September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and it warrants a discussion because almost 22,000 women with be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer this year alone. If it is diagnosed at the earliest stages, there is a 5-year survival rate of 93%. Unfortunately, most are diagnosed at Stage 3. Half of the cases are in women over the age of 63. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women.
Symptoms for Ovarian Cancer are somewhat benign and unfortunately similar to irritable bowel syndrome: bloating, nausea, gas; abdominal pain; indigestion and constipation; and/or extreme fatigue.
There are a few Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer:
having a family history
over age 50
Researchers looked back over the past 40 years into the diets of 180,000 women and found that eating foods and drinking beverages high in flavonoids provided protection from Ovarian Cancer. The main sources of flavonoids in this study were oranges and orange juice, black tea, onions and apples.
It is good to know that dietary protection from Ovarian Cancer might come from dietary flavonoids. Good sources of flavonoids include
Apple, berries, grapes and oranges
Kale, broccoli, legumes, and yellow onions
Here is a jam-packed reduce-your-cancer-risk menu:
Breakfast: oatmeal with blackberries + cup of black tea
Lunch: white bean-kale-onion soup
Snack: red grapes
Dinner: grilled salmon, baked sweet potato + oven-roasted broccoli florets
Snack: cup of black tea + apple slices
Your kids are probably settled back into their school routine. Lots more reading, homework, and after school activities – the entire day really ramps up during the school year. And children of all ages need the daily energy to handle all of the goings on, as well as the essential nutrients to meet their growth needs. If you are packing up their lunch for the day, here are a few nutrition and safety reminders.
The lunch basics to include when packing up:
1) Protein: fish, poultry, cheese, peanut butter, etc.
2) Whole-grain: bread, tortilla, crackers, etc.
3) Vegetables and/or fruits
4) Beverage (milk is best)
Tips for packing healthy and interesting lunches:
1) Include colorful foods: yellow mini bell peppers and bananas, green broccoli florets and kiwi, red cherry tomatoes and cherries, purple grapes, etc.
2) Child-size portions if you have young children: half a sandwich, for example
3) Kids of all ages like finger foods such as string cheese, pretzel sticks, bran chex cereal & nut trail mix, etc.
4) Try out some non-traditional lunch ideas – some work best if there is a microwave for reheating available in the school cafeteria:
baked potato with toppers such as shredded cheese, salsa, green onions or chili
pasta salad packed with whole-grain pasta and fresh veggies
wraps made with hummus, spinach leaves, and grated carrots
homemade vegetable soup with apple muffin
any hearty leftovers such as chili, casseroles, etc.
Be sure to keep brown bag lunches safe:
1) Use insulated lunch bags and frozen-solid cold packs.
2) Wash out the lunch boxes or bags at the end of the day with hot sudsy water so there is plenty of drying time before you repack.
Saturday, September 13 is Celiac Disease Awareness Day. It’s in recognition of Dr. Samuel Gee, a British physician and pediatrician who first described the clinical picture of celiac disease. He is credited with being the first to link celiac disease to diet. Dr. Gee noted: “if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” Eliminating all forms of gluten is the only treatment for celiac disease. That means no wheat, barley or rye in any way, shape or form.
Approximately 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease, and therefore avoiding gluten. But there are other reasons that people reduce gluten in the diet. Some folks have gluten sensitivity if they eat too much gluten, so they are replacing breads, cereals and pasta with gluten-free options. And in an effort to lose weight, others cut out the calories that come with gluten-containing foods. However, replacing gluten-containing foods with gluten-free does not necessarily mean that there will be calories saved.
What foods are naturally gluten-free?
fruits and vegetables
legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, split peas, etc.
rice, quinoa, corn and cornmeal, and buckwheat
fresh protein such as eggs, fish, poultry red meats and game
nuts and seeds
milk, most yogurts and cheeses (labels need to be checked)
oils such as olive, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower and peanut
Preparing foods at home will give the best opportunity to leave gluten out of the diet. But fortunately some restaurants are offering gluten-free menu items. Wendy’s is an example with their baked potato, salads and chili – all gluten-free. But the kicker will be what goes on in the kitchen of the restaurant because there can be cross contamination if there is no separate gluten-free work space, utensils and cooking surfaces. So a gluten-free chicken breast may be grilled on a grilling surface where hamburger buns were toasted – cross contamination. Talk to the manager and wait staff to ask important questions about the preparation of their gluten-free dishes.
It’s the first of September, and that means Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This disease of the prostate, the gland in the male reproductive system, will account for 233,000 new prostate cases this year alone, and approximately 29,500 deaths. It’s the second most common cancer among men. It is typically a disease of older men – it’s somewhat unusual for prostate cancer to occur in a man who is under 50 years of age. But as men age, the risk increases, and 1 in 5 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The key is early detection.
