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The Powerful Punch of Pumpkin Seeds

Posted on Tue, Nov 07, 2017 @ 02:46 PM

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, have gained quite a bit of popularity. Roasting pumpkin seeds has become a notable tradition, especially throughout the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons. But these delicious seeds can also be enjoyed raw or roasted, unhulled or naked, salted or plain. In any form, they are certainly among the elite of all seeds.

Nutritional Profile

One nutritional element that sets pumpkin seeds apart from their clan is the tremendous amount of protein they offer. At 7 grams per ounce, pumpkin seeds become an important source of plant-based protein.

The seeds are also an excellent source of critical minerals. They supply 42% of the RDA of manganese, an important nutrient for bone metabolism, antioxidant function, and cognitive health. Each ounce of pumpkin seeds offers 150 mg of magnesium, one of the most deficient nutrients in our diets and an underlying problem in multiple health concerns. Phosphorus, iron, and copper are found in significant amounts, aiding in the body’s antioxidant systems and making pumpkin seeds a good tool for those struggling with anemia. Finally, pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin K, supplying 18% of the RDA.

In addition to vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds provide a variety of phytonutrients including phenolic acids, carotenoids, phytosterols, and squalene, which are shown to exert numerous therapeutic properties such as antioxidative, hypoglycemic, anticancer, antihypertensive, cardioprotective, antilipemic, gynoprotective, and anthelmintic.

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Tags: prostate, blood glucose, skin health, cholesterol, cardiovascular health, insulin resistance

Is There a Male Equivalent to PCOS?

Posted on Thu, Nov 02, 2017 @ 04:45 PM

As early as the 1960s, doctors noted a phenomenon of “diabetes in bearded women.” They observed a clustering of blood sugar abnormalities or overt type 2 diabetes, hirsutism, and virilization in women. Originally found primarily in postmenopausal women, this phenomenon was called Achard-Thiers syndrome (after the physicians who identified it). It has become much more common among younger women in recent decades and the similar clustering of symptoms is now known as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). It is also acknowledged now that chronically elevated insulin is the primary driving factor behind the condition. Oddly, though, the presence of ovarian cysts is not required for a PCOS diagnosis, so the name is a bit of a misnomer. With this in mind, might there be a male metabolic/hormonal equivalent to PCOS?

Other than hyperinsulinemia, hormonal abnormalities seen in PCOS include elevated gonadotropin-releasing hormone and luteinizing hormone (LH), reduced follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), reduced sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and increased bioavailable androgens. Indeed, a similar pattern has been observed in males, and it comes with its own set of signs and symptoms. The parallels are so striking that researchers have come to consider it a “male polycystic ovarian syndrome equivalent.”

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Tags: prostate, men's health, blood glucose, PCOS, insulin resistance

Hemoglobin A1c: Less Reliable Than We Thought?

Posted on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 @ 10:28 AM

Hemoglobin A1c, or glycated hemoglobin, is typically taken to represent a three to four month average blood glucose level. This is because red blood cells are assumed to live approximately 120 days. But is this true for everyone? Or do different pathological conditions or genetic polymorphisms affect the lifespan and behavior of red blood cells? Research indicates that hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is more variable than is generally acknowledged. This has important implications for physicians and patients, as HbA1c may not be as reliable a marker as is usually believed.

For starters, in a somewhat paradoxical situation, individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) may have an artificially low HbA1c. Hyperglycemia reduces the lifespan of erythrocytes, giving these cells less time to become glycated, even in the presence of a high glucose concentration. In such a situation, it’s unlikely that a type 2 diabetic would have an HbA1c in the non-diabetic range, but it might be substantially lower than would be expected based on their typical post-prandial blood glucose or their glucose level throughout the day in general. This could lead the patient and their physician to believe the diabetes is better controlled than it actually is.

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Tags: Diabetes, blood glucose, insulin resistance

Tarragon is Terrific (Really)

Posted on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 @ 04:53 PM

Tarragon: it’s a culinary herb that, like cilantro, has lovers and haters. For cilantro, it’s the notorious “soapy” flavor that turns people off. With tarragon, it’s the taste of licorice or anise, and depending on your taste buds, it’s either a selling point or a total turnoff. For those who enjoy the flavor, tarragon joins the ranks of rosemary, basil, parsley and other herbs that not only add something special to recipes, but also have beneficial effects for health. 

The noted licorice flavor of tarragon comes from estragole—essential oil of French tarragon is 60-80% estragole, and this compound is also found in anise, fennel, and, not surprisingly to those who dislike it, pine oil and turpentine! The distinct flavor and aroma make tarragon extract an ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics, and tarragon vinegar, which can be made easily at home, adds an interesting touch to salads and vegetable dishes. Estragole is toxic to rats in large doses, but experimental doses used to determine this have virtually no relevance to humans consuming tarragon as a culinary herb. (Russian tarragon has nearly no estragole, and differs dramatically in taste and aroma from the French variety.) 

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Tags: Vitamin C, Diabetes, blood glucose, Vitamin B6, insulin resistance

Marvelous Melon: Spotlight on Cantaloupe and Honeydew

Posted on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 @ 09:43 PM

People watching their carbohydrate intake generally gravitate toward berries. Berries are rich in antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols, and they deliver nutrients while having a low glycemic impact. Regarding other fruits, fructose fearmongering has led people to avoid apples, grapes and bananas.

