Archive for March 2022

INFLAMMATION

A.  Foods cause inflammation 

AVOID ✖️

1 SUGAR,

CANDY, 

PROCESSED FOODS 

2 SODA, SPORTS & ENERY DRINKS

3 FULLY HYDROGENATED OILS

IN SNACKS, FOODS, CHIPS, MARGARINE,
PEANUT BUTTER

4 TRANS FAT:

FAST FOODS,

COOKIES 

CAKES 

CRACKERS 

5 MILK

6 FRIED FOODS

7 SATURATED FATS:

CHEESE 

FATTY BEEF & 

BUTTER

8 MEATS (GRAIN FED)

9 PROCESSED MEATS:

LUNCH MEATS, 

HOT DOGS, 

CURED MEATS

10 ALCOHOL >7d/w

11 REFINED CARBS:

BREAD, 

PASTA, 

FLOUR, 

CRACKERS, 

LOW FIBRE CEREAL

12 GLUTIN:

BREAD, 

BAKED GOODS, 

SOUPS, 

PASTA, 

CEREAL,

SAUCES & 

SALAD DRESSINGS

13 ARTIFICIAL SWEETNER

14 MSG CHINESE

15 PRESERVATIVES

ARTIFICIAL COLORING 

16 PERSONAL FOOD INTOLERANCES:

EGGS

CORN

NUTS

WHEAT 

SOY

DAIRY

B. Foods to reduce inflammation

INGEST✔️

HERBS:

GARLIC

OREGANO 

TUMERIC

CINNAMON 

ROSEMARY 

CLOVES

OLIVE OIL EXTRA VIRGIN

NUTS

SEEDS

LEFY GREENS:

SPINACH

ARUGULA 

KALE

(VITAMIN K)

BERRIES

FATTY FISH:

ANCHOVIES

HERRING

TUNA

SALMON (ALASKAN FRESH)

SARDINES

LEGUMES

WHOLE & CRACKED GRAINS

TOFU ORGANIC

MUSHROOMS ASIAN SHIITAKE 

EGGS omega3

TUMERIC

GINGER

TEA:

GREEN

WHITE

OOLONG

CHOCOLATE DARK

Kidney Stones

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that you have a kidney stone, you may have diagnostic tests and procedures, such as:

  • Blood testing. Blood tests may reveal too much calcium or uric acid in your blood. Blood test results help monitor the health of your kidneys and may lead your doctor to check for other medical conditions.
  • Urine testing. The 24-hour urine collection test may show that you’re excreting too many stone-forming minerals or too few stone-preventing substances. For this test, your doctor may request that you perform two urine collections over two consecutive days.
  • Imaging. Imaging tests may show kidney stones in your urinary tract. High-speed or dual energy computerized tomography (CT) may reveal even tiny stones. Simple abdominal X-rays are used less frequently because this kind of imaging test can miss small kidney stones.

Ultrasound, a noninvasive test that is quick and easy to perform, is another imaging option to diagnose kidney stones.

  • Analysis of passed stones. You may be asked to urinate through a strainer to catch stones that you pass. Lab analysis will reveal the makeup of your kidney stones. Your doctor uses this information to determine what’s causing your kidney stones and to form a plan to prevent more kidney stones.

Treatment

Treatment for kidney stones varies, depending on the type of stone and the cause.

Small stones with minimal symptoms

Most small kidney stones won’t require invasive treatment. You may be able to pass a small stone by:

  • Drinking water. Drinking as much as 2 to 3 quarts (1.8 to 3.6 liters) a day will keep your urine dilute and may prevent stones from forming. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, drink enough fluid — ideally mostly water — to produce clear or nearly clear urine.
    • Pain relievers. Passing a small stone can cause some discomfort. To relieve mild pain, your doctor may recommend pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
    • Medical therapy. Your doctor may give you a medication to help pass your kidney stone. This type of medication, known as an alpha blocker, relaxes the muscles in your ureter, helping you pass the kidney stone more quickly and with less pain. Examples of alpha blockers include tamsulosin (Flomax) and the drug combination dutasteride and tamsulosin (Jalyn).

