Posts Tagged ‘hormones’

My Mom Made Me Fat

If it hadn’t been for the Big Macs that Joannie ate three times a week, she wouldn’t have gotten fat. But, if she hadn’t been exposed while in her mother’s womb to chemicals x, y and z, Joannie wouldn’t have had the propensity to get fat. And if Joannie’s mom had eaten more sensibly, both waistlines would be slimmer.First Lady Michelle Obama has, admirably, put her weight pun intended behind a campaign against obesity. But it’s a mistake to limit the remedy to better food and more exercise. Fat people most likely are programmed to become fat before taking their first sip of milk. The manmade chemicals we encounter every day are responsible for this reprogramming.Two of three U.S. adults are now classified as overweight. Type II diabetes has increased in like measure over the same decades, and so has heart disease. This is not a coincidence. These illnesses share common characteristics: they are triggered while in the womb by exposure to the same kinds of chemicals and the outcomes show up in adulthood. Scientists now call this pattern “the fetal origins of adult diseases.”The most likely culprits are chemicals now grouped together under the rubric “endocrine disrupters.” It’s been known for about two decades, though disputed by the manufacturers, that these chemicals alter the normal signaling pathways of hormones. They knock normal development off track. Bisphenol A BPA is right now the nation’s most celebrated endocrine disruptor.Pesticides are often endocrine disruptors. It’s just been discovered that a family of pesticides that’s among the most widely used in the world is connected to the three adult illnesses of obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease. This is the family of organophosphates, concocted from petroleum with an addition of phosphoric acid.

When lab rats are exposed to these pesticides through the mothers’ diet, at a time in their development equivalent to a human baby’s second trimester in the womb, their metabolism changes in two ways: their cholesterol and triglycerides rise. These abnormal and lasting changes are exactly the major factors that predict and lead, later in life, to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular heart disease (specifically, atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty material collects along the arteries and hardens artery walls).

These changes in metabolism happen at low levels, within the levels we are uniformly exposed to, which the Environmental Protection Agency declares as “safe” but are evidently not.  The changes are the strongest when the mother rats are fed a high-fat diet.  Human babies may even be underweight at birth (and there’s an epidemic of underweight babies in the U.S.), but quickly become overweight

Humans run into these pesticides in our food and water.  Of course, children continue to be exposed once they are born and are in fact exposed more than adults because they eat and drink more in relation to their body weight and have a higher ratio of skin. The other groups of people exposed most to organophosphates and other pesticides are the same groups with the highest rates of obesity – people who live in run-down inner-city neighborhoods, the poor, and farmworkers.  Again, not a coincidence but a connection, a trigger.

Dr. Ted Slotkin of Duke University, the researcher responsible for these discoveries, found another compelling clue: exposure caused harm to the rodent’s brain, as well as its metabolism.  Once the exposed lab animal was born and started to eat at will, its consumption of a high-fat diet reduced the adverse symptoms in its brain.  As Dr. Slotkin muses, “If you’ve got neurofunctional deficits, and they can be offset by continually eating Big Macs, then you will naturally (but unconsciously) select that kind of food because it will make you feel better.”  Unfortunately, increased fat will further harm the animal’s, or human’s, metabolism.

What this means for you? Particularly while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, while nursing, and for your children: avoid pesticides, eat organic foods.

For information about endocrine disruptors, read the new booklet published by the nonprofit Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative.

via My Mom Made Me Fat | Care2 Healthy & Green Living.

Top 15 Cleansing Foods

When it comes to cleansing your body of harmful toxins, food really is the best medicine. You’ll be amazed to learn that many of your favorite foods also cleanse the body’s detoxification organs like the liver, intestines, kidneys, and skin, preventing harmful toxic buildup. Help ward off the harmful effects of pollution, food additives, second-hand smoke, and other toxins with delicious fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and beans.

Apples. Because apples are high in pectin, a type of fiber that binds to cholesterol and heavy metals in the body, they help eliminate toxic build up and to cleanse the intestines.

Avocados. We rarely think of avocados as a cleansing food but these nutritional powerhouses lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least thirty different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals.

Beets. Time to whip up some delicious borscht soup since its main ingredient, beets, contain a unique mixture of natural plant compounds that make them superb blood purifiers and liver cleansers.

Blueberries. Truly one of the most powerful healing foods, blueberries contain natural aspirin that helps lessen the tissue-damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while lessening pain. Blueberries also act as antibiotics by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They also have antiviral properties and help to block toxins from crossing the blood-brain barrier to gain access to the delicate brain.

Cabbage. Cabbage contains numerous anticancer and antioxidant compounds and helps the liver break down excess hormones. Cabbage also cleanses the digestive tract and neutralizes some of the damaging compounds found in cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke). It also strengthens the liver’s ability to detoxify.

Celery and Celery Seeds. Celery and celery seeds are excellent blood cleansers and contain many different anti-cancer compounds that help detoxify cancer cells from the body. Celery seeds contain over twenty anti-inflammatory substances. It is particularly good for detoxifying substances found in cigarette smoke.

