Amazing Watermelon

Yes, your BBQ has a side of watermelon, naturally. You know it is hydrating and has a surprisingly low sugar content? But did you know it is also packed with antioxidants?

You’ve heard the term anti-oxidant in the same sense as ‘good for you’  but do you realize the important role it has in our bodies? A quick few facts that will have you looking for these free-radicals ‘eaters”. Free radicals cause disease and damage to our bodies. Think prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and yep, even cancer. The body needs balance if the free radicals outnumber the antioxidants, the body goes into ‘oxidative stress’. Stress of almost any kind is not good. This state causes damage to tissues, and we become ill.

Lycopene gives watermelon its vibrant pink hues, it is a carotenoid that gives many fruits and vegetables a red color. It is both an antioxidant and an anti-cancer nutrient. It is the most powerful antioxidant in foods. Lycopene is in many cells, its presence in the skin literally protects against solar radiation damage. High lycopene foods include guavas, cooked tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, papaya, sweet red peppers, persimmon, asparagus, red cabbage, and mangos.

H. Sies studied micronutrient’s role in cancer prevention and we have him to thank for these important contributions. Watermelon can also help people who already have cancer, plus since it is 90% water helps with the common problem of dehydration.

Watermelon can be made into a drink, a salad with feta cheese and balsamic vinegar, look and ask around for healthy watermelon recipes.

Enjoy!

 

Incredible Number Of Skin Cancers

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. Incredible is the fact, it is estimated that one out of seven people in the United States is diagnosed with skin cancer each year. According to the American Cancer Society, each year, more than 5.4 million basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed, Sun exposure is the major culprit. This blog is not about prevention, but I do want to remind you, it is easy enough to prevent sun damage to your skin. SPF greater than 30 (learn about sunblocks) applied after water exposure, with sweating along with a 3 inch brimmed head covering will protect you.

Skin cancer risk factors, you know many of them. Yes, fair skin, excessive exposure to the sun, and tanning beds will do it. But you need to realize a history of sunburn, fair skin, and family history are also risk factors. 

Folks most likely to promote skin cancer are individuals with fair skin, blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes, a history of sun exposure, or a tendency to burn or freckle when exposed to the sun. Those who have a family history of skin cancer are also at increased risk. People with dark skin, myself included, can develop skin cancer

Squamous and basal cell skin cancers are the most common types. Melanoma, another less common type of skin cancer is a more serious type of skin cancer as it is more invasive.

In this short blog, I want to give you some clues so you can perform once a monthly a self-check of your skin. In a well-lit private place with a large wall mirror, you may find changes in the way your skin looks or feels. Use a hand mirror to check for anything new on your skin, discoloration, a new mole, or changes to a mole you already have. Don’t forget to check your scalp and between your toes.Incredible Number of Skin Cancers

Take a picture with your phone if you are concerned. This is important in case you think it is a pimple and watch if it changes. Below I will share well-known clues to suspecting abnormal skin lesions. Keep track of any changes you may see, and tell or email your doctor. Dermatologists are best at examining and recognizing skin lesions. Also, they can treat them with the latest removal techniques. The Mohs surgery to remove lesions has a cure rate exceeds 99 percent for new skin cancers and 95 percent for recurrent skin cancers

The ABCDE’s of suspicious skin lesions

  • A – Asymmetry: One half does not look like the other half
  • B – Border: Edges are irregular, uneven, or ragged; margins fade into the skin around the lesion.
  • C – Color: Uneven color or varying shades; shades of black, brown, and tan can be present; also areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue 
  • D – Diameter: The size of the lesion, spot or mole can be very small or bigger than pea size (one-fourth of an inch) or larger
  • E – Evolving: All of the above characteristics change over  time making it suspicious for cancer 

If you have a lesion or any skin change, find out if it is concerning by seeing a trained medical provider. Timely diagnosis and removal, if it is suspicious, is very important. 

 

Beware For Children’s Eyes

Why do adults wear sunglasses yet do not encourage children too? They spend lots of time outside enjoying going to sports, pools or just ‘hanging’. Hopefully, you insist they wear sunscreen to protect their skin and a wide-brimmed hat, so why not protect their eye? 

Actually, according to Mayo Clinic Health System, children are exposed to more annual sun than adults. I can believe that.