Risk factors for developing prostate cancer that you cannot control:
- Having a family history of prostate cancer
- Being of African American descent
Controllable risk factors for prostate cancer:
- Taking vitamin E supplements
- Taking a calcium supplement
- Taking the vitamin folic acid in a dose of 1 milligram or more
- Having a high dairy intake
Let’s get protection from developing prostate cancer:
- Regular – almost daily – exercise
- Eating a variety of healthy foods
- Eating less animal protein, especially any meat that has been charred or cooked at a high temperature
And of course, go for your yearly prostate cancer screenings as recommended by your doctor. Early detection is the best strategy.
There is additional valuable resource information at the American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org.
How do you take your food? With salt or without? For the sake of your health, hopefully your use of the salt shaker is minimal.
A new study out of Japan reaffirms that limiting sodium intake (and sodium is part of salt) can be beneficial to the vascular system,
especially for those people who have diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that needs to be well-managed to have a minimal impact
of the heart and vascular system.
This 8-year Japanese study followed 1,588 adults between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age. And the results? Those with the highest
daily intake of sodium (5,900 mg or more than 2½ teaspoons of salt) had the highest risk for cardiovascular disease. Those with the lowest
intake (less than 2,888 mg of sodium) had the lowest cardiovascular disease risk.
Where does sodium lurk, besides in your salt shaker?
Process meats such as luncheon meats, hotdogs, bacon and sausage
Canned soups and stews
Frozen meals and frozen pizza
Convenience foods such as jars of spaghetti sauce, seasoned rice mixes, instant oatmeal
Salty snack foods such as chips, pretzels and snack crackers
You can easily check the Nutrition Facts label on the food package to see how much sodium it contains per one serving.
Select foods with less than 140 mg of sodium.
It can be challenging to reduce sodium intake if you do not make some dishes at home from scratch. The closer the food is
to its original form, the less sodium it will have. So fresh green beans have 0 mg sodium but a serving of canned green beans
contains 300 mg sodium. Plain rice cooked with your own added herbs and seasoning will have 0 mg sodium but a pre-seasoned
boxed rice mix contains 800 mg sodium per ½ cup serving.
Make dishes from scratch if you can to save loads of sodium. This seems to be especially important if you have diabetes -
it may just keep you from developing cardiovascular disease!
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Absolutely yes, especially for kids heading off to school. But researchers estimate that up to 35% of children and adolescents bypass breakfast, for various reasons…. getting up late, not hungry, busy with other morning tasks, and for some children, it is not even offered or prepared for them. It really helps so much if parents are not just providing breakfast but also eating breakfast with their children, if work schedules allow.
Why should kids eat breakfast?
To recharge their batteries after a night of sleep and no food.
They’ll be more alert, and have better concentration in school
Kids may even have better grades!
Kids who routinely eat breakfast have a better intake of nutrients to meet their needs for growth, energy, and brain-work.
Breakfast Skippers have a much lower daily intake of:
fruits and vegetables
vitamins A, B, E, C, and the minerals iron, calcium and potassium
Tips to make breakfast happen on a hectic school day:
Preset the table the night before.
Have everyone get up a few minutes earlier.
No TV, phones or other distractions.
What makes up a healthy get-up-and-go breakfast?
Protein - milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs and nut butters
Starch – whole-grain cereals, breads, and flour tortillas; potatoes
Fruits and/or Vegetables -fresh, frozen, light-packed canned and juices
Okay, there are the traditional breakfast ideas like
fried egg sandwich on whole-grain toast + fresh peach slices
oatmeal cooked with milk and diced apples
Cheerios with skim milk and frozen blueberries
peanut butter and banana slices on whole wheat English muffin
But your kids- and you - may prefer non-traditional foods in the morning like
grilled cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread + seasonal fruit cup
bowl of leftover beef stew with vegetables
whole-grain sub roll with leftover turkey-spinach meatballs
smoothie made with Greek yogurt, frozen fruit and milk
slice of veggie pizza
leftover chicken-vegetable stir-fry over wild rice
Use your imagination to develop interesting and healthy breakfast menus – and your kids will thank you for it!
Gastroparesis is a condition that causes the stomach to empty food contents slowly. Gastro (stomach) + paresis (paralysis) = gastroparesis.
Who may develop gastroparesis? People who have
diabetes who have not managed their blood sugar levels
been taking certain medications such narcotics, calcium channel blockers, and certain antidepressants
recently had surgery where there might be accidental damage to the vagus nerve that controls contraction of the stomach
a past history of an eating disorder
Common symptoms of gastroparesis include
early satiety (feeling full after eating just a small amount of food)
feeling bloated (especially after eating)
waking up feeling nauseous
occasionally vomiting when you begin to eat
never feeling hungry
The uncomfortable feelings that come with gastroparesis can often be resolved with dietary changes to make it easier for the stomach to work:
very small meals (stop eating before you feel full)
chew food very well (less work for the stomach)
stay upright after eating for at least one hour
Changes in food choices will also relieve the discomfort of gastroparesis:
cooked, tender foods are best rather than raw or rough foods
have soft-textured foods without fiber
all foods should be low in fat. That’s right - LOW FIBER.