Cranberries. Cleanse your body from harmful bacteria and viruses that may be lingering in your urinary tract with cranberries since they contain antibiotic and antiviral substances.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil. Loaded with essential fatty acids, particularly the Omega-3s, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are essential for many cleansing functions throughout the body.

Garlic. Eat garlic to cleanse harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites and viruses from your body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also helps cleanse build-up from the arteries and has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. Additionally, garlic assists with cleansing the respiratory tract by expelling mucous build-up in the lungs and sinuses. For the health benefits, choose only fresh garlic, not garlic powder, which has virtually none of the above properties.

Grapefruit. Add a ruby red grapefruit to your breakfast to benefit from pectin fiber that binds to cholesterol, thereby cleansing the blood. Pectin also binds to heavy metals and helps escort them out of the body. It also has antiviral compounds that cleanse harmful viruses out of the body. Grapefruit is an excellent intestinal and liver detoxifier.

Kale. Steam some kale to benefit from its powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds that help cleanse the body of harmful substances. It is also high in fiber, which helps cleanse the intestinal tract. Like cabbage, kale helps neutralize compounds found in cigarette smoke and strengthens liver cleansing.

Legumes. Add a handful of cooked beans to your next meal since they loaded with fiber that helps lower cholesterol, cleanses the intestines, and regulates blood sugar levels. Legumes also help protect the body against cancer.

Lemons. Excellent liver detoxifiers, lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C, a vitamin needed by the body to make an important substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps the liver detoxify harmful chemicals. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (not the bottled variety) to pure water to support your cleansing efforts on a daily basis.

Seaweed. Seaweed could be the most underrated vegetable in the western world. Studies at McGill University in Montreal showed that seaweeds bind to radioactive waste in the body. Seaweed also binds to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. In addition, they are powerhouses of minerals and trace minerals.

Watercress. If you haven’t tried watercress add this delicious green to your next sandwich since it increases detoxification enzymes and acts on cancer cells in the body. In a study at the Norwich Food Research Centre in the United Kingdom, smokers who were given 170 grams of watercress per day eliminated higher than average amounts of carcinogens in their urine, thereby eliminating them from their body.

Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables assists with detoxifying harmful substances from your body. Who knew cleansing could taste so good?

Adapted with permission from: The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan by Michelle Schoffro Cook (John Wiley & Sons, 2006). Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook.

via Top 15 Cleansing Foods | Healthy and Green Living.

5 Foods For Clear Skin

By Melaina Juntti, Natural Solutions

Jodi Frestedt breezed through her teenage years without so much as a pimple. While most of her peers suffered their share of embarrassing breakouts, Frestedt never gave her skin a second thought as she posed for school pictures and primped for prom. But at age 26, her face erupted in a slew of blemishes, leaving her baffled and suddenly self-conscious.

Frestedt’s situation is far from unique. Although we’d all like to think our acne days are behind us once we leave high school, breakouts affect some 54 percent of women and 40 percent of men over age 25, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. What’s more, the number of adult acne sufferers continues to rise. “I have seen an uptick in adult acne in my practice over the past 18 years,” says Valori Treloar, MD, dermatologist and coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet (Cumberland House Publishing, 2007).

As more adults head to the dermatologist, experts ponder the causes of this unwelcome condition. While possible contributors include pollution, today’s high stress levels, and newly developed prescription medications, an emerging body of research points to another culprit: the Western diet.

But wait, haven’t doctors, textbooks, and health and beauty magazines been telling us for decades that the link between food and acne is merely a myth? That loading up on chocolate bars and fried foods will not result in a face full of zits?

There is a food-acne connection
Although a famous 1969 study of chocolate’s effect on skin debunked any connection between food and skin problems, dermatologists may have dismissed diet’s impact on acne too quickly. Recent studies show that high-glycemic foods such as refined grains and processed sugars–the mainstays of a typical Western diet–may, in fact, trigger breakouts.

Here’s the problem: High-glycemic fare such as french fries, breakfast cereal, white bread, and soda boost blood sugar too quickly–and the pancreas responds by making extra insulin to bring those sugar levels down. As an unintended consequence, the insulin also signals the sebaceous glands to manufacture and secrete sebum, the oil-like substance that’s carried to our pores via hair follicles. In proper quantities, sebum is a good thing; it flushes out dead cells and keeps your skin lubricated. But too much causes the bacterium P. acnes to over-propagate and jam up the hair follicle. The result? Whiteheads and blackheads on your forehead, chin, and cheeks.

In addition, what Americans don’t eat may prove equally problematic for their skin. For instance, with 97 percent of our grain intake coming from processed rather than whole grains, we don’t get enough of the fiber, zinc, and vitamin B6 that can help curb acne. And the vast majority of US adults fail to get their daily allotment of fruits and vegetables–seven to nine servings–leading to a shortage of blemish-blocking vitamins and antioxidants. Overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids from processed foods and vegetable oils, coupled with too little of the anti-inflammatory omega-3s found in salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds, compounds the problem, since inflammation (already implicated in heart disease, diabetes, and prostate and breast cancers) may very well damage our largest organ, the skin, as well.

