Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pregnancy, Lactation and Fish

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated fats that are considered to be essential to our bodies: this means your body cannot make them on its own, rather they have to come from your well balanced diet. Studies show that a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may help regulate triglycerides blood levels as well as increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Omega 3 fatty acids may also act as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting which may help to lower high blood pressure and they have been associated with decreased inflammation, increased agility and boosted brain function!

Sources of omega-3s
> EPA and DHA (Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid)
Such as fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, halibut, sardines, tuna as well as omega-3 eggs (which are fortified with DHA) and algae (seaweed).Cod liver oil is not a good source of omega 3 acids since it may cause toxicity in excess amounts due to its high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D so fish oil is better!
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Vegetable oils such as canola, soy and flaxseed oil
  • Supplements – it’s best to get fish oil that contains both DHA and EPA. Know that up to 3 grams of fish oil per day in pregnancy is safe so take no more than 3 g! And always consult your doctor or licensed dietitian before you go for supplements!
> ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid)
Our bodies can convert ALA into EPA and DHA but the conversion process is slow so both sources are important!

What are the benefits of Omega 3 fish oils?
Most scientists and health professionals agree that omega-3 fish oil contains a wide range of health benefits pertaining to seriously many different areas of the body! We’ve already mentioned a few earlier, but check out how valuable omega-3 is for you as well as your baby!

  • Circulation – By regulating your blood lipid profiles and decreasing clotting risks.
  • Heart – By helping reduce the risk of arrhythmias (irregularity of the heartbeat) and sudden death by a heart attack.
  • Brain – Better brain function though more efficient neurotransmitters leading to improved concentration, memory and less likelihood of depression.
  • Joints & Arthritis – Better joint function from reduced inflammation and a reduction in pain.
  • Skin – Improves the health and appearance of your skin, helps keep nails and hair healthy.
  • Immune System & Cancer – A stronger immune system, proven to be beneficial for the body’s immune function and a lowered risk of breast and prostate cancer.
  • Vision – Improved focus, color, perception and clarity of vision.
  • Digestive System – By improving intestinal health and reducing inflammation in cases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Allergies – Omega-3 fatty acid intake by mothers during pregnancy may protect babies against the development of allergies.
  • Diabetes – Fish oil enhances insulin secretion from beta cells in the pancreas, regulating blood sugar levels especially DHA.
  • Because omega-3 fatty acids are needed for the development of the brain, nervous system and immune function. This is important for both mom and baby especially during the growth spurt in the last trimester and after birth.
  • Adequate omega-3 intake during pregnancy is associated with appropriate birth weight, head circumference, cognitive development and fewer preterm births.
  • Your fetus gains 50–60 milligrams (mg) n-3/day during the last trimester (mostly DHA) so it’s important to have reserves for both of you!
  • During lactation, as a mother, your body loses 70-80 mg DHA per day and your stores decrease by 30% after birth, so you need your diet to provide you with sufficient amounts
  • Studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids from the maternal diet are found in both breast milk and in fetal cord blood, so yes mommy, you are providing your baby with his/her needs of omega-3s! Your baby can only get EPA, DHA and ALA from your diet.
So why is it important to get enough omega-3s when you are pregnant and breastfeeding?
Omega-3s and safety issues
·  Eat fish with the lowest mercury levels such as salmon, canned tuna, anchovies, cod, herring, lobster, mackerel, lobster, scallops and shrimp
·  Do NOT eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because of high mercury levels
So what’s up with mercury?
Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. The calculation is quite simple: Mercury exposure is passed up through the food chain:
·   Bigger fish accumulate more as they eat smaller fish
·   Older fish tend to have more mercury because they have been exposed to mercury over a longer period of time!
And just so that you know, mercury occurs naturally in the environment but also enters the atmosphere and water from human activities. Mercury can be emitted from fossil-fuel burning plants and automobiles into the air. Then it falls to the ground in rain and snow and enters streams, rivers and lakes.


  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women are recommended to have at least 2 servings of fish per week - particularly fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids from the variety that are low in mercury.
  • Each "serving" is equivalent to about 100 grams of cooked fish, or about 3/4 of a cup of flaked fish. So eat at least 220 grams and a maximum of 330 grams of fish.

·    Fish sometimes carry parasites and if the fish is eaten raw or lightly preserved, parasites become a concern.  The most common of these parasites are nematodes (also known as "cod worms" or "herring worms") and tapeworms.  Nematodes, though rarely a problem, can infect a human host and cause limited digestive problems for a week or so.  Tapeworms are much worse: they can live in the human digestive tract for years, growing up to a couple of yards long, causing severe pain, weight loss and anemia. The good news: These parasites are killed when fish is properly cooked to an internal temperature of at least 63 °C.
Therefore when pregnant, avoid eating raw fish and make sure your fish is well prepared!
·    As for refrigerated smoked seafood, these may pose an increased risk of a bacterial infection called listeriosis for pregnant women, older people, and people with weakened immune systems.  These are usually labeled on your food package as "nova-style" "lox" "kippered," "smoked" or "jerky”, so read your labels and avoid them!

So to sum it up, omega-3 fatty acids are highly important in your diet for both you and you baby! Don’t overdo it and have fish like crazy, have well-cooked right amount and right type of fish and seafood to get their valuable benefits!


Benefits of Healthy Eating After a Cancer Diagnosis

Every healthy adult is recommended to eat nutritious foods throughout every stage of life to promote a longer life and to reduce the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. But eating healthy isn't only for healthy individuals; healthy eating is especially important for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Eating healthy while fighting this disease not only improves your quality of life, but it also boosts your mood and improves digestion and heart health.