Large stones and those that cause symptoms

Kidney stones that are too large to pass on their own or cause bleeding, kidney damage or ongoing urinary tract infections may require more-extensive treatment. Procedures may include:

  • Using sound waves to break up stones. For certain kidney stones — depending on size and location — your doctor may recommend a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL).

ESWL uses sound waves to create strong vibrations (shock waves) that break the stones into tiny pieces that can be passed in your urine. The procedure lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and can cause moderate pain, so you may be under sedation or light anesthesia to make you comfortable.

ESWL can cause blood in the urine, bruising on the back or abdomen, bleeding around the kidney and other adjacent organs, and discomfort as the stone fragments pass through the urinary tract.

  • Surgery to remove very large stones in the kidney. A procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy (nef-row-lih-THOT-uh-me) involves surgically removing a kidney stone using small telescopes and instruments inserted through a small incision in your back.

You will receive general anesthesia during the surgery and be in the hospital for one to two days while you recover. Your doctor may recommend this surgery if ESWL is unsuccessful.

  • Using a scope to remove stones. To remove a smaller stone in your ureter or kidney, your doctor may pass a thin lighted tube (ureteroscope) equipped with a camera through your urethra and bladder to your ureter.

Once the stone is located, special tools can snare the stone or break it into pieces that will pass in your urine. Your doctor may then place a small tube (stent) in the ureter to relieve swelling and promote healing. You may need general or local anesthesia during this procedure.

  • Parathyroid gland surgery. Some calcium phosphate stones are caused by overactive parathyroid glands, which are located on the four corners of your thyroid gland, just below your Adam’s apple. When these glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (hyperparathyroidism), your calcium levels can become too high and kidney stones may form as a result.

Hyperparathyroidism sometimes occurs when a small, benign tumor forms in one of your parathyroid glands or you develop another condition that leads these glands to produce more parathyroid hormone. Removing the growth from the gland stops the formation of kidney stones. Or your doctor may recommend treatment of the condition that’s causing your parathyroid gland to overproduce the hormone.

Prevention

Prevention of kidney stones may include a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.

Lifestyle changes

You may reduce your risk of kidney stones if you:

  • Drink water throughout the day. For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend drinking enough fluids to pass about 2.1 quarts (2 liters) of urine a day. Your doctor may ask that you measure your urine output to make sure that you’re drinking enough water.

If you live in a hot, dry climate or you exercise frequently, you may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine. If your urine is light and clear, you’re likely drinking enough water.

  • Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods. If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate, black pepper and soy products.
  • Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein. Reduce the amount of salt you eat and choose nonanimal protein sources, such as legumes. Consider using a salt substitute, such as Mrs. Dash.
  • Continue eating calcium-rich foods, but use caution with calcium supplements.Calcium in food doesn’t have an effect on your risk of kidney stones. Continue eating calcium-rich foods unless your doctor advises otherwise.

Ask your doctor before taking calcium supplements, as these have been linked to increased risk of kidney stones. You may reduce the risk by taking supplements with meals. Diets low in calcium can increase kidney stone formation in some people.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian who can help you develop an eating plan that reduces your risk of kidney stones.

Medications

Medications can control the amount of minerals and salts in the urine and may be helpful in people who form certain kinds of stones. The type of medication your doctor prescribes will depend on the kind of kidney stones you have. Here are some examples:

  • Calcium stones. To help prevent calcium stones from forming, your doctor may prescribe a thiazide diuretic or a phosphate-containing preparation.
  • Uric acid stones. Your doctor may prescribe allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim) to reduce uric acid levels in your blood and urine and a medicine to keep your urine alkaline. In some cases, allopurinol and an alkalizing agent may dissolve the uric acid stones.
  • Struvite stones. To prevent struvite stones, your doctor may recommend strategies to keep your urine free of bacteria that cause infection, including drinking fluids to maintain good urine flow and frequent voiding. In rare cases long-term use of antibiotics in small or intermittent doses may help achieve this goal. For instance, your doctor may recommend an antibiotic before and for a while after surgery to treat your kidney stones.
  • Cystine stones. Along with suggesting a diet lower in salt and protein, your doctor may recommend that you drink more fluids so that you produce a lot more urine,. If that alone doesn’t help, your doctor may also prescribe a medication that increases the solubility of cystine in your urine.

