Color Your Life with Colorful Plate—For the National Nutrition Month

March has been the National Nutrition Month since 1980, and it is a annul campaign for nutrition education and intervention. Stemmed from the “My plate”, a healthy eating reminder released by USDA last year, the theme for March 2012 is “Get your plate in shape.” For more information of NNM, please visit http://www.eatright.org/nnm/

A great family, a great school, a great job, and a great beloved give you a happy life. Have you ever think your diet can also color your life, make you healthier and protect you from diseases? Let’s get acquainted a colorful diet and see its magic.

Air pollution, smoking, and unhealthy diet generate free radicals in body that can cause severe diseases. Antioxidants protect body against free radicals, which can damage cell membrane, DNA, and molecules; many studies of antioxidants proved their common function in preventing heart disease, certain cancer, and premature aging. Fruits and vegetables are colorful since many of them are packed with abundant antioxidant substances of diverse colors—to be specific, these antioxidants are called phytochemicals. Different phytochemicals display different colors—orange, red, purple, white and green. Other than their common functions, they actually undertake specific tasks for your body.

Orange: sharpen your eyesight

Phytochemical: Carotenoid—food sources: carrot, kiwi, corn, pumpkin

Color orange has powerful antioxidant activities fighting against free radicals in our body. Besides, lutein, a kind of thousands different carotenoid, come help maintain your eye health. Macula is a special area responsible for central vision in retina; studies have found high concentration of lutein in this area and they can prevent damage of free radicals, thus decrease the chance of eye disease such as macular degeneration and cataract.

Red: protect your prostate

Phytochemical: Lycopene—food source: tomato

Lycopene is only found in tomato and its protection on prostate is also unique. Lycopene concentrates in prostate and help prevent free radicals damage on DNA of prostate cells. It is proven to be helpful in prostatitis and prominently prevent prostatoplasia and prostate cancer. But don’t think it just works for men; lycopene can prevent premature aging then also help women maintain their young face.

 Purple: guard your heart

Phytochemical: anthocyanin—food sources: grape, prune, eggplant

Anthocyanin majorly acts on cardiovascular system through relaxing blood vessels and improving blood circulations. It can also inhibit blood clotting thereby preventing stroke and heart failure. Interestingly, red wine has a high concentration of anthocyanin; however, the benefits of drinking red wine for a healthier heart still need further research.

White: soothe your belly

Phytochemicals: allicin—food source: garlic

The strong flavor of garlic is from allicin. Its prominent function on human is antibiotic and antifungal within the digestive system. Allicin can prolong the time of vitamins in our body and increase their absorptions. Though not proven in human, research suggests potential effect of allicin in reduing fat deposition and fat balance as a possible substance used in weight control in the future.

Green: save you liver

phytochemical: sulforahpane—food sources: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage

Sulforahpane is suggested of liver detoxication stimulant that helps the liver degrade toxic substances generated in the body. It is also prominent for cancer prevention.

Though you could have your favorite color in your childhood painting class, as to a healthy diet, don’t eat exclusively on specific color since different kind of fruits and vegetables can collaborate and achieve the best benefits. The best way to dining is to make your plate with at least 3 colors each meal with a combination of different veggies and fruits; of course, eat at less 5 portions a day!

Backup Force for “LINSANITY”

“Jeremy———–Lin!” Shouting echoed all night in the Madison Square Garden.

New York City, a city never lack of superstars, welcomes an Asian hero of its basketball team. One month ago, perhaps 99% Americans didn’t know who this guy was; today, if you don’t know this basketball marvel from Harvard, you definitely need to update your social network.

What makes a nobody sitting on the bench becomes a shining star in metropolitan? Hardworking, faith, support from family and friends play an important role. But besides these, what helps an Asian guy stand in the basketball court with other muscular Western players? The backup force is his paranormal diet.

Jeremy is 6’3”, 200 pounds, which is not outstanding amount basketball player. But when you look at his parents you know how “abnormal” he is—his parents are close to 5’6”. Jeremy was only 5’5” in high school; though he played so well, many college teams freezed him out due to his height. With his father’s support, he got consultation from dietitian, which maybe the turning point of his basketball career.

Time to uncover his diet and workout plan (disclosed by Lin in last year’s interview):

This diet sounds scary to Asian people, whose diet doesn’t contain so much meat. Yet, this diet pattern should sound very familiar to body-builders and professional trainer. With abundant lean meat, vitamins and minerals, and water, this diet pattern is designed for people exercise in high strength. Though the diet above might not be precise, it shows the core of sports nutrition.

