healthy eating

Girl Brain Power, Berry Style! (or the tummydoc's garden week 3: the raspberry)

The Raspberry
The Raspberry

I always love to talk to my patients about their diet.  What is good, what is bad, and what is downright ugly. 

We all feel better when we eat certain foods.   Eat a large meal late at night and chances are you’ll sleep poorly.  Not only that, your digestive system will remind you with waves of upset and nausea that a pizza at midnight is not a good choice.  Eat an early dinner with fresh fruits, veggies and fish and, wow, you feel great!

While some of the problem has to do with conditions like acid reflux brought on by eating fatty meals late at night, the nutrients from the foods also play a role.

That brings us to our next tummydoc garden selection, the raspberry.  Medical studies are popping up that show how the antioxidants inherent to colorful berries can improve brain function.

Before we get into those, let’s talk about raspberries.  They are a delicious and wonderful perennial addition to your garden.  With a slightly acidic soil, they will thrive.  In fact, they are so vigorous, they may start taking over nearby space. 

Fiber Up

The fruit itself is made up of tiny lobules called aggregates.  This translates to raspberries having more surface area per weight than many other fruits.  From a nutrition perspective, this makes raspberries a great source of fiber. 

Vitamins & Minerals

Raspberries are also a good source of Vitamin C and manganese, which is important for your body’s normally functioning, especially bone health.

women's brain health
women's brain health

So why Raspberries?

Now, let’s talk about how eating raspberries on a regular basis may be good for the mind.  Researchers know that the normal wear and tear on the brain eventually takes its toll.  For some, it may just be that you aren’t as quick to recall a word.  For others, the consequences are more severe, like in Alzheimer’s disease. 

Antioxidants

It turns out that certain people are better able to protect against this normal brain stress.  For many, diet plays an essential role.  Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are also very rich in substances called antioxidants.  Much of the physical damage to cells that causes everything from the brain slowing down to wrinkles occurs through a process called oxidative stress.  As the names imply, antioxidants can help counteract this damage.

Polyphenols

It turns out the same substances that give berries their rich and vibrant colors are also antioxidants.  In general, these substances are called polyphenols.  Of the polyphenols, a subtype, called flavonoids, has gained positive press recently.  Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants also found in foods normally regarded as treats, such as chocolate.  In berries, certain flavonoids, called anthocyanidins, are particularly effective.  To read more on this, visit the free article at http://www.expert-reviews.com/doi/pdf/10.1586/ern.12.86.

Concord Grape Juice and for the Mind

In a recent review in the Journal of Nutrition, the authors identified berries, Concord grapes, and walnuts as particularly beneficial to keep the brain healthy.  One study demonstrated that older adults who drank Concord grape juice daily for 12 weeks had significant benefits for their brain health.  In another by the same group, adults who ate berries for 12 weeks improved their memory and behavior compared to those who did not.  To learn more about these studies, get a free copy of the article at http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/9/1813S.long.

Girl Brain Power

Finally, a recent article in the Annals of Neurology showed that the brain benefits of eating berries on a regular basis was especially applicable to women.  In the study, 16,010 women over the age of 70 were were tested for brain function.  Women who ate more berries had brains which were functioning 2.5 years “younger” than those who did not enjoy these delicious fruits. 

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more, both on this blog and on the tummydoc channel.  I don’t know about you, but I’m in the mood for a big bowl of berries. 

-Dustin G. James, MD

Board-Certified Gastroenterologist

the tummydoc

The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, medical diagnosis, or medical treatment.  You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or question.  As with all supplements and functional foods, be sure to discuss these products with your physician before using.

the tummydoc's garden week 2: swiss chard

tummydoc's garden week 2

This week we continue our adventure with that great and much under-utilized green leafy vegetable, swiss chard

Surprisingly easy to grow (and quite bountiful throughout the whole season I might add), swiss chard is a quite versatile addition to your culinary arsenal, and is a great accompaniment to so many dishes.  It's also a very pretty vegetable!

Ever wonder why swiss chard looks a lot like a beet?  Here's some interesting history.  Swiss chard had its beginnings as a beet.  At some point in history, people starting selecting some beets for their colorful and flavorful leaves as opposed to their root.   Over time, the beet-like root qualities were all but gone, but the leaves remained, better than ever.  If you have any inkling to do an experiment, let both a beet and swiss chard bolt.  Check out the seeds, they look the same!

The medical benefits of swiss chard include...

  • Antioxidants galore!  As is the case with many vibrant green, yellow, and red vegetables, swiss chard is loaded with vitamin A, a natural antioxidant.  It turns out that all carotenoids (rich natural sources of vitamin A) are pigments.  This means that the compounds that give a plant its color and the nutrients are one and the same.  Blueberries are another great example of this phenomenon.  

  • Rich in nutrients.  The vegetable is also a great source of vitamin K, protein, and fiber.  If you take a medicine called coumadin, be sure to talk with your health care provider before a meal with swiss chard, as it may counteract the blood-thinning properties of the medicine.

 

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more, both on this blog and on the tummydoc channel.

-Dustin G. James, MD

Board-Certified Gastroenterologist

the tummydoc

The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, medical diagnosis, or medical treatment.  You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or question.  As with all supplements and functional foods, be sure to discuss these products with your physician before using.

Top 5 Reasons to Love Buckwheat!

Buckwheat in a bowl on white background

1.  It's gluten-free.  Those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, rejoice!  

2.  It's a great source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble.

3.  It contains all the essential amino acids, that's right, it has lysine.

4.  It's a great source of iron, keep those blood cells and muscles happy!

5.  It contains the natural antioxidant rutin, which can help calm inflammation and may help lower blood pressure!

 

Just Beet It!

beet

A fascinating new study out of the UK showed that eating beets as part of your diet can lower your blood pressure.

The study's authors speculate bacteria in your mouth activate natural nitrogen compounds from beets.  The end result, a drop in about 10 points of the systolic blood pressure.

While not what we usually think of in terms of probiotics, this is a great example of how good bacteria can assist your health.

To your health,

your friends at tummydrops

Top Reasons to Eat Soybeans

A recent medical study has shown that the protein/healthy fat blend of soybeans may possibly be the healthiest combination to help the body stave off the effects of aging.  With this report, we thought this would be a good time to review other medical reasons why soybeans are good for you.

  • 1.  Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of soybeans have a reduced risk of getting cancer.
  • 2.  Soy can help keep bones young and healthy.
  • 3.  Eating soy regularly can help you lose weight.
  • 4.  Soy may help women going through menopause have less symptoms (although the medical trials go back and forth on this one a lot)
  • 5.  Eating soy regularly can help lower your cholesterol.

soybean