With increased exposure comes an increased potential for eye damage.  Ultraviolet (UV) light — (invisible electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun) can damage young eyes and surrounding skin. Adult eyes can actually fair better from UV rays but cumulative damage with age causes cataracts, age-related macula degeneration, and pterygium, a non-cancerous growth on an eyeball. In the short term, we are all familiar with snow blindness (photokeratitis), caused by the reflection of UV rays off sand water, ice, and snow. Yes, the name for sunburned eyes!

You understand why you should wear them by now, so why not encourage children to do so, the younger the better. Make it a game make it seem cool any tactic to protect those precious & venerable eyes.

Simply wearing sunglasses will protect eyes from everyday UV damages as harmful rays are present even on cloudy days. 

Think about the following as you purchase sunglasses for children.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI ) has guidelines that define UV protection and impact protection. Go for a pair that blocks 99%–100% of both UVA (long-length) and UVB (short-length) rays. Buy a pair that protects from rays entering from the sides – wraps around.

Consider photochromic lenses, also called transition lenses, to eliminate the need for sunglasses for a child that already wears glasses. Photochromic lenses automatically change from clear lenses to darkened lenses in the presence of sunlight blocking 100% of the sun’s UV rays. 

Consider the activities of your child when buying, be sure they are impact-resistant (polycarbonate). Bendable but not breakable is good and don’t forget to look for scratch-proof lenses. Some sunglasses come with amber or green colored lenses to help with contrast, needed for certain sports.

Make the purchase of sunglasses the child’s idea, have them choose from pairs you have determined meet their needs. If they do not want to wear sunglasses, do some detective work, is it not fitting correctly, falls off easily, does nose bridge slide – you will figure it out.  As the ‘adult ‘ be the ‘keeper’ of the sunglasses when not in use, trust me the pair will be around longer. Then when you go out, as you put your sunglasses on be sure your child does, routine and in unison -how cool! 

Fight Viruses With These Foods

There are foods with antiviral properties and in this blog, I will share what I have learned. Antiviral properties are present in immune-boosting nutraceuticals, polyphenols, terpenoids, flavonoids, alkaloids, sterols, pigments, unsaturated fatty-acids, micronutrient vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, and trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper.

In this blog, I want to introduce a few specific foods that can fight viral infections.

Olive oil, especially extra virgin, is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as several polyphenols (esp. Oleuropein and Hydroxytyrosol)  which have powerful antioxidative and anti-inflammatory characters. The polyphenol, Oleuropein, specifically has been shown to fight the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Hydroxytyrosol has been shown to have an inhibiting effect on HIV from entering the host cell and binding. Also, this polyphenol can inactivate the effects on influenza A viruses.

Vitamin D-containing foods are antiviral. We have been hearing lots during the pandemic about this vitamin. It is found in dairy and its ability to battle COVID-19 and influenza infections has been uncovered. Vitamin D’s exact mechanism of action is not clear but it definitely helps lung protection against a virus in folks who have low levels of this vitamin.

Yogurt, you know is good for you, especially when you are taking antibiotics! But did you know yogurt has been shown to provide protection against the influenza virus, as well other RNA viruses? We know of its probiotic actions but it also has an impact on virus adsorption and internalization into cells specifically lymphocytic cells.

Garlic is always touted as being good for you, so much so tablets and capsules are in the vitamin section of almost all stores. The compounds in garlic that fight viruses, including allicin, diallyl trisulfide (Allitridin), ajoene, and quercetin. These compounds act by inhibiting the virus from attaching to cells and block the virus from copying itself. Garlic acts against influenza A, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human cytomegalovirus.

Mushrooms have active anti-viral ingredients, these include polysaccharides and terpenoids. They deter the binding of HIV-1 protease and its ‘reverse transcriptase activity ( the virus’s RNA changes the DNA of the cell). Other viruses that mushrooms protect against include influenza A and cytomegalovirus.

Cyclotide-containing foods have long been used in Chinese plant medicine these bioactive chemicals are from edible wild vegetables, used for reduction of fever, detoxification, anti-inflammation, and pain relief. Think pumpkin, squash, zucchini, legumes,

This is not an exhausted listing so please do take a look at this article for other antiviral foods. The Illustration below is from the article. Fight Viruses With These Foods

 

 

Doc’s Message

Drugs alone can not protect us from all viruses, this is well known. The state of our bodies, especially our ‘resistance’ to viral infections is helped tremendously by what we put into our body – diet. Immunity arises quicker in healthy bodies. Knowing the helpful ingredients in our food sources is well worthwhile.