Why do they need so much protein? In training and game time, human body is in stress state; they not only expend 50% more calories than average people, their protein catabolism also accelerate—even to the extent of negative nitrogen balance. A diet high in protein will not only compensate their energy loss, but also increase muscle strength, stimulate synthesis of hemoglobin, and finally increase retrieval. Besides, abundant micronutrients in the meal help to reduce oxidative stress, which keeps the body in equilibrium.

Though this diet looks attractive, it is not recommended to average people because overdose of protein places great burden on the kidneys, and large amount of metabolite accumulate ammonia and urea in body that may cause a series of adverse outcomes. So if you want to try out high protein diet, make sure to consult your doctor or dietitian.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Linsanity is not a mystery; it is narrative about super hardworking, endless family love, and precise science. Check out this video, you will love this guy:

Going to have a baby, but have to lose your “children”?

“When we decided to have a baby, I have to leave my Suzy and Rocky since my friends told me keeping pets during pregnancy is harmful for the baby,” my cousin Kat told me about her pregnant plan, staring at her cat and dog with tear in her eyes. Well, even though having a baby is really exciting, but for those who treat their pets like sons and daughters, leaving them is also heart breaking.

“I love my pets, but I am more concerned about my baby.” Kat, like many child-bearing age women, is very concerned about whether having pets during pregnancy will be harmful for the baby. Looking at their dilemma, I feel I should do something—to find out the truth behind this pending mystery.

Q1: What are the actual health concerns of keeping pets during pregnancy?

One of the major threats is contracting Toxoplasmosis, which is caused by parasite Toxoplasma and transmitted buy animals, especially cats. It might be surprised to know that according to CDC’s data, more than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry this parasite; however, very few have symptoms and actual health problem because the normally the immune system can keep the parasite from causing harm. However, women got infected during their pregnancy might suffer from severe outcomes. Potential harms can be miscarriage, stillborn, and baby congenital defects of the brain and eyes.

The parasite can exist in different animals. Eating raw beef, mutton, or drinking contaminated cow or goat’s milk might contract the disease. Cat is the only animal that can transmit toxoplasma spore through their feces and cat is proven to be the major vector of infection.

Q2: Can we take some prevention instead of just leaving the pets? Yes, we can—our lives should not have too many dilemma–you don’t need to let your pets go. Here are the things women before pregnency can do:

1. To have body check both for the women and the pets before pregnancy is the first thing can be done. Preconception women should have blood test about the toxoplasma antibody; if the result is positive, it will be wise to consult to your doctor for treatment before getting pregnant. For the pets, also give them a check; if the result is positive, try to cure them before getting pregnant.

2. Other than seeking out medical support, it is more important to create a hygiene and safe environment at home. Since cat feces are major factor in dissemination, pregnant women should not contact with cat excretion; all the sweeping works should be leaved to the husband or other family members. Also pregnant women should pay more attention on food preparation. Dishes should be cleaned by sterilant if they are contracted to a pet; also make sure that the chopping board is cleaned before you use it to cut cooked food.

3. Food choices will be another concern. Because raw egg or raw meat can contain parasite, you should make sure they are absolute sanitary; otherwise, cook the food exhaustively instead.

4. Try not to be too close to your pet will be another wise move. Since your cats and dogs might play around outside in the yard, they might carry some parasite with them even they are not infected. So clean your hand thoroughly after holding them; try to avoid kissing your pets or let them kiss you, and don’t let them come on your bed—I know they will be considerate for you for the nine months!

Hoo! Lack of some knowledge can often cause fear; after knowing the truth, many women now can heave a sigh of relief, getting ready to enjoy the moment of having a baby with their intimate pets!

To further explore about pregnancy and pets, here are some good websites:

American Pregnancy Associaton: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/pets.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention : http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/

Brain Booster–Ancient Panacea for Model Use

In today’s competitive times, even a slight improvement in efficiency at work can help you hold your position or get a promotion. Ginseng, which is an ancient herbal medicine from the Far East, has been used to improve physical and mental performance. Now it has drawn much of the Western world’s attention. In advanced research, ginseng has been shown to be safe and useful to improve the functions of different body systems–save you at this game time.

Professor David Kennedy, director of Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbia University, has worked with colleagues to test ginseng’s effects on mental function for the last ten years. Based on evidence from different types of studies, they can confidently say that ginseng has positive function on the brain.

One big discovery of their research is that ginseng helps you process numbers and words better. During an intensive math task in one study, study subjects who took ginseng used less time to finish and were 13% more accurate than those who take the placebo. Although computers and calculators are available in offices, you can work even faster on numbers or data with ginseng because in many cases you are more efficient at counting numbers in your head. As for verbal ability, researchers used a “working memory speed test” to assess subjects’ ability to remember and analyze verbal information. The outcome showed that both alphabet and word processing speed had been greatly improved; greater speed of these tasks helps people better process heavy and comprehensive mathematics and lingual works.

