Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Final Class for Spring Semester

The Final Goodbye
Last night I took my final exam, and am delighted to say, it wasn't that bad! Perhaps it was the extra time for studying... or the flashcard help from my husband... or the very detailed study guide my professor gave out this time around. Either way, I was relieved to walk out last night after turning my test in. No real stumpers this time to share, but I will leave my readers with some fun mineral tidbits before I depart for vacation:

Be an IRONMAN
- Did you know women between the ages of 18-50 need about 18 mg of iron a day? That's 10mg more than men and women over 50.

-The best source of iron is meat. Yes, you can obtain iron through legumes and leafy greens, but this type of iron is ferrous (Fe++) or ferric (Fe+++), and not easily absorbed.

-Low on iron? Try eating your iron with Vitamin C-- it helps absorption. And skip the dairy... it reduces absorption.

A SALT and Battery
Sodium intake for most Americans is too high. Are you watching how much salt you eat? Try these tips for reducing salt, and therefore, lowing your blood pressure.

- Choose fresh foods over frozen or processed foods. For example, canned or frozen corn can have way more sodium per serving than a fresh ear.

-Go easy on dairy. Stick to 2 serving per day.

-Do not add salt to your foods. Flavor with herbs at the table instead.

- Watch out for salt's accomplices! Salt has a Chinese cousin named Soy Sauce, a southern friend named BBQ Sauce, and a buddy called Tobasco.

Potassium (sorry, no good puns out there for Potassium... "Potassi-yum"?)
The recommended intake for our friend K is 4.7 mg a day. Most Americans get about 1/2 this amount. Getting the right amount is important for healthy kidney functioning, decreasing bone loss and maintaining moderate blood pressure. Up your intake by:

- Eating foods rich in potassium like mushrooms, bananas, potatoes, artichokes and peas.

-Limiting processed food. As foods are refined, they lose K. For example, peanuts have more potassium than peanut butter.

Off to Alaska!
Yes, Alaska is NOT a mineral. But it is where the husband and I are headed for vacation. Looking forward to hiking, biking and kayaking the glaciers and bays of our 49th state. Expecting lots of salmon on the menu. Ahhh, Peanut the Cat will be so jealous.

Classes will resume July 1 for the summer. Taking a research class, so I'm not sure how thrilling the posts will be.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cancer and Nutrition

This week we had no class, but I had a paper due. Decided to focus on "Nutrition and Ovarian Cancer: What Have We Learned in the Past 5 Years?", a study by Dr. Elisa Bandera. Thought my loyal readers might like to know, what IS new in this area?

In 2001, the American Cancer Society (yay us!) came out with a general guideline that a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent cancer. In the last 5 years, numerous studies of cohort groups (that's just a fancy way of saying specific populations) took it one step further and looked specifically at the effects of diet on ovarian cancer.

I am sad to say, the results were inconclusive. Currently, there is not enough data to demonstrate a link between healthy eating and ovarian cancer prevention. Actually, there is no link between poor nutrition and an increased risk of ovarian cancer either. The following food groups were looked at. All had inconsistent or incongruent data:
-Satuarated Fats
-Fiber
-Vegetables and Fruits
-Dairy and lactose
-Soy and flavonoids
-Coffee
-Tea
-Alcohol
-Red Meat, Eggs, Poultry and Fish

All the news isn't terrible. Some foods showed promise and new research is currently being conducted. Those winners were tea (green or other kinds), soy and flavonoids. Additionally, there were a few others that showed a link to INCREASED risk, like beer and liquor.

This made me sad when I did my paper. But don't think you can't take control over your cancer risks! There is still a demonstrated, proven link between nutrition and other types of cancers. So while a diet rich in colorful fruits and veggies may not protect you against ovarian cancer, it WILL protect you again cancers in general (not to mention heart disease, diabetes and more...) Bottom line? Eat right, stay active, don't smoke, and if you drink, drink in moderation.

Oh, and wear sunscreen.

Thanks for this Mission Moment.