Foods High In Antioxidants

There’s a huge variety of foods that eliminate cancer-causing free radicals and lead to better health. Antioxidants remove free radicals from the body which can run rampant and actually damage cells, causing serious illness. Many health professionals use them for treatments of stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They have also been helpful in treating brain injury and may slow and even prevent development of cancers.


There are numerous choices for antioxidant-rich foods: small red beans, wild blueberries, pinto beans, cultivated blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, red delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, pecans, sweet cherries, black plums, russet potatoes, black beans, plums, gala apples, dark leafy greens.

Don’t like any foods on the list? Not to worry. The American Dietetic Association has jumped on the band wagon with their comprehensive guide to foods highest in antioxidants arranged by food groups:



Fruits.

Many fruits are high in antioxidants, packed with vitamins, and beneficial in a myriad of ways. These include cranberries, red grapes, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, red currants, figs, cherries, pears, guava, oranges, apricots, mango, red grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, and tomatoes.


Dried Fruits

With the water removed, the antioxidant ratio is higher in dried fruits than in fresh. They can easily be carried with you in your purse, briefcase or car and they make a quick healthy snack. Consider taking along dried pears, plums, apples, peaches, figs, dates and raisins. However, be careful of sugar content; avoid dried fruits that have processed sugars added to them to make them sweeter.


Vegetables


Didn’t your mother always tell you to eat your vegetables? Broccoli, spinach, carrots and potatoes are all high in antioxidants, and so are artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, avocados, beetroot, radish, lettuce, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, collard greens and kale.


Spices and Herbs


Using lots of spices in cooking is good. Many are loaded with antioxidants, like cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, parsley, basil, curry powder, mustard seed, ginger, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic, coriander, onion and cardamom. Herbs include sage, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, peppermint, oregano, savory, basil and dill weed. All contribute complexity and flavor to your meals, but also are high in antioxidants.


Cereals and Nuts


Your morning corn flakes, oatmeal and granola bars pack a healthy punch, as do walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts and even that peanut butter sandwich.


Beverages


Contrary to popular belief, most of our antioxidants come from beverages. Apple juice, cider, tomato juice, pomegranate juice and pink grapefruit juice seem obvious, and green tea has become very popular as a source, but black tea and plain tea have high levels also. Here’s good news for those who love that cup of joe in the morning: coffee is high but should be consumed in moderation. Note that adding milk to coffee or tea blocks antioxidants. Speaking of moderation, red wine and especially beer (since it comes from grains) provide a big dose, and the healthy effects of moderate alcohol consumption have been well documented.

“Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in a myriad of colors. Don’t just focus on the top 2 or 3 choices. Foods with darker, richer colors like orange, yellow, blue, and red tend to be higher in antioxidants, and with all these choices, you’ll never become bored or run out of delicious, nutritious options. Variety is the spice of life.”

The Mediterranean-style diet offers a lot of health benefits

A distinct version of the Mediterranean diet is followed on the Blue Zone island of Ikaria, Greece. It emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products.

Consume Fish in Abundance

Seafood fans will rejoice over a diet that recommends a minimum of 2 to 3 servings of fish each week! The benefits are right there in the filet. It’s a fact that most fish—including fresh salmon, mackerel, herring, blue and albacore tuna, sardines, and even anchovies—is a rich source of omega-3 healthy fats.

While the Mediterranean diet puts more of an emphasis on fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, Eating Well says lean fish like cod and tilapia are still viable options. If you’re not used to eating a lot of fish, no worries. Aim for at least one fish night a week. There are tons of easy, no fuss, no mess ways to cook fish. If you don’t like eating it on its own, you can always incorporate it into other foods like a soup, salad, taco, or stir-fry.

Pour on the Olive Oil

Sure, the Mediterranean diet allows fats—if they come from heart-healthy olive oil rather than from artery-clogging saturated fats from butters, margarines, red meat, and cheese. Instead of cooking with vegetable or coconut oil, the Mediterranean diet has people using olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil.

According to Eating Well, olive oil is “rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which may improve HDL cholesterol, the ‘good’ type of cholesterol.” The best ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet is with salad dressings and vinaigrettes. You can drizzle it on dishes like chicken and fish to boost the flavour or simply swap it out in recipes of mashed potatoes, pasta, etc.

