via absorption. If you’re looking to give your body a helping hand, the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for iron vary depending on age and gender. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 are recommended an intake of 18 milligrams, while a male over the age of 19 is recommended 8 milligrams.

Plant-Based Foods that Help Absorb and Retain Iron

Sponchia/Pixabay

It’s not just about an iron-rich diet. While you may stock up on those plant-based sources of iron, such as spinach and legumes, it’s also important to account for your body’s ability to absorb and retain the iron you’re consuming. Luckily, there are a few nutrients readily available in plant-based food products that help your body retain that essential iron!

Vitamin C

pasja1000/Pixabay

Vitamin C is an acid, more specifically an L-ascorbic acid, that is not produced by the human body and therefore must be consumed via diet or supplements. While vitamin C is popular for its immune boosting properties, this vitamin is oh so much more! Vitamin C is “required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters,” is part of protein metabolism, is an “essential component of connective tissue” and wound healing, and is also an antioxidant. It has also been shown to help the body absorb and retain iron by capturing the plant-based iron (non-heme), transforming it into a more absorption friendly form, and stores it for use.

While this may incline you to stock up on oranges, there are a host of vitamin C-rich plant-based foods that are lower in sugar content. These include dark green and leafy veggies such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red and green bell peppers, chili peppers, melons, strawberries, and other citrus fruits. Try out a few of these vitamin C-rich recipes: Spicy Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Breadcrumb, Strawberry and Raspberry Jam, Dark Chocolate and Orange Pecan Loaf, or Sunflower Seeds and Brussels Sprouts Pesto.

Vitamin A and Beta Carotene

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Vitamin A is not just one nutrient, but a “group of fat-soluble retinoids, including retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters.” Yet, when it comes to consumption via diet, there are only two forms of vitamin A: preformed vitamin A (retinol and retinyl ester) and provitamin A carotenoids. Vitamin A begins as beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment found in plants, which is then transformed into vitamin A when consumed. While it’s most widely-known as essential for healthy vision, vitamin A is also involved in immune function, cellular communication and growth, and reproduction, as well as the “formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.” Recent studies have also illuminated a connection between vitamin A and the efficacy of iron. The Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research discovered that vitamin A and beta-carotene actually enhanced the absorption on plant-based iron (non-heme), specifically from wheat (by 80 percent), rice (by 200 percent), and corn (by 140 percent).

When upping your plant-based sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene think orange and red foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, squash, red peppers, apricots, and peaches. Vitamin A-rich recipes are plentiful for plant-based dieters including staples such as these Sriracha Sweet Potato Chips, salads like this Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad With Almond Dijon Vinaigrette, vegan burgers such as Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burger, and fruit-based desserts like Apricot Bars.

Supplements

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With all that goes on in your daily life, it’s often a challenge to fit all the necessary nutrients into your waking hours. This is where supplements become a great and quick source to get some of those essential vitamins that you may be lacking. If you’ve been diagnosed as anemia or on the verge of anemia, it’s a great idea to take iron supplements. With that said, you can also increase how efficient iron supplements are by integrating absorption and retention supplements such as such as this Garden of Life Non-GMO Vitamin C supplement, or this Bronson Vitamin A 10,000 IU Premium Non-GMO Formula.

With thousands of archived plant-based recipes, the Food Monster App makes it incredibly easy to incorporate those iron-absorbing foods! The app is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/best-plant-based-foods-to-help-you-retain-iron/

Lead Image Source: Shutterstock

Diet Soda May Be Hurting Your Diet

ecowatch.com
The Conversation

By Eunice Zhang

Artificial sweeteners are everywhere, but the jury is still out on whether these chemicals are harmless. Also called non-nutritive sweeteners, these can be synthetic—such as saccharin and aspartame—or naturally derived, such as steviol, which comes from the stevia plant. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved six types of artificial and two types of natural non-nutritive sweeteners for use in food.

That’s been great news for those working hard to curb their sugar consumption. Aspartame, for example, is found in more than 6,000 foods worldwide, and about 5,000-5,500 tons are consumed every year in the U.S. alone.

The American Diabetes Association—the most well-respected professional group focusing on diabetes—officially recommends diet soda as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. To date, seven U.S. municipalities have imposed a sugary beverage tax to discourage consumption.

However, recent medical studies suggest that policymakers eager to implement a soda tax may also want to include diet drinks because these sweeteners may be contributing to chronic diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as well.

