Protection from Colon Cancer

Kale - The Best Health Food!

Kale: cancer fighting, filled with antioxidants, helps you heal

March is Colon Cancer Awareness & Prevention Month, dedicated to helping people of all ages learn about their risks and how to improve the odds in favor of a cancer-free life.

According to the National Cancer Institute, for the great majority of people, the major factor that increases a person’s risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing age. Risk increases dramatically after age 50 years; 90% of all CRCs are diagnosed after this age. Incidence and mortality rates are higher in African Americans compared with other races. The history of CRC in a first-degree relative, especially if before the age of 55 years, roughly doubles the risk. A personal history of CRC, high-risk adenomas, or ovarian cancer also increases the risk. Other risk factors are weaker than age and family history. People with an inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease, have a much higher risk of CRC starting about 8 years after disease onset and are recommended to have frequent colonoscopic surveillance.  A small percentage (<5%) of CRCs occur in people with a genetic predisposition, including familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis coli.

Increased risk factors include obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, limited physical activity, and a diet high in saturated fats and low in fiber.  Not all fats should be avoided, and the “essential” unsaturated fatty acids known as omega-3 and omega-6 appear to be helpful in ensuring optimal health.  It is relatively easy with our modern diets high in processed foods to get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids, which are abundant in seeds and nuts, and the oils extracted from them. Refined vegetable oils, such as soy oil, are used in most of the snack foods, cookies, crackers and sweets in the North American diet as well as in fast food. Soybean oil alone is now so common in fast foods and processed foods that an astounding 20 percent of the calories in the American diet are estimated to come from this single source.

Optimal health comes from balancing your consumption of essential fatty acids by minimizing processed food consumption and increasing your consumption of foods high in omega-3 found in oily fish or fish oil supplements, walnuts, flax seeds and omega-3 fortified eggs. Combine balancing omega-3 and omega-6 with decreasing your intake of saturated fats from red meat and dairy products and you have a nutrition prescription for optimal health!

There is evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk for colon cancer.  In one large study, men who ate at least 10 servings a week of tomato-based foods reduced their risk for the disease by 45 percent, with experts suspecting that the protective agent is lycopene, a carotenoid and antioxidant found mostly in tomatoes and tomato products. Men following this type of eating plan, known as the Southern Mediterranean diet, eat high amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, red wine, olive oil and fish.

A second diet known to be associated with longevity and reduced risks for cancer is the traditional Japanese diet, which is high in green tea, soy, vegetables and fish, and low in calories and fat.  Both of these diets are low in red meat. Incorporating powerful anticancer nutrients found in colorful fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, berries and seeds are recommendations that make sense for both good health, and great taste.

The Green Goddess Breakfast Drink
Start your day with this nutrition-packed green drink that is easy to prepare, delicious and filled with cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables. Add 1 tablespoon of Chia seeds to increase your omega-3 intake at breakfast. This green drink also is great later in the day as a snack.  Enjoy!

Serves 1 to 3
1 ripe banana, peeled and broken into pieces
1 medium apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 ripe pear, cored and cut into chunks
1 lemon, juiced
2 to 3 cups water (I use 2 cups)
3 to 4 lettuce or spinach leaves, rinsed
3 to 4 kale leaves, rinsed and torn
1/4-cup fresh parsley leaves
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
Remove the tough stems from the kale and break the kale into pieces.  Place the banana pieces, apple chunks, pear chunks, lemon juice and water into a blender.  Blend on high, stopping as needed to push the fruit down.

Then add the lettuce leaves, kale pieces, parsley, and mint leaves; blend again until very smooth.  Add more water if needed and blend until completely smooth and brilliant green.

Nutrition information: Calories (per serving) 158; Total Fat 1.1 g; Sodium 26.3 g; Potassium 626.9 mg; Total Carbohydrates 39.5 g; Protein 2.3 g; Dietary Fiber 6.4 g; Sugars 7.8 g

Feeding the Holiday Blues

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The holiday blues are common.  Did you know you can actually change your mental state through the right combination of healthful foods? Follow these tips to feed the holiday blues.

Depression and anxiety are complex conditions that must be diagnosed by a qualified health care practitioner. Often, however, the dietary component of mental illness is overlooked. Food sensitivities, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies may worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Following a few dietary guidelines, in combination with other prescribed treatments, may help to relieve symptoms.