Be Moderate with Dairy

Low fat dairy products can be very healthy on a limited basis. That’s why the Greeks dismiss most high fat cheeses and cream sauces from the table in favor of Greek yogurt, which they consume in small quantities at breakfast or for snacks (i.e., tzatziki).

The problem with non-fat and low-fat dairy is that it tends to have sugar in it which is how it’s able to taste as good as those full-fat products that it’s competing with. Sydney Greene, MS, RD, talked to Eat This, Not That! and said the best thing to do is limit dairy intake to only a few times a week and choose plan, full-fat options that contain gut-friendly probiotics. “A whole-milk Greek yogurt will keep you more full than 0 percent yogurt, so you will be less likely to snack on less healthy options. Not a fan of plain yogurts? Flavor them with cinnamon or vanilla bean powder.”

Avoid Anything Processed

We’ve already established that the Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh, local, whole foods, which means anything packaged, canned, or boxed is avoided due to excess sodium, sugar, fats, and artificial additives that really do more harm than good to our bodies.

Only Healthy Whole Grains

Sure, pasta, bread, and rice can be part of your Mediterranean diet experience, as long you eat the kind that’s made using whole grains—and not the kind that’s manufactured using bleached, processed flour. Refined carbs are terrible for blood sugar, which is why the Mediterranean diet has people opting for whole grains.

Aim for about four small daily portions of whole-wheat bread, pasta or quinoa. The same source encourages eating these whole grains with some healthy fats and a protein. When it comes to eating pasta, using either whole grain pasta or legume-based noodles made out of black beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Shun Sugar

One of the most difficult parts of the Mediterranean diet is cutting out sugar. Suddenly, everything from your favorite cookie to your bar of chocolate of choice will be off limits. Focus on whole, natural sugars from sources like fresh fruit, fruit salads, and honey.

Cheers to Wine

Drinking wine, in moderation, is a big part of the Mediterranean diet. However, keep in mind that this is not an open invitation to over-imbibe. The Greeks consume only 1 to 2 glasses of wine per day, and typically only with meals. Women should only have a three-ounce serving of wine a day and men a 5-ounce serving per day.

Enjoy Regular Activities

The lifestyle portion of the Mediterranean diet focuses on a favorite physical active every day. It doesn’t matter what the activity is — biking, walking, gardening, yoga, running, or swimming — the idea is to enjoy working and moving every day.

Pass on Red Meat

If your diet consists mainly of unhealthy animal fats (i.e., beef, lamb, and pork); you’re bound to end up with high cholesterol, weight gain, and heart issues down the road. That’s why the Mediterranean diet allows small portions of lean, red meat purely in moderation. Instead, stick to white meats like fish, chicken, turkey, and seafood for lower fat, healthier meat protein sources in your meals.

Healthy Fats

Most people hear the word ‘fat’ and run in the other direction! While it’s true we don’t want to eat fatty foods, but there is such thing as healthy fats and the Mediterranean diet encourages people to make smart choices about the fats they eat. Stay away from saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats) which contribute to heart disease, and eat more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

Eat more healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil. The Mediterranean diet also encourages eating more foods with omega-3 fatty acids which can help “lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure,” writes Mayo Clinic. Since the Mediterranean diet eats lots of fish, we can’t forget those fatty fish, says Mayo Clinic, like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon, which are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables

The main components of a Mediterranean diet includings fruits, vegetables, pasta and rice. While lots of pasta and rice aren’t necessarily healthy, the majority of their diet is actually fruits and vegetables which as we all know are the best foods for us. The Mayo Clinic points out that people who live by this diet, primarily Greek residents, tend to eat meals with very little red meat and an average of 9 servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables a day! So if you’re planning on trying this diet in 2019, you’ve been forewarned that you’ll be eating lots of fruits and veggies!

Healthline suggests loading up on more tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cucumbers. When it comes to fruits, try eating more apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons and peaches.

Drink Lots of Water

Possibly one of the biggest selling points about trying the Mediterranean diet is the ability to drink red wine (in moderation!), but what’s more important on this diet is drinking lots and lots of water. You may also drink coffee and tea, but do not indulge in any sugar sweeteners or beverages that are high in sugar like fruit juice and soda.

