Thursday, April 13, 2017

Avoiding naturally-occurring gluten might lead to more type 2 diabetes

Gluten-free diets usually lead to grain free diets.  However, eating more whole grain food is associated with less inflammation [1] and fewer infections as well as less cancer, cardiovascular disease, mortality from any cause, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. [2]  In addition, foods advertised as “gluten free” are usually very high in refined carbohydrates such as flours made from potato, rice, and tapioca.

In a recent analysis of 199,794 participants studied for over 20 years in the Nurses Health Study (NHS II) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), those with the highest consumption of gluten had the lowest levels of type 2 diabetes. [3]

My recommendation:
Unless you have a compelling reason (such as celiac disease) to avoid gluten, I recommend including minimally-processed whole grains (whole wheat, rye berries, whole hull-less barley, etc.) in your diet on a daily basis.  The health benefits are inescapable; don’t get caught up in the gluten-free fad!  However, I suggest avoiding products with ingredient lists that include added gluten, which always refers to refined gluten; naturally-occurring gluten will not be on the ingredient list.  To read more about gluten see pages 40-41 of Good Food, Great Medicine (3rd edition).  We talk about the health benefits of eating whole grains on pages 23-25 and why we all should avoid highly-refined grains on page 46.   

Miles Hassell MD



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fighting depression with a one-two punch – food and activity

For many people antidepressant medications often have very limited benefit [1].  However, two of the most powerful antidepressants available surprisingly don’t even need a prescription! 
  1. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be effective for moderate to severe depression.  In a recent randomized controlled trial, patients randomized to a Mediterranean diet (with red meat 3 to 4 times a week and red wine with meals) had a significantly greater remission of their depression than the control group [2] who received no dietary instruction.
  2. Exercise also has excellent antidepressant benefits, especially when outdoors in fresh air and natural light.
Yet more evidence that the food and lifestyle choices we make each day are critically important for the health of our minds and our bodies!  

My recommendation:
Eat a whole-food Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of vegetables, high-quality protein (including red meat), and good fat, but avoid refined carbs.  Also, make room every day for some kind of outdoor exercise: a brisk walk, vigorous gardening, a flight or two of stairs – whatever you can manage.  

Miles Hassell MD
 
[2] Jacka, F.N. et al. BMC Medicine 2017;15:23

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Using extra-virgin olive oil even reduces your risk of breaking a bone!

To add to the growing collection of health benefits for extra-virgin olive oil (for example, reducing heart disease, stroke, and cancer), it appears that using more extra-virgin olive oil may also lead to about 50% fewer broken bones!  In a study in which participants with high cardiovascular disease risk were randomized to either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet and followed for 8.9 years, those with the greatest intake of extra-virgin olive oil had about half the risk of fractures compared to those with the lowest intake. [1] Interestingly, using olive oil other than extra-virgin was not associated with any reduction of broken bones.

My recommendation:
Use extra-virgin olive oil as your main kitchen oil!  To make sure you are using oil with genuine extra-virgin qualities we recommend choosing a domestic olive oil rather than imported, and with the seal of the California Olive Oil Council on the label, like the widely available California Olive Ranch.  Better still, buy locally-squeezed olive juice from Oregon Olive Mill in Dayton, Oregon.  If you are interested in buying imported extra virgin olive oil we suggest consulting with a knowledgeable local importer like Jim Dixon at Real Good Food.  We include about 100 recipes using extra-virgin olive oil in Good Food, Great Medicine (3rd edition), and discuss the many reasons to choose it instead of other vegetable oils on pages 26 and 47-48. 

Miles Hassell MD

[1]García-Gavilán, J.F. et al. Clinical Nutrition 2017;doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2016.12.030