Another merit of ginseng is that it can help you focus better and respond faster. Recall that while you are working, it is so annoying to hear your colleagues chatting and gossiping in the office. Research has shown that subjects who took ginseng felt 10% more peace and responded 5-6% more rapidly to stimuli. When you are placid and efficient, you respond fast and precisely.

Why does ginseng have such effects on the brain? The answer is still not entirely clear. One possible explanation is that ginseng promotes mental transmission–it helps generate stronger brain signals and transport them more effectively. Another hypothesis is that ginseng can increase the uptake of blood sugar in human brain cells; when the brain has more energy to use, it can work better.

How can we take ginseng’s benefit?

One traditional and delicious way is making ginseng soup. Ancient Chinese people believed ginseng in hot soup is most effective for the body since its nutrients are entirely dissolved in the water. The best partner with ginseng is chicken. This following recipe is modified from a ready recipe of Ying Chang at Cooking Light:

Ingredients

5 sliced ginseng roots

2 pounds of skinless chicken breast

2 cups of fresh maize

2 sliced ginger

1/4 cup of medlar

4 cups of water

1/4 table spoon salt

1/2 teaspoon corn oil

Preparation

Heat corn oil in a pot over medium heat. Add ginger, wait till it turns brown. Add chicken sauté 2 minutes. Add water into pot. Medium heat boils for 20 minutes. Add ginseng, medlar, and maize, simmer 40 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.

Well, suppose you don’t have such cooking time but still enjoy ginseng’s taste, ginseng tea will be a good option for you. Pour boiling water in a cup with a few (based on how strong the taste you like) ginseng slices and let steep for 5 minutes (longer time if you like stronger taste). You can also add other herbs such as chrysanthemum and medlar to the tea.

What if you don’t like ginseng’s taste but still want its benefits? Another solution is to use ginseng supplement, which you can get in drug store over the counter.

Though common adverse effects of taking ginseng are slight, including headache, nausea, and difficulty of falling asleep, it is wise to check with your doctor before taking any herb. Pregnant and lactating women and children are not recommended to take ginseng.

Pictures from:

http://www.nutralegacy.com/blog/general-healthcare/the-benefits-of-ginseng/

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-ginseng-soup-10000000226797/

http://www.yenlin.com/

New Program, New Future

After undergoing tough debates and laborious negotiation, the new school lunch program, which attracts thousands of eyes, was announced last week by the First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in an upbeat atmosphere.

School lunch was urgent to be changed. From the war time to present, 60 years ago to now, US government has been endeavoring to help children stay healthy. But the focus of those advocacies has got an about-face: the nutrition epidemic has changed to obesity problem. According to the statistics from National CDC, approximately 17% of children and adolescents between 2 to19 are obese. Moreover, significant racial and ethnical disparities can be seen in obese prevalence. Black and Hispanic children are much more suspected to obesity, even more for those in low income families. The new rules, which are strictly updated evidence-based, nicely address the above problems and make a great breakthrough of school meals for almost 15 years.

From the start, the new school lunch program is successful because it raised attentions from many aspects. Before the announcement, USDA had received 132,000 public comments on the initiate plan. High number showed the high enthusiasm of participation from the public, at the same time the professionals got a chance to read through public ideas and made realistic changes.

While general public were giving out advices in a peaceful and hopeful way, another main participant, National Potato Council, came out tensely to the debate. Considering the over consumption of potatoes is one of the major downside in the school lunch, the U.S.D.A. kept trying to cut down the potatoes in school lunch. Though this request finally wasn’t approved by the Congress, it could be harmful for the potato industry since it sent out a message displaying the wicked look of potato. Though I think potato shouldn’t be blamed as the noxious witch causing children obesity, its sacrifice did contribute to addressing the industry and public concern while let people know how much determination and effort did the government pay to help the children eat well.

The new program will cost $3.2 billion in government budget and plan to provide healthful lunches for 32 million children who participate. Though it already cut down more than half from the previous 6.8 billion budgets, the cost still looks huge and some governors are unsatisfied. Is it worthy? Well, let’s do the simple math again! According to CDC’s most updated data, 27.5% of total population in US is obese; Annual $147 billion had spent on the Medicare due to obesity, while some analysts said the cost will rise to $344 billion per year in 2018. It is well established that childhood obesity is closely related to adult obesity and chronic disease, so spending $3.2 billion to prevent the onset of the future super costly problems is making a good deal.

“When we send our kids to schools, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home,” Mrs. Obama said in the announcement. “We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.” Yes, the new school lunch program is on the right track; hopefully it can make a great contribution to the obese era.

pics source: 1. http://www.bet.com/news/national/2012/01/25/michelle-obama-announces-new-school-lunch-nutrition-guidelines.html 2. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html