Prostate Cancer

1 in 6 American men will get prostate cancer.  It kills approximately 27,360 (1 in 35) each year.  Though it accounts for almost 10% of cancer deaths, treatments for prostate cancer are very effective if the cancer is detected early.  Most symptoms of prostate cancer aren’t shown until the later stages of development, so it’s important for men to be checked annually.  Screening includes a Digital Rectal Exam and a Prostate-Specific Antigen Exam that should be done every year after turning 45 (if you have a family history of prostate cancer) or after 50 if you’re at normal risk.

The main ways to prevent prostate cancer are screening and having a diet low in saturated fat.  Researchers believe that an increased amount of saturated fats in the diet causes the body to increase the amount of testosterone it makes, which increases cell production in the prostate and can lead to cancer.  Saturated fats are found mostly in animal products and are solid at room temperature (ex. lard, butter, fat from red meats).  Dieticians suggest that less that 20% of the calories eaten daily come from saturated fats.

Which diets, then, help reduce your chance of getting prostate cancer?  The Mediterranean and Japanese diets are especially low in saturated fats.  They involve mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, grains and breads, and poultry or fish (rarely red meat).   These diets are also great for your heart!  The Prostate Cancer Foundation has created two helpful cookbooks that provide healthier, low-fat versions of your favorite meals.  They will help you easily adapt this kind of diet which will hopefully reduce your chances of getting prostate cancer!  The cookbooks can be bought here:

The Taste for Living Cookbook

The Taste for Living World Cookbook

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Fight Breast Cancer with Soy!

In past years, doctors have warned breast cancer patients to avoid using soy.  It was supposed to have the same cancer-promoting effects on the hormone-sensitive cancer as estrogen does.  According to a recent news article though, studies have shown just the opposite – that increasing soy in your diet can actually help reduce the risk of breast cancer.   Emily Moore, a registered dietician, has shared some simple tips on incorporating soy in your family’s diet to help prevent hormone-sensitive cancers (including breast and prostate cancers).  They include:

-use soy milk in your cereal

-substitute soy flour for white flour when making cookies

-use textured soy protein or tofu in any recipe that calls for ground beef, chicken, or turkey

-snack on soy nuts

-use soynut butter in cookies and on sandwiches

-add tofu to casseroles and vegetable dishes

-use edamame beans in your favorite soup or stew

-substitute vegetable oil with soy oil

Here‘s a easy, 5-star recipe that the whole family’s sure to love!  These lettuce wraps are similar to P.F. Chang’s, but it’s much healthier for you… using low-sodium soy sauce, tofu, extra-lean ground beef, and lots of vegetables.  Enjoy!

LETTUCE CUPS WITH BEEF AND TOFU STUFFING

Ellie Krieger
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 12 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoons bottled chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or Chinese cooking wine
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
  • 4 scallions, greens trimmed and reserved, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup each greens and whites – 3/4-ounce each)
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (90 percent or leaner)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced water chestnuts
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, outer leaves discarded, leaves separated
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, whisk together chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sherry.

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much water as possible. This should take about 2 minutes and use about 3 paper towels. Finely mince dried tofu and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and scallion whites and cook until scallion whites are translucent and ginger is fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground beef and tofu and cook, stirring, until beef is opaque and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add reserved sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts and stir to incorporate.

Fill each lettuce leaf with the filling. Serve garnished with scallion greens, red peppers and peanuts.

PER SERVING:

Serving size: 2/3 cup filling and 2 large, or 4 small, lettuce leaves

Calories 260; Total Fat 13 g; (Sat Fat 1.5 g, Mono Fat 5 g, Poly Fat 3.5 g) ; Protein 16 g; Carb 19 g; Fiber 5 g; Cholesterol 15 mg; Sodium 630 mg

Excellent source of: Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate, Vitamin K, Iron, Manganese

Good source of: Fiber, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc

Healthy, Diabetic, High Fiber, Low Carbohydrate, Low Cholesterol, Dairy Free

Breast Cancer

With more than 192,000 new cases this year, breast cancer is the 2nd highest diagnosed cancer among women, after melanoma.  Most women feel secure about their breast health…annual mammograms and monthly self-examinations have been very effective in detecting the cancer early, before it’s had the chance to spread to other organs.

