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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

Lipoic Acid & Diabetes

Posted on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 @ 09:42 AM

To say type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related comorbidities stemming from chronic hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia are epidemic is an understatement. In the industrialized world of the 21st Century, people who have healthy glucoregulation and insulin signaling are the exception, not the norm. A low-carb diet is one of the most powerful and effective non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical interventions for lowering blood sugar and insulin, and for decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.

That being said, sometimes even when individuals change their diet and lifestyle habits, they still need some extra help. Chromium, magnesium, and inositol spring immediately to mind for being useful here. Beyond that, there are other nutrients that are especially beneficial for improving the downstream complications of T2D. To find one, all we have to do is go right to the beginning of the alphabet: alpha-lipoic acid. 

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Tags: Mitochondria, Diabetes, Antioxidant, oxidative stress, insulin resistance

Sleep Apnea and Metabolic Dysfunction – a Two-Way Street?

Posted on Tue, Aug 08, 2017 @ 10:29 AM

We take it for granted that obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea. Excess body weight, particularly around the midsection, may make it difficult for some people to breathe properly in a supine position. But what if the association between obesity and sleep apnea was a two-way street, and an obstructed airway during slumber was a risk factor for weight gain? A pretty robust amount of research indicates this might be the case, with one of the underlying culprits being—surprise, surprise—elevated insulin. 

According to one study, “Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is increasingly associated with insulin resistance. The underlying pathophysiology remains unclear but intermittent hypoxia (IH)-mediated inflammation and subsequent dysfunction of the adipose tissue has been hypothesised to play a key role.” (Indeed, adipose tissue dysfunction is a little-known but perhaps major player in the etiology of type 2 diabetes, so anything that contributes to dysfunctional adipose—such as hypoxia from OSA—could potentially lead to insulin resistance over the long term.) Under this type of paradigm, even if obesity does make an unobstructed airway more difficult to maintain during sleep, we must ask what’s causing the obesity in the first place.

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Tags: obesity, Sleep, Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hyperinsulinemia, 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

Gluten-free Fearmongering – Coming Around Like Clockwork

Posted on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 @ 03:54 PM

Another gluten study, another internet uproar.

This happens so regularly, you can almost set your watch by it.

What’s caused the fuss this time around? A study published in the BMJ, whose authors concluded, “the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.”

It’s becoming increasingly laughable that respected researchers are still arguing that some kind of harm might befall people without overt celiac disease who choose to avoid gluten anyway. Surely they’re aware of the growing body of evidence—not to mention several thousand patient case studies—demonstrating that one need not have their intestinal villi destroyed as the sole arbiter of intolerance to gluten. Sure, maybe that’s one of the most severe reactions to gluten in those who are sensitive to it, but let’s not negate its effects on the skin, its contribution to irritable bowel conditions, and its possible connection to schizophrenia. And that’s the short list! Gold-standard, placebo-controlled RCTs or not, healthcare professionals can no longer deny the list of nagging symptoms—some serious, others more mild—that patients report resolution of upon going gluten-free. Headaches, eczema, anxiety, lions, and tigers and bears, oh my! (Joking aside, you get the point.) 

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Tags: diet, paleo, gluten, Diabetes, mental health, cardiovascular health, insulin resistance

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