In my last post, I addressed the lifestyle changes that help to gently shift metabolism to a healthier state, which naturally results in achieving optimal weight. Excess weight is often a multi-faceted issue—not surprisingly, the best results are gained with a comprehensive approach. As I stated in my last post, I am not an advocate of a restrictive diet. Instead, I’ve found that providing the body with the nutrients it needs (including botanicals that enhance healthy metabolic function), in conjunction with a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle, results in almost effortless loss of surplus pounds.
In part 1 of this series, I provided an in-depth evaluation of the powerful role that diet plays in cardiovascular health, particularly in regard to achieving healthy cholesterol levels. As I pointed out in that post, I do not recommend statins, except in rare cases. Even then, the dosages I recommend are far less than the current standard of practice dictates.
Although cholesterol is often singled out as the cause of cardiovascular disease, this waxy, fat-like substance is essential to our health. Cholesterol is found in every cell, and is an important component of the membrane that surrounds cells. It’s also necessary for hormone production, specifically the hormone pregnenolone, which is the precursor to all other steroid hormones. Additionally, cholesterol is the precursor for bile acids that are necessary for digestion and provitamin D.
It’s well known that elevated fasting blood sugar is a precursor to diabetes. Less well known, but increasingly recognized, is that elevated fasting serum glucose and/or insulin levels are also risk factors for cancer, and the risk grows as fasting blood sugar and insulin levels rise. With the escalation of obesity and diabetes worldwide, it is important to recognize these diseases as causative factors for cancer development, especially for older individuals.
In last week’s post, I talked about the toxicity of commercial sunscreens, and why they are bad for your health. I also mentioned that the sun is not the primary cause of skin aging and skin cancer, and promised to share my conclusions with you this week.
Despite the enormously bad press the sun has received in the past few decades, all skin damage is not the fault of the sun. The root cause of skin aging (including wrinkling, hyperpigmentation, and loss of collagen) as well as skin cancer is oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). While the sun is one of the factors that create ROS, there are many other culprits, including external factors (air pollution and chemical exposure) and internal factors (poor diet, emotional stress, lack of sleep, and the natural aging process). ROS are believed to trigger skin cancer and photosensitivity diseases by activating proliferative and cell survival signaling that can alter apoptotic pathways (the self-destruction of abnormal cells).
I thoroughly enjoy mushrooms—in fact, I actually crave them. It’s likely that this craving can be traced to my Italian culinary heritage—we often add mushrooms to pizza and pasta dishes, but we find them equally delicious in soups, stir-fries, and salads. In addition to the common white button mushroom, we also search for maitake, morel, oyster, portobello, shiitake, and any other unique varieties that appear at our local farmer’s market or natural foods store.
With the advent of a growing scientific field of study called nutrigenomics, the old adage “you are what you eat” is proving to be much more than folk wisdom. Nutrigenomics takes into consideration the relationship between diet and genetics, and identifies the beneficial or detrimental health effects of various dietary components. What researchers have discovered is that there is far more to dietary health than proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and that simply meeting the minimum daily requirements for vitamins and minerals isn’t enough for optimal health and disease prevention.