10 Nutrition Tips for June

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Coffee prevents death (really), choosing the right diet, supplements for recovery, carb cycling, and much more. 

1. What are nitrates? Are they good for you?

Nitrate appears to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. It also reduces blood pressure in healthy people when they exercise (which inherently causes blood pressure to rise), but does not decrease pressure when a healthy person is at rest. Due to this, intake of nitrate is unlikely to induce low blood pressure (hypotension) to problematic levels.

Common sources of nitrate:

The most popular source of dietary nitrate is beetroot, and beetroot appears to be the best source of nitrate when looking at tuber vegetables. The entire tuber vegetable class (beets, radishes, turnips) seem to have high nitrate values, outperformed only by leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, rocket, celery, Chinese cabbage) which are the highest sources.

2. Which diet is best for you? The answer – it depends.

Some real-world examples:

For example, the Arctic Inuit and African Masai eat traditional diets that are very high in fat and animal products with very few vegetables.
Conversely, the Kitavans in the South Pacific eat traditional diets that are low in fat but very high in vegetables and starchy carbs.
And the Tokelau near New Zealand eat traditional diets that are very high in saturated fats.
Crazy differences here…yet all traditional diet eaters are relatively healthy people with minimal incidences of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, inflammatory obesity, etc. And this is only possible because the human body is amazingly adaptable to a host of different dietary conditions.

3. A great recipe to try – paleo-friendly banana bread

4. A look at the 20 healthiest foods on earth.

Popeye was on to something – number one:

Spinach

Much has been written about the virtues of spinach, and rightly so. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. It’s also readily available at most local supermarkets, and reasonably priced. You can get it fresh in the produce section, or you can buy it frozen in leaf form, and also canned in the canned veggies aisle. The main concern is getting more of it into your system so you can reap all of the positive benefits.

Benefits

Right away spinach is going to go to work for you, providing you with energy, and helping you to fill your stomach without adding a lot of calories to your daily intake. When you factor in the phytonutrients working as antioxidants you’re doing yourself a huge favor with the battle against free radical damage. Not to mention you’re helping to nourish your body on a cellular level, providing increased energy, and it aids any weight loss efforts.

5. Is brown rice really healthier than white rice? 

The claim: Brown rice is less processed than white and is therefore healthier.
The truth: “Usually the more unprocessed a food, the better, because it contains more nutrients, but in this case the unprocessed component of the brown-rice grain contains both nutrients (good things for us to consume) and some antinutrients (maybe not a good thing for us to consume), which are what the plant uses as a defense system against pests.”

6. Here is a list of supplements to maximize your recovery.

This is a really interesting list – some things on there that you probably haven’t even heard of before.

Curcumin, which is found in the Indian spice turmeric, has gotten a lot of press as a potential cancer fighter in recent years. However, it also has powerful anti-inflammatory qualities. A drawback to curcumin is that the human body absorbs it poorly, so it is most effective at high doses, such as 500 mg, or with piperine or black pepper extract to help increase absorption. Black pepper has been shown to increase the rate of curcumin absorption as much as 2,000 percent—the percentage is high because curcumin is so poorly absorbed without it—making it or some other type of absorption helper, or “adjuvant,” almost mandatory for proper supplementation of curcumin.

7. You can still eat carbs and get a lean and mean physique. How? Learn about carb cycling (and use it).

While it has a fancy name, carb cycling is nothing more than eating more carbohydrates on some days (High Carb days) to help promote muscle growth and eating less carbohydrates on other days (Low Carb days) to help minimize fat gain and even promote fat loss.

We focus on carbohydrates (and not protein or fats) because carbs seem to have the most influential effect on body composition and how you look.

High Carb Days:
stimulate an insulin response that shuttle nutrients in your muscle cells, causing them to grow
replenish glycogen stores that fuel your muscles
make you feel good and energized
Low Carb Days:
promote fat loss by tricking your body into burning fat for fuel (instead of the sugar from the carbs it would normally get)
keep your body more receptive to insulin, improving your body’s muscle-building response

8. Another study that dispels the myth linking dietary saturated fats to CADs (coronary artery disease)

The replacement of saturated fats in the diet with carbohydrates, especially sugars, has resulted in increased obesity and its associated health complications. Well-established mechanisms have been proposed for the adverse health effects of some alternative or replacement nutrients, such as simple carbohydrates and PUFAs. The focus on dietary manipulation of serum cholesterol may be moot in view of numerous other factors that increase the risk of heart disease. The adverse health effects that have been associated with saturated fats in the past are most likely due to factors other than SFAs, which are discussed here.

9. Coffee can prevent death. No really - read this. 

In one large-scale epidemiological study from last year, researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study.

It’s not clear exactly what coffee had to do with their longevity, but the correlation is striking.

Striking indeed.

10. Are processed meats healthy?

Processed meats, through a combination of nitrates and heme (neither one alone appearing to be too much of a problem) appear to dose-dependently form carcinogenic nitrosamines. This is a phenomena very well researched in vitro (outside of living systems) and in animal models, with at least one human study noting that DNA damage has occurred in the colon following consumption of processed meat products. Due to the current state of research (survey research showing a connection, but no interventions existing due to ethical complications of possibly giving a human cancer intentionally) and the biological plausibility, it is reasonable to assume that processed meats do cause cancer.

Now before you go and throw out all of your processed meat:

However, in the survey research the hazard ratios and overall risk is fairly small. While this increased risk does exist (in a dose-dependent manner), due to its size it is wholly possible that dietary or supplemental interventions to reduce cancer risk could eliminate the risk. The possibility of one unforeseen or additional variable negating the risk is why low hazard ratios tend not to be used, despite technically being an increased risk.

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