Eat More Nuts and Seeds

Usually we’re told to be cautious with nuts because they are high in fat, but they also have some awesome health benefits. The fat that they do contain is not saturated, says the Mayo Clinic, and the Mediterranean diet encourages people to eat more healthy unsaturated fats. Healthline suggests incorporating more almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Even though nuts and seeds are an important part of the Mediterranean diet, do not eat them in excess because they are high in calories. No more than a handful a day, says Mayo Clinic.

You can also add some extra flavor to meals by eating more herbs and spices like garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper.

It’s Not About Counting Calories

Most people don’t like diets because they tend to focus a lot on counting calories, food points, food diaries, all that nonsense. The nice thing about the Mediterranean diet is that people who are on it don’t have to count their calories or feel like they are starving themselves. It’s more about making healthier choices than it is about limiting food. People who are on this diet are required to eat more plant-based foods and healthy fats and less processed foods which seems simple enough, and quite frankly, makes the most sense!

Another thing that is important about this diet and a good thing to keep in mind while on it is that it’s not a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle. This is a diet that could be maintained long term. “First, to set fears aside, the Mediterranean diet is not a ‘diet’ in the sense that its purpose is not to help you lose weight. Rather, it’s a style of eating that emphasizes a well-balanced eating plan,” says NYC-based registered dietitian, Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to Eat This, Not That. It’s not about restricting a person’s diet. It’s more about living a healthier lifestyle.

The European lifestyle is known to promote good health, and it seems like a good portion of Europeans having lean bodies that can make you green with envy. Like many other European diets, the Mediterranean-style diet offers a lot of health benefits, and is worth considering incorporating into your own diet. What makes the diet so healthy is a combination of things, from fresh produce to olive oil and specific meats. When combined with the fact that Europeans tend to get regular exercise from walking pretty much everywhere, you have a complete healthy lifestyle that if mimicked, could leave you with lower risk of many serious health conditions and better overall health.

1. Lower Risk of Heart Disease

A main ingredient in Mediterranean cooking and flavoring is olive oil. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which is a good component for a healthy heart. On the other hand, consuming foods high in saturated fats contribute to heart disease. Many Mediterranean dishes are cooked using oil instead of butter, and sauces and dressings include olive oil as one of the main ingredients.

Mix in different types of balsamic vinegars—whatever flavors you like—with oil, and you have a healthy salad dressing. There’s no need to buy pre-made salad dressings full of unnecessary fats when you can create a simple and easy healthy dressing with only a couple ingredients. Plus, the fresher the better, and a bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes a tasty salad topper.

2. Lower Risk of Diabetes

Olive oil has many health benefits. Since Mediterranean-style diets use olive oil in a number of ways, you’re likely to benefit from it if you follow the diet. Research studies have shown that olive oil, and specifically the Mediterranean diet, could help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers believe the high amount of rich minerals and phytochemicals found in a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. Your body needs to successfully break down sugars. If it can’t do this properly, you can be at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

3. Prevent High Blood Pressure

What you eat directly impacts your blood pressure, and the Mediterranean diet has food that can lower your blood pressure. On top of this, the diet consists of healthy foods that won’t increase your blood pressure either. Genetics can play a role in whether or not you have high blood pressure, but an unhealthy diet containing lots of fat and salt can also greatly increase it.

With next to no processed foods in the Mediterranean-style diet, you won’t be consuming unnecessary sodium that will raise and keep your blood pressure up. High blood pressure can lead to hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, so this diet could help prevent these serious health risks.

4. Prevent Fatty Liver Disease

Many North Americans follow a diet full of processed foods that contain unnecessary fats, sugar, calories, and sodium. When following an unhealthy diet like this, there’s a greater risk of developing obesity, a main cause of fatty liver disease. The amount of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet helps rid a lot of saturated fats from your diet, which can help reduce the risk of fatty liver disease.

The diet also doesn’t include much red meat, since it’s full of saturated fats. Instead, chicken and mineral-rich fish are the meats of choice. And what and how much you eat of something that’s hard for your liver to process (like red meat) can lead to other liver diseases.