Super Nutrition For Your Skin

You are what you eat especially your skin shows it! What nutrition is best to affect healthy skin? I share what science has proven are the superfoods that are capable of helping your skin – the largest body organ. These foods also help our internal organs. Ensure your young loved ones start enjoying these foods.

Super Nutrition For Your SkinThe results of incorporating more nutrient-rich foods into your diet, you’ll see in the mirror!

Hear me out, please, Never too many orange & yellow fruits & vegetables on your plate- think not just carrots, but mango, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. Rich in vitamin C and A, carotenoids, and other antioxidants as well as magnesium.

Vitamin C impacts collagen think firmness youthful-looking skin. Vitamin A found to decrease sebum production reduction great for us with oily skin or acne-prone. Those carotenoids and other antioxidants in the orange and yellows help prevent UVA/B sun damage and keep our skin healthy and moisturized. Then there is the magnesium, content that’s important for relaxing, improved sleep, and decreased muscle and joint discomfort.

Other rich in Vitamin C (antioxidant) foods esp. kiwis, guava, blueberries, red peppers, and strawberries will attack free radicals. Free radicals are not good! That translates to less sunburn, wrinkles, and age spots.

Yes, don’t forget the legumes, a category (think grown as a crop) that includes peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts. They are an excellent source of zinc in your diet and have healing properties, help fight acne and other inflammatory skin problems.

Tomatoes are one of the only foods to have all of the important carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene. As mentioned above they shield against UV damage and yes wrinkles! Bonus, they also contain lots of vitamin C.

Broccoli is packed with so many things good for your health.  From vitamins A, C, and K for collagen production to lutein, and beta carotenoid it is chockfull of important nutrients for the skin. PLUS it also contains sulforaphane, which is believed to reduce the risk for specific kinds of cancer by limiting the damaging effects of carcinogens and triggering your body’s immune system to respond appropriately to cellular damage that can lead to cancer. Sulforaphane on the skin level protects against UV damage and helps maintain lifelong collagen production.

To be complete do not forget plain yogurt esp. Greek. Why Greek? More protein and less sodium and, because all lactose goes out with the whey, less sugar and carbohydrates. Added bonus, its thick consistency keeps you full longer. Yogurt’s probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties, think-less breakouts, and flareups like acne and psoriasis. Of course, it will promote hydration and smoother skin. And we all know how it helps good bacteria in our gut.

Yes, dark chocolate is also good for skin health. Antioxidant-rich will help with hydration making your skin less likely to sunburn, also improves blood flow. Any antioxidant makes it easier for nutrients to get to skin cells.

We’ve talked about the good and now the bad. 

A good rule is that food bad for your health is also bad for your skin. Processed food, foodstuff containing refined sugars, complex carbohydrates are going to accelerate or age us and can make any skin problem worst or cause a flareup.

You Should Know, So Please Read

We need humility in dealing with this virus. The euphoria of ‘re-opening, for many this belief, is premature. I wish we did not hear or read another word on this virus, but not our reality!  The names may have changed by WHO by using the Greek letters rather than the name of the site it originated in, no matter the name this virus is still a concern (see table below). The genome of the original continues to mutate with established or suspected phenotypic implications. Separated into ‘variants of concern’ & ‘variants of interest’ (seven at this posting), the medical world has not relaxed about this virus quite yet.

You Should Know, So Please Read

You Should Know, So Please Read

There is a reason a few days ago the UK delayed opening up. The Delta variant (alias Indian variant) is 90% of the new cases and 60% more transmissible and landing 20-29 y.o. in hospital. So still masks!

The CDC and OSHA recommend plexiglass barriers as protection against the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing can’t be practiced. Ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities. Think about putting folks in large buildings or floors in open cubicles with shared ventilation systems. Yes, filters and much more would be needed to get me into that setting. 

BTW, the ‘3-foot distance’ CDC recommendation doesn’t apply to a gym or health club, a choir, or contact sports. “This is only for everyday living in a lower risk environment,”

Have children going to attend in-person classes, please read what CDC is continuing to recommend despite the perceived ‘end’ to the pandemic.