Dietary guidelines that may help to relieve depression:

  • Follow a diet plan that prevents hypoglycemia (e.g. eliminate refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco; eat 4 – 6 small meals throughout the day; eat plenty of dietary fiber.
  • An elimination or rotation diet will help to decide whether or not you have sensitivities to particular foods.

Helpful Foods:

  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids for growth and repair of nervous tissue: nut, seed, cold water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel) and vegetable oils (safflower, walnut, sunflower, flax seed), evening primrose oil (500 mg/3 times per day).
  • Foods rich in vitamin B6 – needed for normal brain function: Brewer’s yeast, bok choy, spinach, banana, potato, whole grains.
  • Foods rich in tryptophan – precursor to neurotransmitter serotonin: white turkey meat, milk, nuts, eggs, fish.
  • Liver cleansing foods – proper liver function helps to regulate blood sugar: garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussell sprouts, beets, carrots, artichokes, lemons, parsnips, dandelion greens, watercress, burdock root.
  • Magnesium rich foods – important for nerve conduction: seeds, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, soy products, almonds, pecans, cashews, wheat bran, meats.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners
  • Refined sugar and processed foods
  • Be aware of your specific food sensitivities

Try a meal or snack with fiber-rich complex carbohydrates and low-fat protein!

Tofu Salad

with Cajun Spice Dressing

6 tablespoons Cajun Spice seasoning blend 1 pound firm- style tofu or Tempeh*
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
4 cups organic salad greens including:
dandelion greens, watercress, arugula, baby kale, romaine, spinach 1/2 cup organic shredded carrot
1/3 cup thinly sliced fennel
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1-2 tablespoons canola oil

  1. Drain tofu, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, press briefly with paper towel to absorb excess water. If using tempeh, simply slice tempeh into 1/2-inch strips.
  2. Measure 5 tablespoons of spice mixture into shallow bowl; dip tofu/tempeh in spice mixture to evenly coat; transfer to a dry plate. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining spice mixture with vinaigrette dressing. Blend well; let stand 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat heavy skillet. Lightly coat with vegetable oil. Pan fry tofu/tempeh for 4 – 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  5. Arrange salad greens on serving plate. Arrange tofu/tempeh evenly over greens. Garnish each salad with carrot, fennel, and red onion. Top each with two tablespoons dressing.

*Tofu and tempeh are good sources of magnesium. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to depression, irritability and confusion.

For Assistance with your own personalized nutrition program, contact THE Mindful Nutritionist, Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN. Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Virtual appointments available. (P) 480.675.4568  (email) lisa@lisaschmidtcounseling.com.

Sugar Is The New Smoking

Sugar is an amazing substance.

Sugar Like Smoking?

Sugar Like Smoking?

It is pure sensation, pleasure in a crystalline form.  We share as humans a desire for its innate sweetness, which begins at mother’s breast.  This taste of milk sugars is the fuel that energizes all of life – white gold – pure carbohydrate energy that moves our bodies.  The calories in a cup of breast milk are nearly 40% from sugar in the form of lactose. The deep and primal appeal of sugar is one of the reasons that sugar and sugar-filled foods are now among the most popular and commonly chosen edibles.  In the past, sugar was expensive and rare, and consumption was limited to the wealthy and was reserved for the end of a meal.  Now sugar is cheap and abundant, with manufactured sugars infused in nearly every packaged product sold in supermarkets.

Good in Moderation?

Like many dietitians and nutrition experts, I used to recommend that sugar be eaten in moderation.  Now, I’ve changed my tune.  Due to the ever present presence of sugar in our lives, and because of the insidious way Big Sugar (The National Sugar Association, a sugar lobbying organization) conspired to manipulate scientific studies about sugar’s harmful effects, I now say avoid added sugars.  PERIOD.

Sugar is in everything

Added to nearly every packaged product and deliberately concealed by food manufacturers through its 56 different names, one cannot avoid eating added sugars.  We have a long love affair with sugar, which is one reason why it is so hard to resist.  The other reason is because it is hidden.  In food as well as through deliberate concealment.  More than 75% of the added sugar we eat is in food products, meaning that packaged food is by far and above the problem with our excessive sugar intake.

The National Sugar Association and Deliberate Concealment

Beginning in the 1960’s, the National Sugar Association made sure that consumers wouldn’t learn about the harm that excess sugar caused.  They paid off prominent scientific researchers from Harvard University to turn attention away from sugar causing health problems, pointing the finger in many instances towards fat.  You can read the scientific study here.  For a brilliant editorial from one of my heroes, Marion Nestle, you can read her post from Food Politics. Dr. Nestle is an expert on the politics that affect some of the more unhealthy foods like soda, and how our own health interests are routinely thwarted by Big Food.  I share her conclusion:  “we would all be better eating less sugary foods and fatty meats.”  Simple nutrition, expert advice.