5. Potentially Longer Lifespan

Some studies link a longer lifespan to the Mediterranean-style diet. The diet can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which could ultimately contribute to people living longer lives. So start eating more fresh produce, nuts, seeds and olive oil to reap the health benefits, including the potential to live longer and lower your chance of heart problems.

While it would obviously be ideal to start this diet when you’re young and follow it throughout your life, research has shown that it can still positively affect those who are later in life. In fact, one study focused solely on people considered high risk for heart disease experienced a lower risk when they changed to the Mediterranean diet.

6. Improved Brain Function

Research suggests there is a correlation between the foods found in the Mediterranean-style and improved brain function, as well as a lower rate of mental health decline. As you age, your cognitive function declines, sometimes leading to serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

It’s also normal for slight memory loss and confusion to occur when you’re older that is not considered a symptom of a cognitive disease. The Mediterranean diet could help you stay intellectually spry as you age, so you can enjoy life to its fullest and potentially slow down the natural effects of aging.

7. Lower Risk of Cancer

On top of all the other serious conditions and diseases that the Mediterranean diet can help lower the risk of, it’s also been linked to reducing the risk of developing and dying from certain cancers. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is a main component of the diet, which is one of the reasons it may lower your risk of cancer—many fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are known to be anti-carcinogens. The nuts and oils prevalent in the Mediterranean diet also play a role in reducing inflammation and insulin, which could be a deterrent for development of some types of cancer.

8. Reduced Preservatives and Chemicals

The Mediterranean diet is full of fresh produce—vegetables, fruit, meat directly from the butcher and fish right from the ocean. This ensures you aren’t eating pre-made and processed foods that usually contain a lot of chemicals and preservatives that just aren’t good for anyone.

If you look at something as common as a box of frozen chicken, the ingredient list is usually several lines long—you aren’t just eating chicken. Pre-made foods put a lot of potentially harmful ingredients into your system, as well as extra sodium, fat, sugar and calories. By following the Mediterranean-style diet, you’ll avoid these ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

9. Increased Antioxidant Consumption

Antioxidants are all the craze right now. List after list of superfoods contain items that are high in antioxidants. They’ve been linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers but the benefits don’t stop there—they have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and may help prevent heart disease, lower the risk of developing diabetes, give the immune system a boost, and have anti-aging effects.

Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants

  • Dark Chocolate.
  • Pecans.
  • Blueberries.
  • Strawberries.
  • Artichokes.
  • Goji Berries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Kale.

That’s a big list of potential benefits, and all you have to do is eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Try different kinds and things you’ve never had before. There’s no reason you can’t explore new foods!

10. Reduced Chance of Parkinson’s Disease

There’s some controversy about whether or not a Mediterranean-style diet could reduce your chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, but there are enough scientists out that believe there is a connection that it’s worth considering.


BLUE ZONES DIET

The five places in the world – dubbed
blue zones – where people live the longest, and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica;
Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.

People in the blue zones eat an impressive variety of garden vegetables when they are in season, and then they pickle or dry the surplus to enjoy during the off-season. The best-of-the-best longevity foods are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards.  Combined with seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans dominate blue zones meals all year long.

Many oils derive from plants, and they are all preferable to animal-based fats. We cannot say that olive oil is the only healthy plant-based oil, but it is the one most often used in the blue zones. Evidence shows that olive oil consumption increases good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. In Ikaria, we found that for middle-aged people, about six tablespoons of olive oil daily seemed to cut the risk of dying in half.

People in four of the five blue zones consume meat, but they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavor dishes. Research suggests that 30-year-old vegetarian Adventists will likely outlive their meat-eating counterparts by as many as eight years. At the same time, increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your meals has many salutary effects. Beans, greens, yams and sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and seeds should all be favored. Whole grains are OK too. Try a variety of fruits and vegetables; know which ones you like, and keep your kitchen stocked with them 

RETREAT FROM MEAT

Averaging out consumption in blue zones, we found that people ate about two ounces or less about five times per month. And we don’t know if they lived longer despite eating meat.

The Adventist Health Study 2, which has been following 96,000 Americans since 2002, has found that the people who lived the longest were vegans or pesco vegetarians, who ate a plant-based diet that included a small amount of fish.