This year we may see a ‘booster vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 given at the same time as the annual flu ‘shot’. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said that COVID vaccines may be co-administered

Don’t Be Faked Out By Food Labeling Tricks, Part II Trans Fat & Decaf

What you eat defines you or at least your health! This week I will share hidden trans fats in our foods. Despite deemed no longer safe to consume, it still is very much present in our food supply. Read how again we are faked out when it comes to trans fat and ‘decaf’.

Hidden trans fats

Back in the day, the food industry said trans fat was a healthy alternative to butter and lard. The FDA declared them no longer safe to consume, which greatly reduced their use. But the partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—found in foods like margarine, coffee creamer, chips, and more—are loaded in dangerous trans fatty acids. Medically they raise LDL (bad cholesterol), lower HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels, so therefore we are left with an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Sadly in the US, they’re not gone from the food supply. FDA spokesperson Dani Schor explained in an interview with MDLinx that some PHOs are approved as food additives, and food manufacturers may still obtain approval for certain uses of PHOs in foods. On top of that foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving are listed on the nutrition label as “trans fat, 0 grams.”

Furthermore, all liquid vegetable oils that have been “deodorized” during the refining process—to give them their bland taste that consumers want—contain some trans fat, according to a blogpost by Guy Crosby, Ph.D., a food chemistry researcher and adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan’s School of Public Health. Another fake out these trans fats is not included in the product’s labeling. These oils include the four most popular ones consumed in the United States—soybean, corn, canola, and palm.

Eating foods with even small amounts of trans fat regularly can add up to a dangerous amount with time. So what to do? 

Don’t be faked out choose oils, select extra virgin, first cold-pressed oils from reputable, high-quality sources. Scan ingredient lists for the words “shortening,” or “hydrogenated” oils. If you are eating out avoid deep-fried foods.

Need to pay special attention to the ingredients lists and labels for PHOs when it comes to: 

  • Shortening/margarine
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Packaged snacks like chips
  • Baked goods or doughnuts
  • Ready-to-use dough or frozen pizza
  • Fried foods, including french fries and chicken
  • Coffee creamer

There are some ‘good fats’ take time when you can to check out this article.

The lie of ‘decaf’

Believe me when I say the food industry is not required to clearly list the amount of caffeine per serving on the nutrition label. Yes, the most used drug in the world is not ‘controlled’. And you are correct coffee is the most common way it gets into our bodies. The debate of is caffeine good or bad for your health has been going on for decades. Read my blog on bladder cancer and caffeine. Forgetting about the add ons, sugar, cream mocha – by the numbers Mayo Clinic says, up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is safe for most adults—that’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four 8 oz cups of brewed coffee or about 8 cups of black tea. A rough estimate is about 100 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee and 50 mg per cup of black tea. safe caffeine consumption means no more than 400 mg per day. A greater amount can result in anxiousness, insomnia, rapid heart rate, stomach upset, headache, and horrible illness. Toxicity causes seizures that can occur at the consumption level of 1,200 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine is contraindicated for patients taking certain medications, have certain heart irregularities to the rhythm. Also, the National Institute of Health ( NIH) advising pregnant women to limit or skip even moderate caffeine consumption. Yes, this comes out of a recent study published in JAMA which found that consuming even small amounts of caffeine—equivalent to half a cup of coffee per day—was associated with lower birth weight. And as you know the present-day rage is adding caffeine to many popular foods and soft drinks. Many thankfully list the amount of caffeine. Red Bull seems early on (1987, Austria) to jump-start one’s energy with 111 mg of caffeine per can (12 oz.). Check out a past blog on the cardiac effects of caffeinated drinks. The most caffeinated drink on the market is ‘Spike‘ coming in at 350 mg caffeine in a 16 oz can. For more on the top ten caffeine drinks check out this article. Don't Be Faked Out By Food Labeling Tricks Part II

“Decaf” doesn’t mean caffeine-free and cups can quickly add up. The Starbuck website lists the caffeine content of its decaf coffee at 25 mg per 16 oz cup. Espresso drinks, even if a  decaf “shot” can contain up to 16 mg of caffeine, according to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Most espresso drinks use at least 2 shots, meaning a decaf espresso drink can have as much caffeine as a can of regular Coca-Cola (34 mg for a 12-ounce can). And don’t think the Mocha syrup, does not add more caffeine – it does!

The best way to avoid caffeine? Choose iced or hot herbal tea. 

