February 2016

Is Milk Bad or Good for You?

Milk has been on and off the hot seat for decades. The hullabaloo is more smoke than fire. Except for infants or people who are intolerant to even small dollops of yogurt, all people need calcium and vitamin D and milk is one of the best places to get these nutrients.  Besides, most of the claims that milk is unhealthy are unfounded.

Heart Disease: Opponents of milk claim it causes heart disease. However, the only harm to your heart is with milk fat. A cup of milk supplies eight grams of fat, the equivalent of almost two teaspoons of grease; one teaspoon of that is the type of saturated fat that makes a bee-line for your arteries. But, with an abundance of nonfat milk, yogurt products, and cheeses on the market, there is no reason for anyone over 2-years-old to drink whole milk.

Diabetes: The outcry that milk causes diabetes is a case where a little information was taken too far. A few preliminary studies found a link between a series of amino acids in cow’s milk, called ABBOS, and juvenile onset diabetes in young children with a genetic predisposition to the disease. However, the only real proof is that breast-feeding is protective against the development of diabetes, not that cow’s milk or formulas made with cows’ milk are necessarily harmful. It’s not earth-shaking news to hear babies shouldn’t drink milk; since 1976, the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against feeding cow’s milk to infants.

Intolerance: Lactose intolerance caused by insufficient amounts of the digestive enzyme lactase, is relatively common; the incidence ranges from as low as one in every 10 people of northern European decent to as high as 90% of African Americans, Asians, Jews, Native Americans, and Arabics. Even then, many who are lactose intolerant can drink small amounts of milk at meals with no problems. For those who can’t, there are lactose-free milk products, such as Lactaid.

Allergies: While milk allergy receives a lot of attention, in reality few people are truly allergic to milk. The one to two percent of young children who develop allergic symptoms – bronchitis, eczema, and asthma – usually outgrow the problem by the time they are 2-years-old; milk allergy is rarely diagnosed in adults.

Cancer:  FDA  approved the use of a hormone called bovine somatotropin (BST), a laboratory-produced hormone that, when injected into cows, increases milk production by up to 25 percent. Opponents of the drug say it might also increase the consumer’s risk for cancer and other health concerns. But, FDA contends that milk from treated cows is safe. At this point, there appears to be no difference in milk from treated and untreated cows.

To meet the daily requirement of 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day and 400IU of vitamin D, drink daily three to four glasses of nonfat milk, fortified soymilk or orange juice, or eat lots of canned salmon and cooked greens. Photo credit: Axel Naud via Compfight


Do One of These Diet Do’s Today

1. Make sure you get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600IU  of vitamin D from either food or supplements.

2. Include at least 2 servings of colorful fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and at least one at every snack.

3. Include an omega-3 DHA-rich food in your day’s menu, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, or anchovies.

4. Try one new vegetable.
Photo credit: Chris via Compfight


The Latest Must-Read Nutrition News

1. Minerals and Cancer: Some minerals, such as calcium and zinc, might help lower the risk for developing esophageal cancer. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland compared mineral intakes with esophageal cancer risk in a group of 47,405 people. More than 200 cases of esophageal cancer were identified. Calcium intake was inversely associated with cancer, with risk decreasing for every additional 100 milligrams of calcium consumed daily. Zinc intake also showed a small, but statistically insignificant protective effect against the disease.
Hashemian M, Poustchi H, Abnet C, et al: Dietary intake of minerals and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015;102:102-108.

2. A Plateful of Eye Candy: Loading the plate everyday with carotenoid-rich produce could save your eyes from vision loss caused by macular degeneration, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Data obtained from health surveys from more than 92,000 people participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up study were compared to risk for vision loss. Results showed that people who consumed the most lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich produce had a 40% lower risk of advanced macular degeneration compared with those who ate the least amount of these carotenoids. Other carotenoids, such as alpha carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, and beta carotene, also lowered risk by up to 35%. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in dark greens. These carotenoids concentrate in the macula, where they are thought to protect it from damage from oxygen and UV light. Previous studies show that at least 10 milligrams of lutein and 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin, the amount obtained from a half to one cup of cooked greens, is needed daily. Beta carotene is found in red and orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and orange peppers.
Wu J, Cho E, Willett W, et al: Intakes of lutein, zeaxanthin, and other carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration during 2 decades of prospective follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmology 2015; October 8