So, while you may want to celebrate from time to time with chicken, pork or beef, we don’t recommend it as part of a Blue Zones Diet. Okinawans probably offer the best meat substitute: extra firm tofu, high in protein and cancer-fighting phyto-estrogens.

GO EASY ON FISH

If you must eat fish, fewer than three ounces, up to three times weekly. In most blue zones, people ate some fish but less than you might think—up to three small servings a week. There are other ethical and health considerations involved in including fish in your diet. It makes sense, for example, to select fish that are common and abundant, not threatened by overfishing. In the world’s blue zones, in most cases, the fish being eaten are small, relatively inexpensive fish such as sardines, anchovies, and cod—middle-of-the-food- chain species that are not exposed to the high levels of mercury or other chemicals like PCBs that pollute our gourmet fish supply today.

People in the blue zones don’t overfish the waters like corporate fisheries that threaten to deplete entire species. Blue zones fishermen cannot afford to wreak havoc on the ecosystems they depend on. Again, fish is not a necessary part of a longevity diet but if you must eat seafood elect fish that are common and not threatened by overfishing.

REDUCE DAIRY

Milk from cows doesn’t figure significantly in any blue zones diet except that of some

Adventists. Arguments against milk often focus on its high fat and sugar content. The number of people who (often unknowingly) have some difficulty digesting lactose may be as high as 60 percent. Goat’s and sheep’s milk products figure into the Ikarian and Sardinian blue zones.

We don’t know if it’s the goat’s milk or sheep’s milk that makes people healthier or if it’s the fact that they climb up and down the same hilly terrain as the goats do. Interestingly though, most goat’s milk is consumed not as liquid but fermented as yogurt, sour milk, or cheese. Although goat’s milk contains lactose, it also contains lactase, an enzyme that helps the body digest lactose.

ELIMINATE EGGS

People in all of the blue zones eat eggs about two to four times per week. Usually they eat just one as a side dish with a whole-grain or plant-based dish. Nicoyans fry an egg to fold into a corn tortilla with a side of beans. Okinawans boil an egg in their soup. People in the Mediterranean blue zones fry an egg as a side dish with bread, almonds, and olives for breakfast. Blue zones eggs come from chickens that range freely, eat a wide variety of natural foods, and don’t receive hormones or antibiotics. Slowly matured eggs are naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

People with diabetes should be cautious about eating egg yolks. Consumption of eggs has been correlated to higher rates of prostate cancer for men and exacerbated kidney problems for women. Some people with heart or circulatory problems choose to forgo eggs. Again, eggs aren’t necessary for living a long life and we don’t recommend them, but if you must eat them eat no more than three eggs per week.

DAILY DOSE OF BEANS

Eat at least a half cup of cooked beans daily. Beans reign supreme in blue zones. They’re the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world: black beans in Nicoya; lentils, garbanzo, and white beans in the Mediterranean; and soybeans in Okinawa. People in the blue zones eat at least four times as many beans as Americans do on average.

The fact is, beans are the consummate superfood. On average, they are made up of 21 percent protein, 77 percent complex carbohydrates (the kind that deliver a slow and steady energy rather than the spike you get from refined carbohydrates like white flour), and only a few percent fat. They are also an excellent source of fiber. They’re cheap and versatile, come in a variety of textures, and are packed with more nutrients per gram than any other food on Earth. Beans are a meal staple in all five of the blue zones—with a dietary average of at least a half-cup per day, which provides most of the vitamins and minerals you need. And because beans are so hearty and satisfying, they’ll likely push less healthy foods out of your diet.

SLASH SUGAR

Consume only 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of added sugar daily. People in the blue zones eat sugar intentionally, not by habit or accident. They consume about the same amount of naturally occurring sugars as North Americans do, but only about a fifth as much added sugar—no more than seven teaspoons of sugar a day. It’s hard to avoid sugar. It occurs naturally in fruits, vegetables, and even milk. But that’s not the problem.

Between 1970 and 2000, the amount of added sugar in the American food supply rose by 25 percent. This adds up to about 22 teaspoons of added sugar each of us consumes daily—insidious, hidden sugars mixed into soda, yogurt, and sauces. Too much sugar in our diet has been shown to suppress the immune system. It also spikes insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes and lower fertility, make you fat, and even shorten your life.