Why are These Sweeteners Calorie-Free?

The key to these virtually calorie-free sweeteners is that they are not broken down during digestion into natural sugars like glucose, fructose and galactose, which are then either used for energy or converted into fat.

Non-nutritive sweeteners have different byproducts that are not converted into calories. Aspartame, for example, undergoes a different metabolic process that doesn’t yield simple sugars. Others such as saccharin and sucralose are not broken down at all, but instead are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine.

Theoretically, these sweeteners should be a “better” choice than sugar for diabetics. Glucose stimulates release of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body no longer responds as well to insulin as it should, leading to higher levels of glucose in the blood that damages the nerves, kidneys, blood vessels and heart. Since non-nutritive sweeteners aren’t actually sugar, they should sidestep this problem.

Artificial Sweeteners, Your Brain and Your Microbiome

However, there is growing evidence over the last decade that these sweeteners can alter healthy metabolic processes in other ways, specifically in the gut.

Long-term use of these sweeteners has been associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes. Sweeteners, such as saccharin, have been shown to change the type and function of the gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms that live in the intestine. Aspartame decreases the activity of a gut enzyme that is normally protective against Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, this response may be exacerbated by the “mismatch” between the body perceiving something as tasting sweet and the expected associated calories. The greater the discrepancy between the sweetness and actual caloric content, the greater the metabolic dysregulation.

Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: FDA

Sweeteners have also been shown to change brain activity associated with eating sweet foods. A functional MRI exam, which studies brain activity by measuring blood flow, has shown that sucralose, compared to regular sugar, decreases activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain involved with taste perception and the experience of eating.

Another study revealed that longer-term and higher diet soda consumption are linked to lower activity in the brain’s “caudate head,” a region that mediates the reward pathway and is necessary for generating a feeling of satisfaction. Researchers have hypothesized that this decreased activity could lead a diet soda drinker to compensate for the lack of pleasure they now derive from the food by increasing their consumption of all foods, not just soda.

Together these cellular and brain studies may explain why people who consume sweeteners still have a higher risk of obesity than individuals who don’t consume these products.

As this debate on the pros and cons of these sugar substitutes rages on, we must view these behavioral studies with a grain of salt (or sugar) because many diet soda drinkers—or any health-conscious individual who consumes zero-calorie sweeteners—already has the risk factors for obesity, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease. Those who are already overweight or obese may turn toward low-calorie drinks, making it look as though the diet sodas are causing their weight gain.

This same group may also be less likely to moderate their consumption. For example, those people may think that having a diet soda multiple times a week is much healthier than drinking one case of soda with sugar.

Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: CDC

These findings signal that consumers and health practitioners all need to check our assumptions about the health benefits of these products. Sweeteners are everywhere, from beverages to salad dressing, from cookies to yogurt, and we must recognize that there is no guarantee that these chemicals won’t increase the burden of metabolic diseases in the future.

As a physician of internal medicine specializing in general prevention and public health, I would like to be able to tell my patients what the true risks and benefits are if they drink diet soda instead of water.

Legislators considering soda taxes to encourage better dietary habits perhaps should think about including foods with non-nutritive sweeteners. Of course, there is an argument to be made for being realistic and pursuing the lesser of two evils. But even if the negative consequences of sugar substitutes doesn’t sway our tax policy—for now—at least the medical community should be honest with the public about what they stand to lose or gain, consuming these foods.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.

https://www.ecowatch.com/diet-soda-health-risks-2624805533.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=c669446345-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-c669446345-86074753

Cutting Out Bacon And Booze Could Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer By 40%

delish.com

By Lindsay Funston

We already know that the best things in life—fatty bacon, crisp beer, greasy cheeseburgers—are also the worst things for us. But we eat them any way; everything in moderation, right? Welp, not exactly. Ditching bacon and booze from our diet could reduce your risk of cancer up to 40 percent, according to major new findings from the World Cancer Research Fund.

The WCRF’s research surveyed more than 50 million people and this year focused more on specific dietary recommendations than ever before. The researchers urged people to eat moderate amounts of red meat, limit consumption of soft drinks and processed foods—especially meats, like bacon—and reduce drinking.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers also recommend ditching fast food and sugars from our diet, so… 2019 is looking bleak.

https://www.delish.com/food/a25706304/cutting-out-bacon-booze-cancer-study/?source=nl&utm_source=nl_del&utm_medium=email&date=123118&src=nl&utm_campaign=15479352