On November 16th, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced that mammograms should be completed every other year, after the age of 50.  (The American Cancer Society recommends getting a mammogram annually for anyone over the age of 40.)  This announcement caused a lot of controversy and the U.S. government has since said that it will not be incorporating those ideas in the new health plan.  Though what if they decide to do so in the next few years?  If insurance will no longer cover annual mammograms, many women will have to go without them.  Hundreds of cases of breast cancer will go undetected until it’s too late.  What can we do about it?  Besides writing government officials and expressing opinions on the issue, every woman in America can take small steps towards preventing breast cancer.

Dr. Ann Kulze, MD has outlined 10 steps towards preventing breast cancer:

1. Maintain a healthy body weight throughout your life.

2. Minimize or avoid alcohol. (“The Harvard Nurses’ Health study, along with several others, has shown consuming more than one alcoholic beverage a day can increase breast cancer risk by as much as 20-25 percent.”)

3. Consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible. (7+ servings a day, especially lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, carrots, and tomatoes.  Citrus fruits, berries and cherries are great health-promoting fruits.)

4. Exercise regularly the rest of your life. (Try to exercise 5 or more days a week for at least 30 minutes.  Don’t just try it out, but make it a habit!)

5. Do your fats right. (Minimize omega-6, saturated, and trans fat in your diet, and replace them with omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, such as canola oil, fish oil, avacado, and nuts.)

6. Do your carbs right. (Minimize the amount of bleached carbs you consume, and instead replace them with whole grains, beans, and legumes.)

7. Consume whole food soy products regularly, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk, and miso. (Organic soy is very healthy and has been shown to help reduce breast cancer risk.)

8. Minimize exposure to pharmacologic estrogens and xeno-estrogens. (Avoid taking estrogen pills, and being around pesticides and chemicals that could be made of compounds similar to estrogen.  Wash all produce that could have come in contact with those kinds of pesticides.)

9. Take your supplements daily. (Talk to your doctor about taking supplements to help improve your diet.  Vitamin C, Vitamin E, multivitamins, selenium, and fish oil will help you be healthy as all your nutritious needs are met.)

10. Maintain a positive mental outlook. (Maintain happy relationships with others that won’t cause you additional stress.  Develop regular sleep patterns and be optimistic.)

Also, talk to your doctor and learn how to do self breast examinations and complete them monthly.

Even if you don’t have access to a mammogram machine, you can take steps to avoiding breast cancer.  Remember, almost 100% of breast cancer victims that talk to their doctor about their signs and symptoms have lived to see the 5-yr. mark after finishing treatment.

Overcoming Obesity

We all love Biggest Loser (watch the highlights from this season here).  I think it’s so inspiring to watch people change their habits and life-styles in just a few, short months.  I especially love watching the younger contestants.  Becoming more healthy has opened so many doors to them…many past participants have overcome major self-esteem hurdles to get better jobs, start relationships, and start community-health programs.  Their healthier eating and exercise habits have eliminated past obesity-related chronic diseases, like hypertension and type II diabetes mellitus.

Sometimes I think that it would be impossible to lose a hundred or more pounds without the help of Bob and Jillian, but I found this blog and website from Lynn Haraldson-Bering.  She lost 168 pounds over the course of almost 2 years, and has now maintained her weight loss for 3 years.  She went from eating mostly carbs and doing next to no physical activity, to eating mostly vegetarian food and working out 5 days a week.  Her family was very supportive of her, but she says that, “writing down her thoughts and feelings about why she ate helped Bering do the inner work, which she believes is necessary before anyone can do the outer work and lose the weight for good.”

Can you believe that this is the same person?  This feature on Lynn from The Today Show shows some of the simple food swaps she made that saved thousands of calories a year.

Don’t think you can’t change because it’s too late to make a difference, or because you’re too poor to get a personal trainer, or because you’re too old for it to matter.  Weight loss isn’t about looking better.  It’s about being healthier, happier, and more at peace with yourself.  Keep a weight journal, watch your calorie intake, join an online weight-loss group, blog about your success, take pictures and measurements to realize how drastically your weight has changed, and find physical activities you enjoy and friends that will work out with you.  Read more inspiring stories of people changing their lives without surgery and weight loss camps, and know that you CAN make change your eating habits and become more healthy and happy if you just put your mind to it!