Here is the Truth About Sugar

A recent study in a prominent scientific journal concluded that a high intake of added sugars increases the risk of weight gain, excess body weight and obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus; higher serum triglycerides and high blood cholesterol; higher blood pressure and hypertension; stroke; coronary heart disease; cancer; and dental caries. Foods higher in added sugars are often a source of empty calories with minimum essential nutrients or dietary fiber which displaces more healthful foods and lead, in turn, to simultaneously overfed and undernourished individuals.  Meaning, we are fatter and less healthy.

The Worst Offenders With Added Sugar

We all know that sugar is in soda, fizzy drinks, and cakes and cookies.  But do you know about the worst offenders?

  • Salad Dressings
  • Soups and Sauces
  • Breakfast Smoothies
  • Breakfast Bars and Yogurt
  • Bread
  • Alcohol

If you want to avoid diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other considerable health risks, stop blaming your genetics, and take charge of your eating.  Once you know the truth about sugar, you can make a choice to change.  It truly is up to each one of us to act as our own health advocate.  Remember, Big Sugar is not your friend.  In fact, the food industry acts just like Big Tobacco, and they market to us in just the same way.  I think we all know how this story will end – in perhaps 10 or 20 years, following innumerable suffering and death, added sugars will be banned, or at least revealed for the health problem they are – and sugar will be considered as unhealthy as smoking.

Your Diet and Breast Cancer – What’s your risk??

Sesame Kale

Your Diet and Breast Cancer – eat to improve your recovery, prevent a relapse, protect from illness

In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we focus in October on the second-most common cancer among women in the United States. In 2015 alone, an estimated 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed, and 50,000 U.S. women are expected to die from the disease. However, in the same year more than 2.5 million will survive due to improved treatment outcomes.

Factors that affect cancer risk

While there are many factors that influence your chance of getting cancer, scientists believe nutrition has a major impact. Over 30 years ago, the National Research Council published a report called Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer, showing the evidence then available linking specific dietary factors to cancer of the breast and other organs. Research since then has only confirmed the strong connection between diet, cancer and survival outcomes.

Breast Cancer by Geography

For instance, in Asian countries such as Japan, we see low rates of breast cancer, while Western countries have cancer rates that are many times higher. The protective difference is thought to be the traditional Japanese diet, which is low in fat and primarily plant-based. By comparison, the standard American diet is centered on animal products, leading Americans to overeat fat and under consume other important nutrients. Diets that are low in animal fat but high in fiber, carbohydrates and vitamin A seem to help cancer prognosis. For reasons that are not entirely clear, vegetables and fruits, and the vitamins they contain, help keep the cells of the body in better working order. Vegetables and fruits are not only important to help to prevent cancer, but also to improve outcomes following treatment.

Foods that Prevent Cancer

While no one food can prevent or cure cancer, the combination of foods you choose to eat seems to make a difference. Experts recommend a predominantly plant-based diet including a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A plant-based diet means eating mostly foods that come from plants: vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and beans. Plant-based foods are cancer-fighting powerhouses because they have less fat, more fiber and more cancer-fighting nutrients. These three elements work together in a synergistic way, supporting your immune system and helping your body fight off and recover from cancer.

Shifting to a more plant-based diet is simple!

Choose unprocessed foods, close to their original form. For a visual reminder, think of filling a plate at least two-thirds full of whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.

Use these tips to enjoy more plant-based foods:

  • Breakfast: Add fruit and a few seeds or nuts to whole grain breakfast cereal  such as oatmeal.
  • Lunch: Eat a big salad filled with beans, peas and combinations of veggies. Pile extra lettuce and tomato (plus any other veggies you can!) on sandwiches. Choose whole grain bread. Enjoy a side of veggies: Suggestions include carrots, sauerkraut and cherry tomatoes.
  • Snacks: Choose fresh fruit and vegetables. Grab an apple or banana for snacking. Raw veggies such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, jicama and peppers are excellent with a dip such as hummus. Make trail mix with nuts, seeds and a little dried fruit, and eat in modest amounts (suggested serving ¼ cup).
  • Dinner: Add fresh or frozen veggies to pasta sauce or rice dishes.  Or top a baked potato with broccoli and low-fat yogurt, sautéed veggies or salsa. Replace creamy pasta sauces with sautéed vegetables or tomato sauce made with healthy olive oil.
  • Dessert: Choose fresh fruit topped with Greek yogurt drizzled with maple syrup. A single square of dark chocolate is a healthy indulgence!