3. The Brain Dead Diet: Your diet could determine the health of your memory, mind, and cognition, according to a study from Columbia University. Food questionnaires and MRIs were gathered on a group of 674 adults with an average age of 80-years-old. The researchers found that the brain volumes of those who ate a meat-based diet were smaller than those of people who followed diets more in tune with a Mediterranean-style of eating. The difference equated to about five years of aging. In addition, eating more fish and less meat was associated with even less brain shrinkage. The researchers recommend eating at least three to five ounces of fatty fish weekly and no more than 3.5 ounces of meat a day, less would be even better.
Gu Y, Brickman A, Stern Y, et al: Mediterranean diet and brain structure in a multiethnic elderly cohort. Neurology 2015; October


Food & Mood Tip –

Eat Well, Feel Well
You wouldn’t dream of putting sawdust into the gas tank of your car and then expect it to run right. Yet, most Americans are eating the nutritional equivalent of sawdust, grabbing highly-processed foods, skipping meals, and eating way too much fat and sugar. They wonder why they can’t think straight, feel tired all the time, gain weight, and are frequently stressed out. The connection is simple. Live on chips, fast food, and soft drinks and you function on fumes, living and enjoying only a fraction of the life you could have. Eat well and in tune with your chemistry and you will be amazed at your energy level, how much quicker you think and how much more you remember, how good you feel, how well you sleep, and how little you are controlled by food cravings and insatiable appetites. Not only will you feel better, you will look your best. I promise. I’ve seen it over and over again. I’ve seen it in men and women of all ages, teenagers, children, seniors, athletes, pregnant women, stressed-out work-a-holics, you name it.


Mood-Boosting Recipe of the month –

Warm Milk with Honey and Orange From The Food & Mood Cookbook by Elizabeth Somer and Jeanette Williams)

Time to sit back and relax. See who can get their PJ’s and socks on first. Then rendezvous for a warm, soothing mug of hot milk.

2 cups nonfat milk

2 cups fat-free half & half

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon fresh grated orange peel

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch of nutmeg

Orange peel, optional

In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients, except almond and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk while warming to create a foam, but do not boil. Once hot, remove from heat. Whisk in almond extract. Discard cinnamon stick. Pour into 4 mugs and sprinkle with nutmeg. Garnish with orange peel if desired. Makes 4 servings, 1 cup each.
Nutritional Analysis per cup: 155 Calories; 1% fat (< 0.5 gram); 0 grams saturated fat; 24% protein; 75% carbohydrate; 0 gram fiber.


Your Nutrition Questions Answered

1. Do raw foods contain enzymes that help you digest food and keep you healthy?

The short answer? No. Those enzymes are there to protect and aid the plant. Like all enzymes, they are proteins and once any protein hits the acidic environment of the human stomach, those enzymes are broken down in a digestive process called “denaturation.” Some plant enzymes might reach the small intestine intact, but their benefits would be minimal. In addition, the intestines typically don’t allow complete proteins to be absorbed, only their building blocks, amino acids or small groupings of amino acids. Don’t buy the claim that the human body has a limited supply of its own enzymes, so plant enzymes help to spare our own. Our bodies make enzymes throughout life; it’s a fallacy that there is a finite number.

2. The radiation from microwave ovens creates harmful compounds in food, right?

The energy waves that make up microwaves are very weak and nothing like X-rays or gamma rays. The cooking that occurs in a microwave oven is not from the rays, but from the heat generated inside the food as it is vibrated by the rays. Microwave cooking is really no different from any other cooking method that applies heat to food. The only caution is with microwaving in some plastics, which can leach compounds into your food, so take care to use only microwave-safe containers.