Heart-Healthy Recipes

It isn’t too hard to take small steps to become more heart healthy!  Instead of eating a hamburger, try grilled chicken; and substitute soda with milk or water.  When you go to a restaurant, be aware of portion sizes and only eat until you’re full – remember you can take home the leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day!  Instead of eating potato chips, keep fresh fruit and veggies on hand for when you get the munchies, and remember to try to squeeze in 30 minutes of cardio, 3 or more times a week.  These simple suggestions can lead to years more of healthy life!

Myrecipes.com has a section on 20-Minute Heart-Healthy Meals.  I think these recipes are great because, not only are they yummy, but they’re quick to make!  I tend to eat food that I know isn’t very nutritious, just because it’s quick to make and doesn’t take much planning ahead…but cutting cholesterol and counting calories isn’t at all tedious with this website.  All of the recipes are quick to make and include side-dish ideas so you don’t have to do any meal planning yourself.  In addition to the recipe, they include instructional videos to help those of us who aren’t so experienced in the kitchen.

Not only is salmon heart-healthy, but I think it’s delicious any time of year!

Sweet-Spicy Glazed Salmon

Sweet, spicy, salty, sour—just four ingredients hit all the flavor notes in the sauce for this top-rated dish. Chinese-style hot mustard has a sharp bite similar to that of wasabi. If you don’t have it on hand, use Dijon mustard or 1 teaspoon of a dry mustard such as Coleman’s.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet)

Ingredients:

  • 3  tablespoons  dark brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4  teaspoons  Chinese-style hot mustard
  • 1  teaspoon  rice vinegar
  • 4  (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat.  Place fish on a foil-lined jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Remove from oven.  Preheat broiler.  Brush sugar mixture evenly over salmon; broil 3 inches from heat 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 252 (37% from fat)
Fat: 10.3g (sat 2.3g,mono 4.4g,poly 2.5g)
Protein: 27.7g
Carbohydrate: 11g
Fiber: 0.1g
Cholesterol: 65mg
Iron: 0.9mg
Sodium: 470mg
Calcium: 33mg
To find more heart-healthy recipes, check out this selection reviewed by the Mayo Clinic dieticians.  They even have a huge dessert section!

Obesity, Nutrition, and Heart Disease

The heart is an amazing muscle.  A healthy heart pumps about 180 liters of blood every day…and it does this for years on end!  We can keep our hearts healthy and pumping strong by eating right and doing cardio exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week.

An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise lead to high blood pressure (or hypertension), high LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol) levels, and an increased risk of diabetes.  These factors make your heart work much harder than it’s supposed to, and increases the risk of developing a blood clot, which could lead to a heart attack.

Look at how obesity and having a larger BMI has caused this person’s heart to enlarge, compared to a person at normal body weight:

Cholesterol and sodium are the main dangers in a diet when it comes to heart health.  According to the Harvard Heart Letter (Nov. 2006), we need to choose low-sodium foods, limit our use of canned or processed foods, be aware of salt in restaurant-prepared meals, and cook with herbs and spices instead of salt to reduce our sodium intake.  In last month’s edition of the Harvard Heart Letter, 11 different food choices were highlighted as cholesterol-lowering options.  They include oats, whole grains, beans, eggplant and okra, nuts, vegetable oils, fruits like apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus, foods fortified with sterols and stanols, soy, fatty fish, and fiber supplements.  They also suggested decreasing sources of saturated and trans fat in meals.

Chronic Disease in America

Chronic disease is the leading cause of death in our country and around the globe.  It attributes for about 70% of American deaths, and 60% of deaths world-wide.  Chronic disease is frustrating to patients and doctors alike – there are no cures and no answers, only recurring symptoms that have to be regularly managed with shots, pills, diets, and tests.  These procedures are expensive and time-consuming.  Since chronic disease can’t be cured, what can we do about it?  Prevent it!

These are the ten leading causes of death in the United States, as of 2005:

Seven are chronic diseases.  There are many risk factors that may lead to chronic disease.  By changing our lifestyles to eliminate some of these risk factors, we decrease our chances of developing a chronic disease later on in life.  Some of the risk factors are tobacco use/smoking, lack of physical activity, poor diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in saturated fat, environmental pollution, and alcohol use.

Since obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States, and is also, arguably, the most individually controlled risk factor, we’re going to focus on prevention through nutrition and physical activity.