Yoga and Nutrition

Hold the bacon, please. And the beef.

People sometimes ask me if there are any foods one should "always" or "never" eat.  For the most part, I don't believe in always or never. But the more I learn about processed red meat -- such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs -- the more I'm convinced it has no place in our diets.  

Research already links higher intakes of red meat (processed or unprocessed) with higher risks for certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and even total mortality. Now we can add type 2 diabetes to that list of negative health effects. A meta-analysis reported this week from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that eating 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces, or 1/2 cup) of unprocessed red meat per day was associated with a 19% increase in type 2 diabetes risk, while eating the same amount of processed meat was associated with 51% increase in risk.

Conversely, substituting red meat with other protein-rich foods lowered diabetes risk. Replacing a serving of meat each day with a serving of low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains (YES, they contain protein!) was linked with a 19%, 21%, and 23% decreased risk, respectively.

If 100 grams of meat a day sounds like a lot, consider that an average restaurant steak is more than 4x that size. And according to the USDA, Americans eat, per capita, almost 200 pounds -- a whopping 5700 grams -- of meat each year.

*Read the abstract HERE, on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition web site.*



Summer fruit... ahh! 

It's no secret that I love summer... long days, wine on the fire escape at night, beach escapes, a feeling of inherent freedom... and, of course, lush fruits.

Just for fun, I've posted links to some amazing summer fruit recipes from a variety of sources.

Buy locally when you can. Long Island, upstate New York, and New Jersey are home to some fantastic farms.

::Clinks glass::


Cold cherry soup

Watermelon and feta salad

Pineapple with Thai basil and blueberries

Raspberry buttermilk cake

Nectarine summer rolls with almond dipping sauce

Crispy tofu, strawberry, and mango salad

PS - The raspberry buttermilk cake is even more perfect when topped with coconut sorbet...



E. coli: Don't blame the vegetables

The food safety scare in Europe highlights the importance of our collective awareness of where the food we eat comes from, what industrialized agriculture ("factory farming") means for human health, and the impact of globalization of our food supplies -- in 2011, what happens in one country is never isolated.

How does E. coli become "super toxic"?

To quote from a statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch & Food & Water Europe:

"Scientific evidence finds that cattle, particularly those that are fed grain, are the most significant source of some strains of E. coli and that flies from cattle feedlots may serve as a major vector for E. coli contamination on leafy greens.

"The practice of feeding livestock antibiotics for growth promotion has increased the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens like E. coli, and with it, related food safety risks."

Is factory farming, to produce super-cheap meat, really worth it?


To be filed under: Of course yoga can help with that!

I love it when the evidence supports what we who practice yoga have sensed all along.

Research to be presented next week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests yoga (asana, pranayama, and meditation) improved mood, circadian rhythm, and decreased anxiety in individuals with a cancer diagnosis in the post-adjuvant treatment setting. This was a multi-site, phase III randomized, controlled, clinical trial including more than 400 participants -- no small feat.

Another study, involving women receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer, showed that compared with women who just did stretching exercises, or did no exercise program, women who practiced yoga had significant physical and quality-of-life benefits, including the sharpest decrease in cortisol levels.  

So: yoga helps people feel good, stay mobile, and reduces "stress" on both subjective and objective measures.

But we already knew that.



More on meat and cancer risk... 

The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research report on even stronger evidence for a link between red and processed meat intake and colorectal cancer risk. Worth a read. Bottom line: if you do choose to eat red meat, stick with grass-fed, organic beef, and limit the amount you consume.