See Next Month for Answers to These Questions…

1. Do you lose nutrients when you cook in a microwave oven?

2. Do you crave certain foods when your body is low in a nutrient?


Label Lingo –

Reduced or Less Sodium

This claim only means there is at least 25% less sodium than found in the original product, but it doesn’t mean it is low in sodium. Many processed foods on the market are dripping with sodium, so lowering the sodium content by 25% could leave that soup, frozen entree, can of beans, or any other item still far too high. Always check the nutritional panel on the back. Your total sodium quota maxes out at 2400 milligrams a day (1500 milligrams is better). How does that one item compare?


Food Finds/Food Fails:

Food Finds:
1. Beanitos Original Black Bean chips: I am not a fan of chips, of any kind. But, I will make an exception with these black bean chips. They are absolutely delicious, not too salty (only 55 milligrams sodium compared to 170 milligrams in Classic Lays Potato Chips). Whereas most chips have little or no fiber, Beanitos has 5 grams, plus twice the protein of other chips, and it’s a complete protein. You’ll also recognize and be able to pronounce all the ingredients. Dunk in salsa, hummus, yogurt dips, or just eat plain.

2. Better Oats Raw Pure & Simple Organic Bare: This multi-grain, hot cereal with flax makes  a nutritious, simple breakfast if cooked in milk or soymilk. One pouch supplies 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber before you’ve even added the milk. Ingredients are only whole-grain rolled oats, barley, wheat, flaxseed, quinoa, and rye, with a touch of sea salt. Serve with a big bowl of watermelon or blueberries for the perfect breakfast.

Food Fails:
1. ONE energizing hydration, Coconut Water with Tea: There is absolutely nothing to commend this junk drink with its 170 calories per container, 135 milligrams of sodium, and more than 10 teaspoons of sugar. Save your money and drink water to hydrate.

2. Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate Lovers Granola: Just because it is organic and granola doesn’t mean it is OK to start the day off with a bowlful of chocolate. A half cup packs 220 calories, almost 2 teaspoons of fat, and more than three teaspoons of sugar. No surprise, since the second ingredient is chocolate. This is dessert, not breakfast!

3. Ritz Toasted Chips, Cheddar: The label claims this snack has 40% less fat, but don’t be fooled. Almost 40% of the calories come from fat and one measly ounce packs 280 milligrams of sodium, that is 18.7% of your recommended intake for the entire day. The first ingredient is bleached flour, followed in order by oil, cornstarch, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. After that, it’s just a long laundry list of additives, colorings, flavorings, and chemicals. No wonder there is no fiber. Honestly, this product doesn’t even qualify as a food!


This Month’s Menu Ideas:

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks  if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 whole wheat pancake topped w/ 2 Tbsp maple syrup.

6 ounces apricot nectar

Coffee or tea (sugar substitute, if needed)

Mid-Morning Snack:
2 fresh figs

1 ounce reduced-fat cheese

Green tea

Lox & Bagel: Toast one half of a 4-ounce whole-grain bagel and top with 2 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese, 2 ounces smoked salmon, 1 red onion slice, 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts, and 4 slices tomato.

1/2 cup watermelon chunks


Mid-Afternoon Snack:
PB & F Roll Up: Spread 1 tablespoon nut butter on a whole wheat tortilla. Top with 1/3 cup fresh fruit and roll into a burrito.


2 slices vegetarian pizza topped with extra tomato slices

Wild Baby Greens with Pears: 3 cups wild baby greens (or any leaf lettuce), 2 tablespoons dried figs, 1 /2 large red pear sliced, fresh herbs, and 3 Tbsp. low-calorie dressing, such as Newman’s Sesame Ginger Dressing

Tall glass of sparkling water mixed with 1 /2 cup orange juice

Late-Night Snack:
1 serving Warm Milk with Honey and Orange
Nutrition Analysis: 1,996 Calories, 19 % fat (42 g, 11 g saturated), 66 % carbs (329 g), 15 % protein (75 g), 43 g fiber, 3,115 mg sodium. 


What has Elizabeth been up to?

January 23: AMNorthWest (KATU, Channel 2 in Portland, OR). Topic: Probiotics: Fact, Fiction, and Food