On the bright side, making low-glycemic foods the heart of your diet may zap those zits once and for all. In a 2007 Australian study, researchers examined 43 male acne patients, giving one group a low-glycemic diet of whole grains, lean meat, and fish while keeping the control group on a regimen of high-carb, high-glycemic foods. After 12 weeks, the low-glycemic dieters had far fewer pimples than the control group.

Frestedt didn’t need a study to convince her that dietary shifts can trigger or alleviate blemishes. Shortly before her acne struck, she became roommates with a woman who served buttery mashed potatoes, creamy pasta dishes, rich pastries, and fatty cuts of red meat. Although Frestedt tried to avoid eating these low-nutrient foods, she just couldn’t resist the homemade fettuccini Alfredo and piping-hot rhubarb pie and her skin suffered. Topical treatments failed to clear the blemishes, but less than two months after moving to her own place, Frestedt was back to her old eating habits. And after a couple of weeks of eating steamed veggies, lean turkey, and whole-grain bread again, she noticed that her oily, irritated skin had begun to clear.

Bad-news foods
Before you declare war on ginger snaps and mac n cheese, know that food affects everyone differently–some people are wired to react more severely to acne-promoting foods than others. For instance, Patricia Janner, 54, drinks two cans of cola every day, frequently feasts on fried foods, and can’t remember the last time a pimple popped up on her face. (Of course, she’s hardly the epitome of health, even with good skin karma.) Meanwhile, Robert Heilmann, 35, says he maintains “a fairly healthy diet,” yet zits sprout on his nose and forehead on a regular basis.

“Not all acne patients are the same,” says Treloar. To determine which foods spell trouble for your skin, Richard Fried, MD, dermatologist and author of Healing Adult Acne (New Harbinger, 2005), recommends keeping track of what you eat in a food log. “Take note of certain foods or types of food you ate four to 24 hours before an acne flare-up,” he says. See how your skin reacts to specific foods and eliminate anything that causes problems.

Foods to avoid
While no across-the-board food prescription will cure acne, experts suggest steering clear of these specific foods and food categories in order to score glowing, blemish-free skin:
Refined grains. Because they are so highly processed, the majority of cereals, breads, and other flour-based foods that we love to eat lack the nutrients, namely zinc, and antioxidants our skin needs to combat acne.

Refined sugars. Candy, soda, pastries, and cookies can be particularly troublesome for those prone to acne. These indulgences spike blood sugar levels, which your body tries to bring down by producing more insulin and male hormones. In turn, these hormones prompt the sebaceous glands to work overtime, resulting in blocked pores and inflammation.

Milk. “If there’s one thing you should remove from your diet if you want clear skin, it’s milk,” says Alan Logan, ND, coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet. Although relatively low on the glycemic index, milk carries a heavy hormone load–even organic milk contains hormones because all milk comes from nursing cows. These hormones, along with a high percentage of calcium, has made milk a suspected acne trigger for decades.

Dermatologists believe milk accelerates the body’s synthesis of androgens, male hormones present in both men and women, which causes the sebaceous glands to crank out excess sebum. You can avoid milk’s blemish-inducing effects without skimping on calcium by switching to calcium-fortified soy milk and other nondairy milks and eating plenty of spinach, collard greens, and tofu.

Vegetable oils. Corn, sunflower, safflower, and sesame oils have far more omega-6 fatty acids than anti-inflammatory omega-3s. This imbalance promotes inflammation, which causes skin cells to clump together and jam pores.

5 acne-zapping foods
Now that you’ve figured out which foods to avoid, you may worry that you’ll face serious food deprivation. But rest assured there are plenty of delicious foods that also help fight acne, including:

1. Whole grains. When it comes to thwarting acne-causing inflammation, fiber-packed whole grains work like a charm. “Whole grains carry a lot of antioxidants,” says Logan. “They also stabilize blood sugar and prevent insulin spikes.” But be careful when perusing grocery store aisles for whole-grain items–crafty label lingo can make a loaf of bread or box of pasta seem like a healthy choice, when in reality it carries only a small percentage of whole grains. Logan advises checking a product’s nutrition info to make sure it’s high in fiber and low in sugar. Even better: Forget wheat and give ancient grains like quinoa and millet a try.

2. Fish. Heralded as the premiere source of omega-3 fatty acids, cold-water, oily fish are loaded with anti-inflammatory eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The Clear Skin Diet lauds oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, anchovies, and sardines as the most potent choices for blemish-free skin.

3. Green vegetables. Packed with inflammation-fighting nutrients and loads of antioxidants, most green leafy veggies contain plenty of fiber, which helps slow the rise of blood sugar after eating.

4. Purple and deep red foods. According to The Clear Skin Diet, foods containing anthocyanins are high in antioxidants and help maintain blood flow to the skin, promoting optimum cell turnover (essential for keeping pores clear). Acai, pomegranates, purple carrots, black grapes, and beets are all great choices.

5. Green tea. Among its numerous health benefits, green tea also helps keep pimples from popping up. It’s chock-full of the antioxidant catechin EGCG, an effective anti-inflammatory. But beware of bottled green tea drinks, which often contain scads of added sugar and calories.

via 5 Foods For Clear Skin | Healthy and Green Living.