Don’t Be Faked Out By Food Labeling

Naturally, if you are anything like me you rely on the veracity and hence accuracy of food labeling. Is there truth in labeling? We know there isn’t in advertising. Companies have discovered the right buzzword or phrase on the face of the product allows for a fake-out. Front-of-package nutrition labeling seems consumer-friendly but can imply incorrectly it is a healthier choice.

I want to mention, in this blog, a few tricks that make some products sound healthy than they really are. 

FIBER FAKE OUT

Don't Be Faked Out By Food Labeling TricksThe most common ‘fake out’ deals with the fiber content in a product. The minimum recommended adult daily allowance for dietary fiber is 28 grams a day for a 2,000 calorie diet. But increasing intake of dietary fiber helps your heart, lower blood pressure, glucose (sugar), and cholesterol levels; never mind the aid our bowels functioning properly. The bonus is the sense of satiety, which leads to eating less and weighing less!

New labeling allows a blur between fiber and sugar as defined by FDA. Manufacturers can now count a slew of additives known as synthetic or isolated nondigestible carbohydrates as part of a food’s total fiber count. Examples are these additives: alginate, guar gum, polydextrose, phosphorylated starch, and even something called hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.

Dress up junk food with these additives and it can be made to sound health. Not really contributing to the benefit of fiber.

My solution is always to get fiber from natural sources and that includes whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, or vegetables and fruit.

WHOLE GRAINS FAKE OUT

Next is whole grains ( bran, germ, and endosperm of a whole grain kernel) well Whole Grainsassociated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and digestive problems. So yes, we need this in our daily diets.  Additives like molasses or colorants and other grain products make it sound like ‘multigrain’. And you might see this on the front of the packaging. Use of several different grains, all of which may be fully refined and stripped of their health benefits might also be included. So if you read ‘made with whole grain’ it can in reality be a very small amount of whole grains compared to the amount of refined grain. Eva Greenthal, MS, MPH, senior science policy associate with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), says “Don’t be fooled by the words ‘wheat flour.’ Look for 100% whole wheat bread. The word ‘whole’ is key.” 

Next week we will discuss the hidden trans fats even though deemed no longer safe to consume, it still is very much present in our food supply.

Astonishing Medical News – Mushrooms, HIV, Depression

Prostate Saving Ingredient – White Capped Mushroomsastonishing medical news

Recently found that prostate cancer cells mixed with white button mushroom extract suppressed androgen receptor activity

The chemicals present in white button mushrooms may slow the progression of prostate cancer, Androgens, a type of male sex hormone, promote the growth of prostate cancer cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells,” the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer center in Duarte, Calif

The original investigational study was done in mice.

Now a phase one clinical trial of white button mushroom powder for patients with recurrent prostate cancer is finding that the mushrooms reduced levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, with minimal side effects.

HIV Vaccine -First Human Trialsastonishing medical news

HIV affects more than 38 million people globally, and other than a multidrug regimen, no vaccine has been in the cards till now. The clinical trial, IAVI G001, took place at two sites: George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, enrolling 48 healthy adult volunteers. Participants received either a placebo or two doses of the vaccine compound, eOD-GT8 60mer, along with an adjuvant developed by the pharmaceutical company GSK. Funded by Bill Gates foundation and grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The idea behind this novel approach is to aim to trigger the right ‘B’ cells—cells that have special properties giving them the potential to develop into broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAb-secreting cells).

The vaccine showed success in stimulating the production of the rare immune cells needed to generate antibodies against the fast-mutating virus—and the targeted response was detected in 97 percent of participants who received the vaccine. Yes a small study group, and yes phase 1 but this might be just what it will take to protect from this devasting virus.

Depression In Your Blood

Worldwide, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a depressive episode in their lifetime. At present, the diagnosis of depression and its treatment are hit or miss. A ‘breakthrough’ study opens new light on many mood disorders by offering a promising blood test aimed at a precision approach to medical care.*

Young people — specifically those ages 18 to 24 — were mentally hit the hardest during the pandemic. Hard to study the brain of this population for mood disorders you can cut into it. So this blood identification of a biomarker is very helpful. The study of over four years of 300 participants used a four-step approach of discovery, prioritization, validation, and testing. each point when mood disorder was noted blood was drawn and studied for RNA biomarkers. The team also found that mood disorders are underlined by circadian clock genes — that is we have genes that regulate seasonal, day-night, and sleep-wake cycles.

This is the work of Alexander B. Niculescu, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine, who worked on finding blood biomarkers that track suicidality as well as pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.