But what about melons? Melons are juicy, delicious, and supremely refreshing on a hot summer day. And the good news is, there’s plenty of room for melon in a healthy diet.

The Cucurbitaceae botanical family includes cantaloupe and honeydew, cucumbers, watermelon, pumpkin, zucchini and other squashes, gourds and melons. There’s muskmelon, Galia melon, Crenshaw melon, and more. Let’s take a closer look at the two most commonly found in North American supermarkets: cantaloupe and honeydew.

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Tags: diet, Antioxidant, blood glucose, fatigue, insulin resistance

For Migraine Relief – Cut Out the Carbs?

Posted on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

Nutritional interventions for migraines often focus on adding something to one’s diet or supplements. For example, magnesium, feverfew, and rosemary are just a handful of the nutrients and compounds that are effective for helping to reduce the frequency and severity of these debilitating attacks—at least in some people. Other strategies to ward off migraines, or at the very least make them more bearable, involve taking things out of the diet. “It’s genetic.”

People vary in what triggers their migraines, but common culprits include beer, wine, cheese and chocolate. (As if having migraines wasn’t bad enough!) Sulfites and MSG are other potential triggers, so perhaps the migraine reaction is related to a histamine or tyramine sensitivity, as aged and fermented foods contain high levels of these compounds. (It’s a matter of debate whether tyramines induce migraines in susceptible individuals.) Then, of course, there are changes in barometric pressure, but no matter how diligently someone controls their diet, they can’t do much about the weather.

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Tags: diet, gluten, anti-inflammatory, Diabetes, blood glucose, Ketogenic Diet, pain, fat, insulin resistance

Male Pattern Baldness – Insulin Strikes Again?

Posted on Thu, Jul 06, 2017 @ 02:07 PM

“It’s genetic.”

“All the men in my family lose their hair.”

“It’s inevitable. There’s nothing I can do.”

Poor body image typically brings to mind young women, but fretting over one’s physical appearance is an equal opportunity activity. It doesn’t discriminate. People of all body shapes and sizes, ethnicities and genders, will find fault with aspects of their physical body that other people probably don’t even notice. But knowing just about everyone experiences this in some way or another doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. And it’s not just our bodies we fight with in the mirror. What about our hair?

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Tags: Diabetes, blood glucose, insulin resistance

The Ins & Outs of Horsetail Extract

Posted on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 @ 06:34 PM

Horsetail extract – such a strange (and misleading) name for a botanical, but don’t let that fool you; this compound does not come from horses! Several species of Equisetum, the horsetail genus, are employed in supplements, the most common of which is Equisetum arvense. The name Equisetum comes from the Latin equus, for “horse,” and seta, meaning “bristle.” It was so named because, as the plant dries, silica crystals accumulate in the stems and branches, which look like feathery tails and give the plant a scratchy quality. The aboveground parts of horsetail, as opposed to the roots, are used for medicinal purposes, and they may be fresh or dried, and delivered in capsules, or as tinctures or teas.

Horsetail contains the largest silica content in the plant kingdom. Because of this, horsetail may be beneficial for strengthening nails and hair, as well as skin and other collagen-rich connective tissue. It has been used to help combat osteoporosis, as it may help improve bone mineral density. There is not an abundance of studies on this, but horsetail does have efficacy in inhibiting the synthesis of human osteoclasts in vitro. Horsetail showed a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on osteoclastogenesis that reached statistical significance at a concentration ≥0.004 mg/ml. Researchers concluded that horsetail modulated osteoclast formation by either acting directly on osteoclast precursor cells, or indirectly, via osteoblasts.

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Tags: Diabetes, blood glucose, bone health, skin health, diuretic

Dietary Advice for Type 2 Diabetes: Conflicting and Confusing

Posted on Wed, May 31, 2017 @ 02:15 PM

It’s not easy being a healthcare professional in the 21st Century. We’re the beneficiaries of technological advancements our predecessors could only dream of. But along with increasingly available contraptions for people to measure glucose, ketones, heart rate, and more at home, any time they want, comes an endless amount of data and information that leaves people more confused than ever.

In a past post, we looked at conflicting advice from respected nutrition and health organizations regarding sodium intake. It’s no wonder so many patients suffer from “paralysis by analysis” – inundation with information to the point that they don’t know what to believe. Low fat? Low carb? Vegetarian? Paleo? For every scientific study supporting one of these dietary approaches, there’s an equal and opposite study suggesting it’s a one-way ticket to an early grave. One area in particular that suffers from advice schizophrenia is dietary recommendations for type 2 diabetics.

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Tags: protein, Diabetes, blood glucose, fiber

Preparing Beans and Legumes – What to Know

Posted on Thu, May 25, 2017 @ 04:08 PM

Beans and legumes (also known as pulses) present an enigma to health advocates and nutritionists in the wake of the Paleolithic lifestyle. Paleo loyalists refuse to partake in these starchy pods, but others argue for their undisputable nutrition. Beans and legumes offer our gut microbiota a source of prebiotic fiber, deliver various minerals, and are a source of plant-based protein. However, they contain antinutrients and have copious amounts of starch that can create gaseous byproducts and trigger bloating, abdominal distention and pain.

So, what’s the answer? While some may still permanently eliminate this food group, it seems there is a way around the acclaimed antinutrients and even the heavy starch content, making this an acceptable food choice for some. That’s right. Research tells us the method of preparing beans and legumes is the key to their nutritive value. 

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Tags: protein, blood glucose, fiber, blood pressure

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