Our advice: If you must eat sweets, save cookies, candy, and bakery items for special occasions, ideally as part of a meal. Limit sugar added to coffee, tea, or other foods to no more than four teaspoons per day. Skip any product that lists sugar among its first five ingredients.

SNACK ON NUTS

Eat two handfuls of nuts per day. A handful of nuts weighs about two ounces, the average amount that blue zones centenarians consume—almonds in Ikaria and Sardinia, pistachios in Nicoya, and all nuts with the Adventists. The Adventist Health Study 2 found that nut eaters outlive non–nut eaters by an average of two to three years.

The optimal mix of nuts: almonds (high in vitamin E and magnesium), peanuts (high in protein and folate, a B vitamin), Brazil nuts (high in selenium, a mineral found effective in protecting against prostate cancer), cashews (high in magnesium), and walnuts (high in alpha-linoleic acid, the only omega-3 fat found in a plant-based food). Walnuts, peanuts, and almonds are the nuts most likely to lower your cholesterol.

SOUR ON BREAD

Eat only sourdough or 100 percent whole wheat. Blue zones bread is unlike the bread most Americans buy. Most commercially available breads start with bleached white flour, which metabolizes quickly into sugar and spikes insulin levels. But bread from the blue zones is either whole grain or sourdough, each with its own healthful characteristics. In Ikaria and Sardinia, breads are made from a variety of whole grains such as wheat, rye, or barley, each of which offers a wide spectrum of nutrients, such as tryptophan, an amino acid, and the minerals selenium and magnesium.

Whole grains also have higher levels of fiber than most commonly used wheat flours. Some traditional blue zones breads are made with naturally occurring bacteria called lactobacilli, which “digest” the starches and glutens while making the bread rise. The process also creates an acid—the “sour” in sourdough. The result is bread with less gluten even than breads labeled “gluten free,” with a longer shelf life and a pleasantly sour taste that most people like. Traditional sourdough breads actually lower the glycemic load of meals, making your entire meal healthier, slower burning, easier on your pancreas, and more likely to make calories available as energy than stored as fat.

GO WHOLLY WHOLE

Choose foods that are recognizable. People in blue zones traditionally eat the whole food. They don’t throw the yolk away to make an egg-white omelet, or spin the fat out of their yogurt, or juice the fiber-rich pulp out of their fruits. They also don’t enrich or add extra ingredients to change the nutritional profile of their foods. Instead of taking vitamins or other supplements, they get everything they need from nutrient-dense, fiber-rich whole foods.

A good definition of a “whole food” would be one that is made of a single ingredient,

raw, cooked, ground, or fermented, and not highly processed. Tofu is minimally processed, for example, while cheese-flavored corn puffs are highly processed. Blue zones dishes typically contain a half dozen or so ingredients, simply blended together. Almost all of the foods consumed by centenarians in the blue zones grow within a 10- mile radius of their homes. They eat raw fruits and vegetables; they grind whole grains themselves and then cook them slowly. They use fermentation—an ancient way to make nutrients bio-available—in the tofu, sourdough bread, wine, and pickled vegetables they eat. And they rarely ingest artificial preservatives.

DRINK MOSTLY WATER

Never drink soft drinks (including diet soda). With very few exceptions, people in blue zones drank coffee, tea, water, and wine. Period. (Soft drinks, which account for about half of Americans’ sugar intake, were unknown to most blue zones centenarians.) There is a strong rationale for each.

WATER Adventists recommend seven glasses of water daily. They point to studies that

show that being hydrated facilitates blood flow and lessens the chance of a blood clot.

COFFEE 

Sardinians, Ikarians, and Nicoyans all drink copious amounts of coffee.

Research associates coffee drinking with lower rates of dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

TEA 

People in all the blue zones drink tea. Okinawans nurse green tea all day. Green tea has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and several cancers. Ikarians drink brews of rosemary, wild sage, and dandelion—all herbs known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

RED WINE 

People who drink—in moderation—tend to outlive those who don’t. (This

doesn’t mean you should start drinking if you don’t drink now.) People in most blue zones drink one to three small glasses of red wine per day, often with a meal and with friends.

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