Enjoy this easy recipe featuring cancer-fighting dark green leafy kale, which is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus, you’ll get added flavor from garlic, sea vegetables and sesame oil, which also are powerful cancer preventers. Enjoy this recipe hot or chilled.

Sesame Kale

1 large bunch kale
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted organic sesame seeds
1/8 cup dried sea vegetables (optional)

Prepare sea vegetables per package directions. Mince garlic. Wash kale, strip the leaves from the spines and tear into bite-size pieces. Heat sesame oil to medium; add garlic and sauté until lightly browned.  Add kale, sea vegetables, water and soy sauce and cook until kale is just wilted, approximately 2 minutes. Be sure not to overcook. Add sesame seeds and serve.

Nutrition information: Calories per serving (1 cup): 181; Total Fat 12.6g; Sodium 311 mg; Total Carbohydrates 14.8 g; Protein 5.0 g; Dietary Fiber 2.9 g; Sugars 2.2 g; provides 181% daily RDA for Vitamin A; 24% Calcium.

Watch Your Weight, Arizona!

A new report was released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and it ranks the State of Arizona as the 29th “fattest” because of the percentage of residents classified as overweight or obese.  You can see me discuss the findings on Channel 12 news.

The healing power of plants

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”–HippocratesThe Healing Power of Plants

The father of modern medicine scribed these words nearly 2,500 years ago. The words of Hippocrates have been used to communicate how a connection with nature through a relationship with food can provide health benefits far beyond any other type of “prescription”. Seen through this lens, eating is an intimate way to extract life-sustaining energy from Mother Nature. 

Chew Your Food!

As a Certified Nutritionist, one of the things I remind my clients is to thoroughly chew their food. Chewing Improves Digestion Why is chewing so important?  One reason is because physically chewing food in your mouth begins the process of digestion by breaking down larger pieces of food into smaller particles.  Swallowing smaller pieces of food takes pressure off of the esophagus, making the act of swallowing more efficient.  Chewing also releases saliva, which has digestive enzymes.  The release of enzymes into the throat and stomach begins the process of digestion. Chewing helps with IBS, and other digestive problems.

Eating real food matters

Springtime has come to the desert!  As I travel around the Sonoran Desert Preserve, I see the signs of spring everywhere.  Even in the barren desert, spring brings life and new beginnings to my surroundings.  I am reminded of the restorative power of nature, and the ways that all living things go through periods of dormancy, and new life.  It’s never too late to create the life you want – look to the desert for inspiration!

The Desert is Blooming!

The Desert is Blooming!

Have you thought about the impact that eating and drinking “non foods” has on your body?  Have you thought about the difference between real food and food like substances?  It can be helpful as you work towards a fuller relationship with food and your body to think about how real food impacts your life, and how non foods interfere with your body’s natural workings.

There are three types of food like substances – processed, junk, and fake foods.  Processed food is made from real food that has been put through chemical processes and is filled with chemicals and preservatives.  Some examples of processed food include beef jerky, canned tea, jam, hot dogs, and low or non fat yogurt with sugar or sucralose.

Are Omega-3s Good or Bad?


Whole Foods, Mostly Plants

Eat a wide variety of whole foods, mostly plants, to protect and promote health

Who said this?  “Based on the available data, even though there may be no clear cardiovascular benefit from prescribing omega-3 supplements, aside from helping to reduce triglyceride cholesterol levels, I still say it’s very important for my patients to have a plant-based diet with omega-3 rich fatty fish as part of a heart-healthy Mediterranean-like dietary strategy which holds benefits probably above and beyond individual omega-3 pill supplements.”

David Friedman, MD, chief of heart failure services at North Shore-Long Island Jewish’s Plainview Hospital in New York

In conversations with family and friends, we discuss conflicting information published regularly about nutrition and diet.  Some family members think that it is difficult, if not impossible, to figure out what to eat. One day, information claims Omega 3s are essential – and consumers are encouraged to buy Fish Oil and other dietary supplements.  Other times, like yesterday’s news about the lack of scientific evidence for Omega 3s in supplement form, some feel compelled to flush supplements down the drain.