Changing up foods choices when you have gastroparesis can make a huge difference in how food is digested and then, how folks feel – more energy, for example, is pretty typical.
Fruits and vegetables are best peeled and cooked, rather than raw, for ex., applesauce rather than whole raw apples.
White rice, bread and pasta are digested more easily. White, sour dough, Italian and French breads are good choices.
Low fiber cold cereal such as Cornflakes and Rice Krispies are better than bran flakes.
Lean protein such as Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs, fish and skinless poultry are easier to digest than beef and pork. Beef and pork should be ground or minced.
A healthy menu for gastroparesis:
1 poached egg on 1 slice sourdough toast
light-packed canned peaches, 1/2 cup
skim or 1% milk
tuna salad sandwich on French-style bread
1/2 cup of tomato soup
skim or 1% milk
turkey meatloaf, 1 small slice
Between-Meal Snack Ideas
light-packed canned fruit such as applesauce
cheese slices + saltine crackers
Nilla wafers + skim or 1% milk
In case you had doubts, it does matter for your health if you eat well and exercise. You really can control much of how your health will play out as you age and go through life. And if you have some unhealthy habits, changing them – no matter your age – can make a difference in whether or not you develop heart disease. Results from the CARDIA study, published in the journal Circulation, confirms this. But if unhealthy habits continue, well, there are consequences to the health of your arteries.
The five healthy lifestyles habits were:
LOW alcohol intake
being physically active
Adding up healthy lifestyle habits resulted in reduced odds of artery calcification and thickness of the lining
What is considered a healthy diet to keep arteries healthy: it is low in sodium, high in fiber with LOTS of fruits and vegetables.
In this study of 5,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 30, they were assessed for health habits, and then reassessed 20 years later, and that is where the results are interesting. Those folks who had more of those five habits had cleaner arteries, and less thickening of the artery walls. And the reverse was true for those with fewer of the habits.
So, bottom line is that habits CAN change and improve. You are NOT too old to make some changes in how you live your life. The best bet is for daily activity, good unprocessed food choices, keeping a lean weight, no smoking and very modest alcohol intake.
Right now the four big cancer killers are lung, breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, and colorectal cancer for both men and women. In the American Association for Cancer Research journal, researchers suggest that changes are in the works. Overall cancer-related deaths are decreasing because of improved screening and better treatment options. But some areas of cancer are changing for the worse.
Overall cancer cases are on the rise because of our aging population. Over the next 15 years, cancer rates will rise from 1.5 million to 2.1 million.
What types of cancer are on the rise: liver, pancreas and bladder.
Why do researchers feel there is an increase in pancreatic and liver cancer rates? Three reasons:
Obesity rates are UP.
HIGH calorie intake.
HIGH rates of diabetes.
The only way to change the death rate is to work on prevention of pancreatic and liver cancers -maintain a healthy weight, eat well and prevent diabetes. That means a focus on vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains, with reasonable servings of carbohydrate-containing foods.
Eat WELL. Be WELL.
It is important during pregnancy to take care of yourself because, after all, you are growing a little person! That means: adequate sleep, ways to reduce daily stressors, an excellent fluid intake, a daily walk, and of course, attention to what and how much food you eat. It is very hard to get in all that you need if meals are skipped.
As pregnancy moves along, several nutrients are needed in higher amounts, including protein. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are going to release new advice for pregnant and breast feeding women, recommending MORE fish to be eaten each week. Here is the scoop:
Weekly Fish Recommendations during pregnancy and nursing: 6-8 ounces per week or 2-3 small servings per week of low--mercury fish.
Low-mercury fish: canned light tuna, salmon, tilapia, cod, shrimp, pollock, catfish, sardines, haddock, sole
AVOID these fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding – they are the highest in mercury content: shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
An FDA assessment of fish consumption data found that 21% of pregnant women had not eaten any fish at all in the previous month. Of course, part of that could be because of a dislike of fish, but many women restrict fish completely because they think the mercury content is too high. But research shows that reasonable servings of low mercury fish is important for the growth and development of the fetus, babies and young children.
So think about including a few more fish meals each week. An additional tuna salad sandwich or white fish chowder at lunch is quick to pull together. Salmon cakes or shrimp on the grill are tasty and easy additions to dinnertime menus.
Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She has worked in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for 35 years, working with patients and their family members to help guide healthy food choices.