Brown rice is an integral
part of a healthy diet!
Regulate Digestion
Certain medications used to treat symptoms of mesothelioma, uterine cancer as well as other forms of cancer can disrupt your digestive system, resulting in constipation or having bowel movements too frequently. Regulate your digestion by eating foods that are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps to create bulk in your intestines, making for an easier passage for waste from the body. It also helps to prevent hemorrhoids, constipation and reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. If your doctor has asked that you reduce your weight, eating high-fiber foods such as wheat bread, brown rice and oats helps you to feel fuller longer, resulting in you eating less.

Certain medications used to treat symptoms of mesothelioma, uterine cancer as well as other forms of cancer can disrupt your digestive system, resulting in constipation or having bowel movements too frequently. Regulate your digestion by eating foods that are high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps to create bulk in your intestines, making for an easier passage for waste from the body. It also helps to prevent hemorrhoids, constipation and reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. If your doctor has asked that you reduce your weight, eating high-fiber foods such as wheat bread, brown rice and oats helps you to feel fuller longer, resulting in you eating less.

Heart Health
The American Heart Association recommends all healthy adults to consume no more than 7 percent of their caloric intake in saturated fat and no more than 1 percent of their caloric intake in trans-fat. Cutting your sat-fat and trans-fat intake reduces your risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease. In addition, consuming polyunsaturated and monounsaturated food sources such as olives, almonds and avocados increases your good cholesterol levels and helps prevent cholesterol build-up in your heart. Your doctor may recommend that you cut your saturated fat and trans-fat consumption even more than this if you’re recuperating from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Foods that are high in saturated and trans-fats are: full-fat dairy, egg yolks, processed meats, candy and fatty red meat.

Whether you’re receiving treatment for cancer, recovering from treatment or in remission, eating healthy foods can improve your overall well-being and improve your mood. It’s natural for your stress levels to increase after receiving a cancer diagnosis and eating certain foods can make this worse.
Foods and beverages loaded with caffeine or sugar can give you a false sense of euphoria, only to bring your mood down within a few hours after consuming them. Instead go for mood boosting foods such as seaweed, mushrooms and brown rice. Seaweed contains iodine, which can boost your mood if you’re deficient in it. Mushrooms contain the mineral selenium, which fights against depression if you’re deficient in it. Whole grains such as brown rice and wheat products keep your blood sugar steady, resulting in a constant release of energy.

Guest post by Jillian McKee. Jillian (@jillianmckee) has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009 (http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/). Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Your Personality Can Affect Your Weight!

Losing weight may seem simple, you would have to balance your diet and burn more than what you eat by exercising! Yet it’s not as easy as it seems. Research is finding links between personality traits, emotions and eating behaviors. This holds true because the same brain regions that control everything related to your emotions and stress deal with appetite and hunger feelings as well!

A study conducted last year associated 5 personality traits with different, specific eating habits – mostly, leading us to gain weight! So find below each personality trait, what happens and what you can do about it!

Personality Trait
What Happens
What We Can Do
The Night Owl
- Sleep deprived at night and  tends to sleep through breakfast time and snack late at night
> This drives down levels of leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, while driving ghrelin up, the hormone that increases appetite especially for high carbohydrates, sweets and high calorie food!
- Start by decreasing your caffeine intake in the afternoon and night
- Decrease TV/PC-time in the evening
- Close the kitchen doors by 8-9 pm at night
- Wake up early and boost up your energy with breakfast
The Stress Junkie
- Competes in everything and works better under pressure
> This internal force to constantly compete is powered by both cortisol and adrenaline – the stress hormones. Stress hormones also boost  neuropeptide Y, a neurochemical that increase:
- Carbs cravings
- Insulin secretion
- Fat accumulation
- Exercise helps in burning off excess cortisol

- Plan your work ahead of time, to decrease any stressful events

- Adopt a hobby/ relaxing/ breathing techniques.

- Don’t go gulping sugary and fatty foods when you’re upset, angry or sad just to comfort your anxiety. Think before you eat!
The Mindless Multi-tasker

- Drives, talks, reads, watches TV, BBMs and even knits altogether while eating!
> Most don’t overeat because they’re super hungry. Eating has become a mindless habit with no focus on what we are actually eating.
Yes, multitasking is a plus, if you’re applying for a new job but not when you are eating.
- Give your food your full attention. Sit down at a dining table, chew your food well and eat slowly. Savor every bite and stop when you’re full.

The Giver

- Puts everyone’s needs before his or her own and may fear disappointing others
> This leads to void or guilt feelings, where you’ll end up stuffing your face with sweet sweeeet food!

It is quite righteous to be generous and caring, but you’d have to put you and your health first as well.
Also, know what is bothering you. Let out any negative emotions in a healthier way - run, jog, swim, sing, write, draw, anything but eating.
The Perfectionist

- Puts unreachable goals, whether in life, school, work or fitness goals
> Perfectionists tend to set impossible weight goals leading them to disappointment and emotional eating when they relapse.
- If you wait till all circumstances are perfect, you won’t start at all! So ditch the ‘all or nothing’ mentality and start with what you have right now.
- Break your ultimate goal into many small, realistic and reachable steps
and strive to reach each goal at your own pace.

Work to identify what is causing you to emotionally eat and work to break these triggers. I definitely don’t mean that you must change your whole personality, but knowing what pushes you to overeat could be the key!